05/10/2003
Press Release
SC/7887



Security Council

4836th Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS IN EMERGENCY SESSION FOLLOWING ISRAELI

AIR STRIKE AGAINST SYRIA


Syria Asks Council to Condemn Attack; Israel Says

Attack Response for Islamic Jihad’s Bombing in Haifa


The Security Council met in an emergency session this afternoon, at Syria’s request, following an Israeli air strike against that country earlier today.


The Israeli air strike fell near a Syrian village, Ain Al Sahib, to the north-west of the capital of Damascus.  The strikes followed the suicide bombing yesterday at a restaurant in the seaside town of Haifa, Israel, which killed 19 Israelis.


Syria’s representative condemned the air strike, and he tabled a resolution that would have the Council do the same.  He said the act of aggression was a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, of international law, and of the 1974 Disengagement Agreement between Syria and Israel, as well as a clear manifestation of an Israeli policy based on aggression and lack of respect for agreements.


Targeting a Syrian village was further proof that the massacres committed by Israel on the pretext of fighting so-called terrorism reflected a big lie, used to justify a policy of colonialism and settlement-building.  That policy was in violation of all the principles of peace and security on which the United Nations was founded, and ran counter to the peace process started in Madrid in 1991.


Calling Israel’s reprisals for the attack in Haifa “repugnant”, several speakers from neighbouring Arab countries suggested that the air strike, in the context of an already shaky peace, could return the region to war and imperil international peace and security.  Some said the armed reprisal was disproportionate and had proceeded from a political desire to destroy the peace process, illegally expand the conflict zone, and destabilize the entire region.


The League of Arab States, through its speaker, reaffirmed its solidarity with Syria in any measures it must take to protect itself from such aggression.  Calling for an end to Israeli terrorist attacks against Syria and Lebanon, he said that today’s attack had reaffirmed Israel’s aggressive nature and lack of desire for a just and lasting Middle East peace.  Israel had not implemented any of the 37 relevant resolutions of the Council and had been pretending to be part of the fight against terrorism -– a battle that would be won only when Israel withdrew from the occupied territories.


Israel’s representative responded by saying that perhaps the Syrian delegate, who often spoke about resistance, could explain how the murder of children in a restaurant was an act of resistance.  Regretting that the meeting could not have been convened after Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, he said that Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization, which operated freely from Palestinian Authority territory and had its headquarters in Damascus, had proudly claimed responsibility for the massacre yesterday in Haifa.


He said that that was the latest in more than 40 terrorist atrocities committed by Islamic Jihad in the past few years.  The encouragement, safe harbour, training, funding and logistical support offered by Syria to a variety of notorious terrorist organizations was a matter of public knowledge.  Briefly detailing the extent of support that Syria, as well as Iran, afforded terrorist organizations, such as Islamic Jihad, he highlighted the safe harbour and training facilities provided throughout Syria for such groups, both in separate facilities and in Syrian army bases.


Speaking in his national capacity, the representative of the United States, whose delegation holds the Council presidency this month, said Syria was on “the wrong side” of the war on terrorism.  The United States had been clear about the need for Syria to cease harbouring terrorist groups, yet specific directions for such action continued to be issued from Syrian territory.  It was in Syria’s interest, and in the broader interest of Middle East peace, for Syria to stop harbouring and supporting the groups that perpetrated terrorist acts, such as the one that had occurred in Haifa.  All sides should avoid heightening the tension and think carefully about the consequences of their actions.


Statements were also made by the representatives of China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico, Angola, Chile, Germany, Pakistan and Spain.  The Syrian speaker took the floor a second time to respond to the statement made by the speaker from Israel.


Additional statements were made by the representatives of Lebanon, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Iran, Bahrain, Yemen, Qatar and the Sudan.  The Permanent Observer for Palestine also spoke. 


Following the meeting, the Council had further closed consultations on the issue.


The meeting began at 4:45 p.m. and adjourned at 7:55 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met in emergency session this afternoon, at the request of the Syrian Arab Republic.  In a letter dated 5 October 2003 addressed to the President of the Council, Syria’s Permanent Representative, Fayssal Mekdad, requested the convening of the meeting to consider the violations of Syrian and Lebanese airspace committed the same day by the Israeli air force, and the missile attack carried out by the latter on the same day against a civilian site situated inside Syrian territory.


In identical letters dated 5 October, addressed to the Secretary-General and to the President of the Council, the Permanent Representative of Syria transmitted the text of a letter from Syria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Farouk Al-Sharaa, concerning the violations of Syrian and Lebanese airspace committed on 5 October 2003 by the Israeli air force and the missile attack carried out by Israel against a civilian site situated inside Syrian territory.  He requested that the text of the letter and its annex be circulated as a document of the Security Council.


In the letter, Mr. Al-Sharaa reported that on Sunday morning, 5 October, the Israeli air force violated the airspace of Syria and Lebanon and launched a missile attack against a civilian site situated inside the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, in the village of Ain Al Sahib, north-west of the capital, Damascus.  The attack had caused material damage.  Syria wished to inform the Secretary-General and the Council of the brazen violation by Israel of Syrian and Lebanese airspace and of the aggression against Syrian territory, acts which constituted a flagrant violation of the principles of international law and marked a new and dangerous escalation.  It invited the Council to convene an emergency meeting to consider the Israeli aggression against Syrian territory and the measures that it should take to put an end to the policy of provocation and aggression being pursued by Israel against Syria.


By its continuing aggression against the Palestinians and the strategies being adopted to extend the scope of this aggression against Syria and Lebanon, the letter stated, the current Israeli Government confirmed yet again by its practices that it was a government of war and not a government of peace.


“Syria is not incapable of establishing a balance of resistance and deterrence that would oblige Israel to revise its approach”, the letter continued.  Syria, it said, had demonstrated extreme restraint, fully aware that Israel was attempting to fabricate all kinds of pretexts, gleaned from difference quarters, to export its internal crisis to the region as a whole and to expose the region to a new escalation and a new conflagration.


Syria, currently a State member of the Security Council, was convinced, the letter said, that this august Council was the best forum for dealing with this serious development, to condemn it and to put an end to it and prevent it from recurring, since it constituted a threat to regional and international peace and security, which could have disastrous effects on the situation in the region that would be difficult to control.


Statements


FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) began by reading out the text of the letter sent by the Foreign Minister addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Council, and concluded it by saying that Syria, a member of the Council, believed that the Council was the most appropriate forum to address, condemn and halt this dangerous development, with a view to preventing a repetition of such acts; that this development posed a threat to international peace and security and exposed the already deteriorating situation in the region to dire consequences that could spiral out of control.


Speaking on the agenda item, Mr. Mekdad thanked the President for convening this emergency meeting to discuss the flagrant Israeli military aggression within Syrian territory, which targeted a civilian site in the village of Ain Al Sahib, which resulted in physical damage.  He expressed Syria’s satisfaction at the statement issued by the Secretary-General, strongly deploring this act of aggression and expressing concern at the potential escalation of an already tense and difficult situation in the region.


This unwarranted aggression, he said, in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, of international law and of the 1974 Disengagement Agreement between Syria and Israel, was a clear manifestation of an Israeli policy based on aggression and lack of respect for agreements.  This Israeli aggression targeting a Syrian village was a true and precise embodiment of Israeli terrorism, while Israel falsely claimed to be fighting against terrorism and standing against it.  This terrorist act of aggression provided further proof that the massacres committed by Israel on the pretext of fighting so-called terrorism reflected a big lie and an irrational, foolish claim, all used in an attempt to justify the policy of colonialism and settlement-building, in violation of all the principles of peace and security on which the United Nations was founded, and running counter to the peace process which was started in Madrid in 1991.


The act of aggression that Israel committed against Syria this morning was part of a strategic policy adopted by the Israeli Government in order to escalate tension in the Middle East, at a time when the international community was pursuing efforts towards a comprehensive, just peace in the Middle East that would ensure peace and stability for all the peoples of the region.  It was abundantly clear now to the entire world that it was beyond belief that Syria, which had respected and complied with the mission of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) since 1974, as all the sponsors of the peace process and other world leaders could attest –- or the powerless Palestinians, who lacked weapons and who were languishing under Israeli occupation and harsh oppression, could take any action posing a threat to anyone, especially as it was common knowledge that the Palestinian people lacked an army and a military arsenal such as those possessed by Israel.


For Syria, the question which came immediately to mind was how Israel could persuade the entire world that it was a victim at a time when it forcibly occupied the territory of others, lay siege to them, demolished their homes, uprooted their crops, and murdered their children rather than joining them at the negotiating table to ensure the implementation of the legitimate rights of all sides.  This flagrant Israeli aggression was not an isolated incident; it had been preceded by another flagrant Israeli violation, committed, without justification or provocation, on 8 January 2003, in the demilitarized zone, which resulted in the death of a Syrian soldier.  The UNDOF report on that incident found that there was no justification for that crime and that Syria had exercised the utmost restraint.


It is strange that Israel continued to violate international agreements and to flout the United Nations Charter, to the point where Arabs and many others around the world had come to believe that Israel saw itself as above international law and as acting beyond the jurisdiction of the resolutions adopted by the Council.  It was very strange, indeed, that the Israeli Government, after several decades of occupation, bloodshed and the flouting of international law, did not recognize that the path to peace lay in Israel’s implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict.  All those resolutions remained unimplemented and unrespected by Israel.  In that connection, he cited Council resolutions 181 (II), 194 (III), 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).


It was only logical, he said, that all Member States, with the exception of Israel, which had become a symbol of defiance of the United Nations and its resolutions, should debate international legality and the implementation of Security Council resolutions.  The current Israeli Government, through its continued aggression against the Palestinians and its broadening of the scope of that aggression to include Syria and Lebanon, confirmed de facto that it was a government of war not a government of peace.  He reiterated what Syria’s Foreign Minister had stated in his letter to the Council, that Syria was “not incapable of establishing a balance of resistance and deterrence that would force Israel to revise its calculations”.  Syria had exercised maximum self-restraint because it recognized that Israel was creating opportune pretexts with a view to exporting its current domestic crisis to the entire region, thus, exposing it to further escalation and volatility.


Syria had come to the very heart of the house of legality, he said, to the Security Council, which represented the hopes and aspirations of millions of Syrians and Arabs and the concerns of many millions more throughout the world who uphold the principles of international law, in order to condemn this act of aggression, which had no justification whatsoever, and to demonstrate once again to the entire world its adherence to the United Nations and its resolutions. 


Syria, he said, had officially submitted the text of a draft resolution that responded to the challenges before the Council.  He stressed that the draft reflected the positions usually adopted by the Council in the face of similar acts of aggression and threats.  He was confident that all Council members would respond and stand up to this Israeli challenge in the context of their ongoing efforts to address any threat to international peace and security.  “Will the Council meet this new challenge?” he asked, and added, “We are very hopeful that it will.”


DAN GILLERMAN (Israel) noted that the meeting was being convened within hours of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.  He deeply regretted that the Council could not meet after that most important religious day, so as to allow Israel to participate fully in the debate.  Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization, which operated freely from Palestinian Authority territory and had its headquarters in Damascus, proudly claimed responsibility for the massacre yesterday in Haifa.  That was the latest in more than 40 terrorist atrocities committed by Islamic Jihad in the past few years.  The encouragement, safe harbour, training, funding and logistical support offered by Syria to a variety of notorious terrorist organizations was a matter of public knowledge.


Briefly detailing the extent of support that Syria, as well as Iran, afforded terrorist organizations, such as Islamic Jihad, he highlighted the safe harbour and training facilities provided throughout Syria, such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah, both in separate facilities and in Syrian army bases.  Syria itself had directed acts of terrorism, with coordination and briefings by phone and Internet, and by summoning activists to Damascus for briefings. Iran, through the use of Syrian and Palestinian banking systems, sustained a systematic money-transfer system, and large sums of money had been transferred to Islamic Jihad, as well as to other terrorist organizations, through Damascus for the planning and perpetration of attacks.


Continuing, he said that Syria used its State-run media and official institutions to glorify and encourage suicide bombings against civilians in restaurants, schools, commuter buses and shopping malls.  Syria had also facilitated the transfer of arms to Palestinian terrorist organizations by allowing the transfer of sophisticated weapons from Iran to Hezbollah through Syrian territory.  Hezbollah, itself a vicious terrorist organization, had then sought to smuggle those arms to Palestinian terrorist groups.  The Syrian delegate speaks a great deal about resistance.  Perhaps he could explain precisely how the murder of children in a restaurant was an act of resistance.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that the attack perpetrated by Israel against Syria did not meet the strict requirements set out in the United Nations Charter, with regard to the use of force.  That was an arbitrary attack, and, in legal and political terms, it was a clear violation of the Charter.  It was also a violation of several Council resolutions on the Middle East.  He welcomed the fact that Syria, instead of retaliating against that “wanton attack” on its territory, had chosen to approach the Council for redress.  The Council must commend Syria’s self-restraint and condemn the Israeli attack.


He said that the response of Israel was an example of the exploitation of the campaign against terrorism.  Israel’s problems arose from its illegal occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories.  The answer to individual acts of terrorism was not State terrorism, nor was it wanton attacks against other countries.  State power must distinguish between acts of terrorism and the legitimate struggle of peoples under foreign occupation for self-determination and liberation.  He urged the Council to speedily adopt Syria’s draft.


INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said that the situation during recent weeks had obligated everyone to call for prudence and restraint.  Any act that would unleash a spiral of violence must be rejected.  In that context, he firmly condemned yesterday’s attack in Haifa, which was “completely odious and reprehensible”, regardless of the date on which it was committed.  That act, however, should not result in overlooking or minimizing the extreme gravity of the attack perpetrated against Syria today, which was a patent violation of international law and worthy of condemnation.  He appealed for moderation in the Middle East; the parties should understand that reprisals only aggravated tensions.


WANG GUANGYA (China) said he was gravely concerned about the latest developments.  He strongly condemned the suicide bombing of 4 October, which resulted in many civilian casualties.  He opposed any measures that might threaten the peace process between Israel and Palestine, and strongly urged both sides to cease acts of violence and any other acts that might exacerbate tensions.  Hopefully, the parties would return to the proper track, as soon as possible, of settling disputes through negotiation.


EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) strongly condemned the bombing in Haifa and expressed condolences to the families of those killed and maimed.  He noted that Islamic Jihad had claimed responsibility for that action.  Israel’s action today was unacceptable, however, and represented an escalation.  Israel should not allow its justified anger at continuing terrorism to lead to actions that undermined both the peace process and Israel’s own interests.  At the same time, terrorists were continuing to attack Israel and they were being permitted to do so.


He said there was a heavy responsibility on all those in a position to act against terrorism to do so.  Allowing impunity to those committed to using terror as a political instrument only undermined peace and prevented progress in the Middle East peace process.  Lasting security could only be assured by a successful peace process, as was stressed at the conclusion of the Quartet meeting in New York on 25 September.  All sides should exercise restraint and now reinforce their efforts to implement the Road Map.


GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that developments in the Middle East had caused growing concern and alarm.  Following the large-scale terrorist act in Haifa, Israeli aviation, for the first time in many years, sent missile strikes targeted on Syrian territory near Damascus, where Israel said there were extremist and terrorist organizations.  There were also reports that other attacks against terrorists were coming.  Clearly, such acts were fraught with danger for other countries and might lead to even more dramatic and tragic consequences, both for the already very tense situation in the region, as well as for the international state of security.  He urged the parties to the conflict to show maximum restraint and to act in as balanced and responsible way as possible, so as to prevent any further escalation in that spiral of violence and avoid regional destabilization, the tragic results of which would be difficult to foresee.  The continuing escalation of violence in the Middle East dictated more energetic action by the international community. 


GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) reiterated the view of the German Chancellor that military action against Syria was unacceptable.  A violation of the sovereignty of a neighbouring State did not facilitate regional peace and stability.  Rather, such action made the conflict even more complicated.  He condemned the suicide bombing in Haifa, which killed 19 people and injured scores more.  Those acts of terrorism must be stopped, and whoever had the influence to that effect should exercise it.  Germany was very concerned about the deteriorating situation.  It was imperative to break the vicious circle and counter the violence.  De-escalation was only possible by returning to the Road Map.  That was the only alternative for resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and creating peace and stability in the Middle East.


JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) expressed his deep concern over the deteriorating situation and the seriousness of the rising tension.  He condemned violence from wherever it might originate, calling it unacceptable and politically ineffective, and obscuring the political horizon.  The attack near Damascus was an unacceptable violation of international law.  It was now the responsibility of all States in the region to refrain from increasing tensions.  At the same time, all acts of terrorism were unjustifiable and should be condemned.  France was committed to ensuring respect for international law.


The situation in the Middle East was very serious, he said.  Under such circumstances, he appealed to all parties to show restraint, so that reason could prevail.  There could be no lasting security without peace, which could only reign with negotiation; the force of weapons would not bring peace.  The opportunity for a comprehensive settlement, in keeping with the relevant Security Council resolutions, existed in the Road Map, which contained Syrian and Lebanese aspects, as well. 


STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) categorically condemned the terrorist act in Haifa yesterday.  It was important that all those who made possible those acts did their utmost to halt them, by putting an end to all material and moral support for them.  The murder of innocent children was particularly repugnant and odious.  Bulgaria believed that the armed action of Israel against Syria, however, was not in accordance with the United Nations Charter or with international law.  Like other delegations, that was an unacceptable act.  The only solution to the crisis in the Middle East, which was growing in seriousness, was implementation of the Road Map. 


HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) condemned the bombing perpetrated by the Israeli air strikes against Syrian territory.  That had flouted international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Such conduct was unacceptable and, indeed, the danger was that it would expand the scope of the conflict and further threaten regional peace and security.  He severely condemned the repugnant terrorist attack in Haifa.  Acts of such violence against civilians were not justifiable and never would be.  Chile would continue to condemn any act of terrorism.  Suicide attacks followed by the destruction of civilian homes, air attacks and additional acts of terror were all part of a vicious cycle of violence that must stop.  He appealed for prudence on the part of both Syria and Israel, and for all due restraint, to avoid taking decisions with even more serious consequences.


ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the suicide attack yesterday in Haifa.  Nothing could justify such an attack against innocent civilians.  That was, once again, an expression of extremism, which in no way contributed to the Palestinian cause.  The Security Council was bound to condemn such acts and appeal to the Palestinian Authority to genuinely work to avoid them.  The reprisals taken by Israel were equally repugnant.  In no way whatsoever was Israel helped by such acts, which only contributed to the spiral of violence.  The Israeli attack on Syrian territory was a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and also a grave act, imperilling international peace and security.


He noted with optimism the decision by Syria not to respond militarily to that aggression.  Since the matter had been brought before the Council, that body should take steps to reduce the tension.  He appealed to Israel to channel its own legitimate indignation in the appropriate ways, under the Charter.  The Council must be the forum in which disputes that threatened peace were diminished and resolved.  Hopefully, prudence, reason, international law and moderation would prevail.  Consequences to the region of any different behaviour would be “horrible”.


ISMAEL ABRAAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that the actions being examined this afternoon represented a very serious escalation in the violence that was already affecting world peace.  Those “acts of war”, namely, the direct strikes on Damascus and the recent attacks on Haifa, took place in the context of an already shaky peace.  The present situation demonstrated the real fragility of that peace and the need for a more comprehensive peace agreement for the entire region.  The parties must show a real commitment to put an end to the conflict and to the illogic of violence.  Violence was not stopped by more violence.  He reiterated his appeal to the States in the region to create a climate conducive to implementation of the Road Map, which alone would stop the building of walls and the acts that took place in Haifa and Damascus.


ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW (Guinea) said that nothing, absolutely nothing, could justify the Israeli air strike on Syrian territory.  That act was contrary to all acceptable standards of international conduct, and its sole purpose was to extend the “strategy of chaos” imposed on the Palestinian people and to all neighbouring States.  It also violated all Council resolutions aimed at a negotiated settlement.  He condemned terrorism in all its forms, including when those took the form of State terrorism.  In that respect, he condemned the terrorist attacks committed in Haifa on the eve of Yom Kippur.  Such “blindness” was not in the service of Palestinian peace.  The Israeli armed reprisal, however, was disproportionate and proceeded from a political desire to destroy the peace process.  He firmly condemned that military aggression and expressed concern at that attempt to illegally expand the conflict zone and destabilize the entire region.  The Israeli Government should show more self-restraint and moderation and comply with the relevant Council texts.  He wholeheartedly supported the draft resolution submitted today by Syria. 


MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that the recent acts were dangerous.  They were serious violations of the Road Map and the 1974 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Syria, and they jeopardized the prospects for a quick return to peace.  His country had always condemned terrorist acts, for which there was no justification.  It was firmly part of the struggle to defeat that scourge and was convinced that that must take place in the context of respect for human rights and strictly within the framework of international law.  In the face of the present dangerous escalation, he called on the parties to demonstrate a great deal of restraint.  They should refrain from any initiative that would exacerbate that delicate situation, and they must respect their commitments, both in the Road Map and in all earlier agreements.


He launched an urgent appeal to the Quartet to take immediate measures and to accelerate the daring measures envisaged in the Road Map.  They must, simultaneously, deal with the fundamental needs of the Israelis and Palestinians, namely, security for the former and the end of occupation for the latter.  Very heavy price would be paid if bold steps were not taken.


JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States), speaking in his national capacity, called on all sides to avoid heightening the tension in the Middle East and to think carefully about the consequences of their actions.  He was notified this morning of the Israeli action in Syria last night.  At 9 a.m., President Bush called Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and conveyed his condolences for the victims of Saturday’s attack at a restaurant in Haifa, which claimed the lives of 19 Israelis, including three children and five Israeli Arabs.  The United States and the Government of Israel agreed that it was important to avoid actions that could further heighten tension. 


He said that Syria was on “the wrong side” of the war on terrorism.  The United States had been clear about the need for Syria to cease harbouring terrorist groups, yet specific directions for such action continued to be issued from Syrian territory. Secretary of State Powell had told that Government last year that that was unacceptable and intolerable.  It was in Syria’s interest, and in the broader interest of Middle East peace, for Syria to stop harbouring and supporting the groups that perpetrated terrorist acts, such as the one that had occurred in Haifa.


YAHYA MAHMASSANI, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said the League’s Council had held an emergency meeting earlier in the day to denounce the attack this morning against Syria as a threat to international peace and security and a flagrant violation of international law.  The attack could further deteriorate the tense situation in the Middle East, pushing it into a cycle of violence.  The League, he continued, reaffirmed its support and solidarity with Syria and any measures that country must adopt to protect itself against such aggression.  It also called for the end of terrorist acts and of Israeli attacks against Syria and Lebanon.


The attack reaffirmed the aggressive nature of Israel and its lack of desire for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, he said.  Israel continued to act with complete impunity, implementing none of the 37 resolutions adopted by the Security Council.  Israel was naively presenting its acts as part of the fight against terrorism.  That battle would only be won when Israel withdrew from the occupied territories.  He said Israel must implement Security Council resolutions, the 2002 proposal from Beirut, and the principle of land for peace.


SAMI KRONFOL (Lebanon) said the Acting Foreign Minister of Lebanon had sent a letter this morning from Beirut to the Secretary-General and the Security Council requesting an immediate meeting to consider the Israeli military’s violation of Lebanese airspace today for the purpose of striking a site inside Syria.  The letter, which he requested be included in the official records of the meeting upon its translation from the Arabic, also stated that eight other Israeli planes had violated airspace in southern Lebanon.  Despite the repeated warnings of the Secretary-General and his representative in Lebanon, Israel had continued violating international law and violent acts against its neighbours.  This morning’s attack was a blatant aggression against the United Nations-sponsored blue line in southern Lebanon, endangering stability in that area, and could provoke a new cycle of violence in the Middle East.


Israel’s attack, he continued, was against a sister State with whom Lebanon maintained closest relations.  Moreover, Israel had no right to exploit the international campaign against terrorism and use it as a stalking horse to implement its policy of occupying Arab lands.  Such acts of aggression had become a daily routine and attempted to export Israel’s domestic crisis and present itself as a victim of oppression.  Israel’s tactics to justify its existence were known to all, but they had failed to intimidate Lebanon and Syria.  He called on the Security Council to condemn the Israeli aggression against a peaceful village in Syria, as it had condemned Israel’s attacks against many peaceful villages in Lebanon.  Those attacks were reckless and must be reigned in, he said.


ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said the Israeli attack was a textbook act of violence against Syria.  It was serious because it had occurred in a region of extreme tension and attempted to thwart the Road Map of the Quartet, and ran the risk of pushing the entire region into a spiral of violence.


The international community must adopt an attitude of sternness, he said.  Complacency in any degree would only encourage Israel’s aggressive policies.  The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Algeria had this morning condemned the attack as an act of aggression, and the only solution was a comprehensive settlement involving land for peace.  In view of Israel’s textbook act of aggression, he called on the Security Council to adopt the sternest possible attitude against Israel.


MOHAMMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said Syria was a victim of Israel’s act of aggression and flagrant violation of Syria’s territorial integrity.  Article 2 of the United Nations Charter called on all Member States to refrain from the use of force against sovereign States.  Israel had clearly violated international law.  Under the Charter, the use of force was legitimate only for self-defence.  That deliberate attack against Syria had nothing to do with self-defence or the principles of the Charter and fundamental standards of international law, nor was it a legitimate act of reprisal for the Palestinian attack in Haifa.  Under Chapter VII of the Charter, the international community must abide by the requirements of the Security Council to maintain international peace and security following a breach of peace.


He was alarmed by the escalation of violence in the Middle East and urged the Security Council to take appropriate measures to stop the violence and to demand that Israel respect the territorial integrity of its neighbours.  Morocco, he said, stood in complete solidarity with Syria.


ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) strongly condemned Israel’s act of aggression against Syria and its violation of international law.  No party could act outside the jurisdiction of paragraph 4 of Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, which prohibited the use of force except when used in self-defence or if the Security Council authorized the use of force.  In the case of self-defence, the right to use force was subject to the commission of an advance military aggression against that State.  Neither of those were the case this morning.


He called on Israel to end its aggression against its neighbours in the Middle East and to comply with Security Council resolutions related to the region.  Jordan, he said, stood in solidarity with Syria and was committed to advancing international peace and security in the Middle East.


AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) read a statement from Egypt’s Minister for Foreign Affairs made in Cairo earlier in the day.  The statement said that at a time when the international community was endeavouring to achieve peace in the Middle East, Israel had attacked, potentially igniting violence that could spread to other areas in the region.  Egypt expressed solidarity with the Syrian people, who remained devoted to international legality, and called on the international community to oppose the act of aggression.  Egypt condemned any aggression against civilians, including the attack in Haifa a day earlier.


The attack should prompt the international community to exercise its powers to ensure lasting peace, with full implementation of the 1967 Security Council resolutions calling for Israel and Palestine living side by side.  Any delay in achieving that would cause greater civilian casualties on all sides.  Today, the international community was given an opportunity to condemn interventionists, who had created havoc in the region, and to adopt stern measures to end the suffering.


He countered the statement of the Israeli Minister made earlier in the meeting in which he had condemned Egypt’s attack on Israel 30 years ago.  Egypt’s military action in the Suez Canal 30 years ago today, he said, had a clear goal -- to take back Egyptian territory in Sinai that had been seized and occupied by Israel.  That was in full compliance with the United Nations Charter and the principle of self-defence.


ALI HACHAMI (Tunisia) expressed his solidarity with Syria.  Echoing the sentiments of many speakers before him, he feared the Middle East was in danger of experiencing a serious escalation of violence and violation of international law.  He energetically deplored Israel’s use of Lebanon’s airspace to again commit an act of aggression against Syria.


He called on the Security Council to take urgent measures to end the violence and to bring about peace and stability in the region.  He also applauded Syria for taking the responsible position of refraining from retaliating against Israel with violence.  The Security Council, he said, must condemn today’s use of force and take into account Syria’s act of restraint and compliance with international law.


NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said Israel’s violation of Lebanon’s airspace added to a long list of Israeli aggression against many Arab countries and confirmed Israel’s insistence on using aggression.  He called on the Security Council to vigorously condemn this act and on Israel to end this pattern of attacks, which threatened to push the region into a cycle of violence.  He spoke from the position of a victim of Israeli aggression in the form of bloodshed in the past three years, decades of settlements and colonization, and the denial of the Palestinian right to sovereignty.


Palestine stood against all illegal acts of occupation.  The Palestinian leadership had condemned the explosion in Haifa.  Israel, he continued, must admit that such acts were acts of colonization and had to stop linking its dirty acts with the international fight against terrorism.  Moreover, Israel must stop building a wall around Palestine, stop threatening to kill the Palestinian leader, and stop attacks against other countries in the region, including Syria.  He fully supported the Syrian people, and said just and lasting peace could not occur unless Israel withdrew from the West Bank, Gaza and the Syrian Golan, and end its attacks in southern Lebanon.   


MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. AL-OTAIBI (Kuwait) condemned the Israeli attack on the Syrian village, saying it was a clear violation of the principles of international law.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s statement that condemned this act and shared the Secretary-General’s concerns that it could threaten the future development of peace in the region and thwart implementation of the Road Map.


Israel’s act of aggression would not give Israel the sense of security it desired and was pursuing.  Israel, he said, must stop shirking its responsibilities to resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land for peace, and withdraw from all Arab territories occupied since 1967.  Kuwait stood in solidarity with Syria and called on the Security Council to condemn this act and to call upon Israel not to repeat it.


FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said once again Israel had affirmed its disregard for international peace and legality and the terrorist and aggressive nature of the Israeli Government, committing an unprovoked aggression against a Syrian village.  The Israeli Government was using every pretext possible to export its internal crisis to Arab countries, wreaking havoc on the region.


He lauded the Secretary-General for condemning the acts and warning of the potential for increased aggression that might be difficult to contain.  He said it was imperative to implement the Road Map with due impartiality.  Saudi Arabia denounced the aggression against Syria, which had shown great restraint in the face of aggression.  He called upon Israel to put an end to organized State terrorism.


BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) vigorously condemned Israel’s attack against Syria and its flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolutions.  Since September 2000, approximately 3,600 people, including almost 2,800 Palestinian civilians, had died as a result of the violence.  A wall was being built to segregate the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.  Israel had violated Lebanon’s airspace and continued attacks in southern Lebanon.


Cuba fully supported the Syrian people, he said.  A just and lasting peace could not occur in the Middle East unless Israel withdrew from Gaza, the West Bank and the Syrian Golan.  He called on the Security Council to condemn the attack, and on Israel to comply with Security Council resolutions and the principles of international law.


JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) said Israel’s violation of Lebanese territory and airspace and attack against Syria clearly represented Israel’s persistent pursuit of attempting to justify its acts of aggression as part of the fight against terrorism.  The attack was indeed serious, launched at a time when tensions ran high in the region, and threatened to broaden the scope of violence.  The attack was in line with Israel’s continued pursuit and occupation of Arab lands and only added fuel to the fire.  Despite its slander campaign against Iran, Israel was running out of options to justify its occupation and was attacking Arab countries in an attempt to get out of the impasse it had created for itself, sending the entire region into a downward spiral.


Iran stood in full solidarity with Syria, he said, adding that it was unfortunate that the Security Council had thus far been prevented from shouldering its responsibility with regard to the Middle East crisis.  There was no doubt that the impunity Israel enjoyed had emboldened it to undertake more attacks.  He called on the Security Council to put an end to that cycle.


TAWFEEQ AHMED AL MANSOOR (Bahrain) called on the Security Council to investigate all the dangerous developments in the region, including the Israeli Government’s policy of war and provocation.  Israel’s aggression against sisterly Syria violated the United Nations Charter and international law.  It was a serious act that could escalate into violence throughout the region. 


Bahrain condemned the act and any severe violation of international legality.  It denounced any action that would lead to an outbreak of war.  He called for an end to the policy that had dragged the region into a cycle of violence and tension and for respect for the principles of international law, including State sovereignty.  He also praised Syria for responding to the aggression with a policy of restraint. 


ALI TREIKI (Libya) said today’s meeting of the Security Council was not the first, and would not be the last, to discuss Israeli aggression against Member States.  Israel’s terrorist acts had continued unabated for many years, as had its assassinations of Palestinians and the occupation of land.  Israel had never respected the United Nations Charter or Security Council resolutions.


This afternoon, he said, was an opportunity to stop the aggressor.  Syria and Palestine were victims today, and there was no telling who would become victims in the future.  The international community must speak truthfully to the Israelis, telling them that their continued aggressions, assassinations and occupation of land would not achieve the sense of security they sought.  Ending State terrorism and the illegal occupation of Arab lands was the only sure path to security.


Libya, he said, stood in solidarity with sisterly Syria and Lebanon.  Terrorism could not be stopped until the occupation ended.  He called on the Security Council to live up to its responsibility of condemning the attack and seeing to it that acts of violence and occupation ceased.


ABDULLAH ALSAIDI (Yemen) said that Israel had committed an act of aggression, the likes of which had not been seen for some 30 years.  Israel was tirelessly working to export its internal crises to neighbouring States.  It was truly regrettable that it had yet to understand that the just and comprehensive solution -- namely, the establishment of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the withdrawal from the occupied Arab, Syrian, and Lebanese territories -- would spare the people further bloodshed.  The Israeli act of aggression against Syria was a challenge to international law and to the resolutions of international legitimacy calling upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.


He said his country condemned that act and denounced it, and expressed its solidarity “with our brothers” in Syria and Lebanon.  He called upon the international community, and primarily the Security Council and the United Nations, to condemn that “senseless act of aggression”.  He also called upon them to adopt resolutions that would deter any further escalation pre-designed by Israel.  Such an escalation was an ominous threat to peace and stability in the region.


NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said his Foreign Ministry this morning had condemned and denounced the raid by the Israeli forces against sites in Syria.  Those actions gravely threatened peace and security in the Middle East and threatened to drag the region back to war and tension.  His country stood by Syria and called upon the international community to pressure Israel to stop those acts of aggression and commit to implementing international, legally binding resolutions, leading to the withdrawal of all occupied Arab territories.  The aggression against Syria defied all international rules and laws and was a clear violation of the disengagement agreement between the Syrian and Israeli forces.  It affirmed Israel’ s desire to export its internal crises to widen the war, under the guise of combating terrorism.  He joined the list of co-sponsors of the draft before the Council.  That body should assume its full responsibility, under those very delicate circumstances.


ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said that, for the second time in less than a month, speakers were back in the Council, owing to Israel’s repeated violations of international law.  He was deeply concerned at the violation by Israeli planes of Lebanese and Syrian airspaces, and the commission of aggression against the territories of both countries, targeting a civilian site to the north-west of Damascus, which had led to material damage.  That aggression was a dangerous escalation, which could threaten international peace and security and expose the already bad situation to repercussions that could not be calculated or controlled.  He condemned the Israeli aggression.  He asked the Council to shoulder its responsibility and immediately prevent Israel from continuing its provocative acts against the Syrian and Palestinian peoples, as well as against other Arab States.


Mr. MEKDAD (Syria) took the floor again, he said, because of the “unfounded lies” used by the Israeli representative to distract attention from the reason for the meeting, namely, Israeli violation of Syrian and Lebanese airspaces.  Those were acts of aggression committed against Member States of both the Council and the United Nations.  Israel told unfounded lies and attempted to distort facts and realities -- that had been the pattern since 1948.  He would not respond to the unfounded lies perpetrated and promoted by the representative of the “Israeli war government”, because the points in his statement deserved simply to be “thrown in the waste paper basket in this Council”.  The logic promoted by the Israeli delegate was that of a gang, and not that of a responsible party. 


He said that, what was more arrogant was that he came here to preach about the Israeli experience, despite the fact that everyone here knew very well that that experience was not exactly honourable.  He would have preferred to hear the reasons for the Israeli failure to implement the scores of resolutions adopted by the United Nations and the Security Council ever since the State of Israel was established.  The representative chose to ignore the main reason behind the catastrophes in the region.  He chose to ignore the bloodletting and daily Israeli acts of aggression against Palestinian civilians and Arab States.  The continued Israeli occupation was the reason for the presence of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of refugee Palestinians, whose situation was supposed to have been temporary, until they could return to the country from which they were expelled by Israel and replaced by illegitimate settlers and illegitimate settlements. 


The Palestinian leadership, the field Palestinian leadership, was present inside the Palestinian territories, he went on.  It was illogical, therefore, for tactical and geographical reasons, to say that the Palestinians that resided in Syria could plan for operations that took place on Palestinian territories.  Accusing Syria with what the Israeli representative had termed “giving refuge to terrorist organizations” had been “a desperate attempt to get out of its dead end and to export its internal crises across the borders”.  Israel chose to ignore that it had been the first to introduce the concept of terrorism in the region, in the form of gangs, which were really the nucleus of the Israeli army.  One of them was still wanted in the United Kingdom today. 


He said that, in combating terrorism, Syria stood side by side with all the countries of the world.  He challenged Council members not to accept the notions put forth by the Israeli speaker today.  He thanked those speakers who had condemned the Israeli acts of aggression against his country.  In so doing, they had supported the Charter and international legitimacy.  That was the right course of action.


* *** *