05/10/2004
Press Release
SC/8207


Security Council

5051st Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL FAILS TO ADOPT TEXT DEMANDING END


TO ISRAELI MILITARY OFFENSIVE IN GAZA


Draft Resolution Supported by 11 Members; United States,

Exercising Veto, Calls It ‘Lopsided’ and against Cause of Peace


Rejecting a draft resolution in the Security Council today that would have demanded an end to the Israeli military offensive in Gaza, the representative of the United States said the text was “dangerously disingenuous” because of what it failed to say.  He added that when the rest of the world “ganged up” on Israel with silence about terrorism, it did not advance the cause of peace.


The draft resolution, tabled by Algeria, Pakistan and Tunisia, was defeated on the negative vote of the United States.  Eleven members voted in favour.  There were three abstentions (Germany, Romania, United Kingdom).  The Council would have called on Israel to ensure the unfettered access and safety of United Nations personnel and all medical and humanitarian aid workers to provide emergency assistance to civilians, and on both parties to immediately implement their obligations under the Road Map.


The United States representative said the “lopsided and unbalanced” draft condemned Israel’s military actions in Gaza and criticized what it called “incursions” into the Jabaliya refugee camp.  It condemned Israeli acts of “destruction”, and it lamented “extensive human casualties” among Palestinians, but it had not mentioned even one of the 450 Qassam rocket attacks launched against Israel over the past two years, or the two Israeli children who were outside playing last week when a rocket suddenly crashed into their young bodies.  It did not mention the undisputed fact that Qassam rockets had no military purpose, and were crude, imprecise devices of terror designed to kill civilians.  Nor had it mentioned the complete failure of the Palestinian Authority to meet its commitments to establish security among its people, or the legitimate right of Israel to defend itself.


Algeria’s representative said it was a sad day for the Palestinian people and the cause of justice.  By failing to act, the Council had once again failed the Palestinian people and had confirmed that, when it came to Israel, it was unable to take action.  The Council today had caused more frustration, disappointment and despair among the Palestinians and all who considered the Council to be the custodian of international law and the protector of the weak.


Agreeing that the Council had again failed to fulfil its responsibilities under the Charter, Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations said that today 20 bullets riddled the body of a Palestinian child of 13 years of age on her way to school.  He had not heard a word about Israeli tanks, bulldozers, military gunships, military jets made in the United States or missiles, and not a word about the destruction of the lives and future of the Palestinian people.


Israel’s representative said he was pleased that the draft had not been adopted as it should have never been considered.  A text that condemned mechanisms for fighting terrorism instead of terrorism itself distorted the issues at hand, and a resolution that indicted the victims of terror rather than murder was wrong.  Israel had the right and duty to defend its citizens from the rain of missiles as long as the Palestinian leadership did nothing to stifle terrorism. 


Explanations of vote were also made by the representatives of Brazil, France, Pakistan, Philippines, Chile, Russian Federation, Romania, Spain, China, Germany, and the United Kingdom.


The meeting began at 5:07 p.m. and was adjourned at 5:55 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, for which it had before it a draft resolution submitted by Algeria, Pakistan and Tunisia, as follows:


“The Security Council,


Reaffirming its previous resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 1322 (2000), 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002), 1403 (2002), 1405 (2002), 1435 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1544 (2004),


Expressing its grave concern at the continued deterioration of the situation on the ground in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967,


Condemning the broad military incursion and attacks by the Israeli occupying forces in the area of Northern Gaza Strip, including in and around the Jabaliya refugee camp, resulting in extensive human casualties and destruction and exacerbating the dire humanitarian situation,


Reiterating its call upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War of 12 August 1949,


Recalling the obligations of the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel under the Road Map,


Condemning all acts of violence, terror, excessive and indiscriminate use of force, and physical destruction,


Reaffirming its support for the Road Map endorsed in its resolution 1515 (2003),


“1.  Demands the immediate cessation of all military operations in the area of Northern Gaza and the withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from that area;


“2.  Reiterates its call for the cessation of violence and for respect of and adherence to legal obligations, including those under international humanitarian law;


“3.  Calls on Israel, the occupying Power, to ensure the unfettered access and safety of United Nations personnel and all medical and humanitarian aid workers to provide emergency assistance to the civilian population, and calls for the respect of the inviolability of the facilities of the United Nations agencies in the field, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA);


“4.  Calls on both parties to immediately implement their obligations under the Road Map and with this goal in mind closely cooperate with the ‘Quartet’;


“5.  Decides to remain seized of the matter.”


Action on Draft Resolution


Speaking before the vote on the draft resolution on the Middle East, JOHN DANFORTH (United States) said that, once again, the draft was “lopsided and unbalanced”.  It was “dangerously disingenuous” because of its many material omissions.  Because of that lack of balance, because of those omissions, the text lacked credibility and deserved a “no” vote, both for what it said and then for what it failed to say.  The text condemned Israel’s military actions in Gaza; it criticized what it called “incursions” into the Jabaliya refugee camp; it condemned Israeli acts of “destruction”, and it lamented “extensive human casualties” among Palestinians.  It demanded that Israel, as the “occupying Power”, withdraw its forces immediately.  Those were tough words.


He said the United States had no problem with “tough words”, but only when those were accurate and there was balance.  The draft did not mention even one of the 450 Qassam rocket attacks launched against Israel over the past two years.  It did not mention 200 rockets launched this year alone.  It did not mention the two Israeli children who were outside playing last week when a rocket suddenly crashed into their young bodies.  It did not mention the undisputed fact that Qassam rockets had no military purpose –- that those were crude, imprecise devices of terror designed to kill civilians.  It did not mention that Hamas took “credit” for killing those Israeli children and maiming many other Israeli civilians –- calling those deaths and woundings a “victory”.  It did not mention that the terrorists hid among Palestinian civilians, provoking their deaths, and then used those deaths as fodder for their hatred, lawlessness, and efforts to derail the peace process.


In addition, he went on, the draft did not mention the complete failure of the Palestinian Authority to meet its commitments to establish security among its people.  The text did not acknowledge the legitimate need for Israel to defend itself; it was totally lacking in balance.  When the rest of the world “ganged up” on Israel with insidious silence about terrorism, it did not advance the cause of peace.  It encouraged both sides to dig in; it made Israel feel isolated and backed into a corner, and it discouraged dialogue.


Both sides needed to renounce violence, recommit to the Road Map, and move quickly to establish a PalestinianState.  But, until the Palestinians and those claiming to act in their name stopped their use of indiscriminate acts of terror, Israel would likely continue to track down the terrorists wherever those might hide, often with the tragic but unintended result of civilian casualties.


The Security Council should “reverse the incessant stream” of one anti-Israel resolutions after the other, and apply pressure even-handedly, on both sides, to return to the road to peace.  The United States would vote “no” on that text.


Proceeding to the vote, the draft resolution was defeated by a vote of 11 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 3 abstentions (Germany, Romania, United Kingdom).


Speaking after the vote, ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) regretted that such a balanced and credible text, that had merely called on Israel to end its military operation, had not gained the Council’s unanimous endorsement.  By failing to take action, the Council was once again failing the Palestinian people and sending the wrong message to the world.  It also confirmed that when it came to Israel, the Security Council was unable to take action, let alone under Chapter VII.  It also strengthened the impression that the Council was only effective when it dealt with Arab countries, the latest example of which was the prompt adoption of resolution 1559 on Lebanon, although there had been no threat to international peace and security.


He said the Council was causing more frustration, disappointment and despair among the Palestinians and all who considered the Council as the custodian of international law and the protector of the weak.  More importantly, it would reinforce the sentiment of impunity among the Israeli leaders who would feel emboldened to pursue and expand their military operations in Gaza and elsewhere.  Thanking all who had voted in favour of the draft, he said it was a sad day for the Palestinians and the cause of justice.


RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said he had voted in favour of the draft, as his Government strongly deplored the acts of violence carried out on the northern border of Gaza, in particular, the offensive conducted by the Israeli Defence Forces under the code name “Days of Penitence”.  That incursion had resulted in more than 70 deaths and more than 250 wounded.  While expressing his support for the call made by the Secretary-General in his note of 3 October in favour of a ceasefire, he had also hoped that, with the engagement of the international community, the parties involved in the conflict would halt the violence and resume the peace talks under the pattern set forth in the Road Map.


JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) said he had supported the draft calling for the immediate cessation of the Israeli military operations in the north of the Gaza Strip and contained a condemnation of acts of terrorism.  It also reaffirmed the need for the speedy implementation of the Road Map.  The last two points were essential to France.  Also crucial was for the Council to respond rapidly to the deteriorating situation, and he appealed to reason in that regard.  He recognized the right of Israel to respond, in the context of international law.  He regretted that, once again, the Council had been paralysed on the core issue –- core to international peace and security.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said his delegation had co-sponsored the draft, which sought to address an emergency humanitarian situation arising from the Israeli military incursion that had led to some 80 deaths, including women and children.  Apart from its humanitarian dimension, the incursion constituted a violation of international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, warranting Council action under its Charter obligations.  Politically, the situation posed a great danger to ongoing peace efforts in the region.


Unfortunately, the Council had not met the expectations of the Palestinians, as well as the wider public opinion in the Muslim world, he added.  It also indicated that the Council, in certain situations, was unable to act.  Today’s inaction would not contribute to the cause of peace and justice in the Middle East.  The sense of helplessness among Palestinians would further aggravate an already volatile situation.  By not acting, the Council had missed an opportunity to contribute to peace in the Middle East.


BAYANI MERCADO (Philippines), noting that he had supported the draft, reiterated his delegation’s concern with the escalating violence in the Middle East and urged both sides to halt the violence.  There would be no peace in the Middle East unless the cycle of attack and reprisal stopped on both sides.  He appealed to both sides to respect the peace process under the aegis of the Road Map.


CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said he had voted in favour of the draft, as Chile condemned any act of violence whatever its origin and especially when civilian victims were involved.  He recognized Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorist acts, as long as they fell within international legality.  He appealed for caution and the need to act within the context of international humanitarian law.  He also rejected what had been done against the Israeli population.  He reminded the parties to protect the civilian population and end the violence.  He also appealed for the resumption of negotiations within the context of the Road Map.


ANDREY DENISOV (Russian Federation) said his Foreign Minister today had emphasized in the course of talks that the important thing now was to take urgent steps to put an end to the urgent confrontation.  As he himself understood it, the main objective of the draft was to stop the violence, but the text required more balance.  He had suggested changes, but those had been taken into account only partially.  Nevertheless, he had decided to support the resolution.


MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC (Romania) said he could not support the draft and had abstained in the vote.  The text did not reflect amendments, which described fairly the facts and responsibilities on both sides with regard to the recent dramatic events, or their reciprocal obligations to prevent the escalation of violence.  He was deeply concerned about the deteriorating security on the ground and the fate of numerous Palestinians suffering from Israeli military incursion.  He recognized Israel’s right to defend its citizens, but that could be exercised only in the boundaries of international law.  Operations, such as the one in northern Gaza, were not helpful to Israeli security.  He encouraged the parties to resume talks and agree to a ceasefire.  A just, comprehensive and lasting peace could be achieved only through negotiations, as envisaged in the Road Map and in accordance with the provisions of the relevant Security Council resolutions.


JUAN ANTONIO YAÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) said he had fully expressed his views yesterday on the issues.  On the basis of the principles set forth and the statements made in that debate, he had cast a vote in support of the text today.  He regretted that it could not have been adopted.  It contained certain elements essential to dealing with the situation, given the urgency of the required response and the gravity of unfolding events.  Reference had been made in the text not only for the need to stop the military operations and for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the area, but also to condemn all acts of violence, terrorism, indiscriminate force and destruction.  Regrettably, the Council had been unable to shoulder its responsibility.  The situation would have to remain under consideration.  Meanwhile he called on both parties to comply with their obligations.


ZHANG YISHAN (China) said he had supported the draft resolution and regretted that it had not been adopted.  China’s position was clear and consistent.  He believed that as a core body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Council should bear responsibility for protecting the safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.  Negotiation was the only way to achieve peace.  He urged the parties to resume dialogue and return to political negotiations.


GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said his position regarding the resolution of the Middle East situation was well known.  He had tried to introduce into the draft resolution a number of important amendments, but had not succeeded.  Therefore, Germany had abstained.


EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said he remained greatly concerned about the ongoing violence and bloodshed and urged both sides to take steps to end the violence.  The United Kingdom condemned all acts of terrorism, including the firing of Qassam rockets.  It also recognized Israel’s right to defend itself.  Israel’s response must be proportionate, however, and respond to international law.  The current operation was resulting in deaths and injury and was not proportionate to the threat it faced from rocket attacks.  The text wrongly gave the impression that fault lay only on the Israeli side.  The responsibility lay with both sides.  The resolution should have acknowledged Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism.  It should also have called on the Palestinian Authority to take firm action on acts of terrorism and their perpetrators.  The solution to the conflict lay in the Road Map, he added.


NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations, said that today was yet another sad day for the Security Council, which had again failed to fulfil its responsibilities under the Charter, by not taking a stand with regard to the bloodshed against the Palestinian people, specifically now, in northern Gaza, by the Israeli occupation forces.  It failed to do that, and it failed to call for an end to the bloodshed and destruction.  At the start of today’s meeting, there had been some words about victims among the Israeli children without a single word about the Palestinian children.  They suffered much more.  Today, 20 bullets riddled the body of a Palestinian child of 13 years of age on her way to school.


He said he had not heard a word about Israeli tanks, bulldozers, military gunships, military jets made in the United States or missiles -– and not a single word about the destruction of the lives of the Palestinian people as a whole and of their future.  What was the difference between the acts of some Palestinian groups and the too many acts of the Israeli occupying forces?  Both were aimed at civilians.  The real difference was that the Palestinian groups were acting against the will of the Palestinian Authority, while the actions of the Israeli occupying forces were committed by an official army pursuing an official policy of the Government of a MemberState of the United Nations.


On the question of Israel’s right to self-defence, he said it was inadmissible to talk about that right as if that were in regard to a regular peace-loving country, in full respect of the law.  Israel was an occupying Power, and the question of self-defence had been addressed by the International Court of Justice.  Naturally, Israel had the right to defend its citizens, but on the basis that it was an occupying Power.  Attempts at exoneration in that regard were unacceptable, now or in the future.


He said today’s veto was the seventh by the current United States Administration on draft resolutions on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.  It was the twenty-ninth veto by the United States on related drafts.  That summed up the entire tragedy of the Middle East.


DAN GILLERMAN (Israel) thanked those who had courageously chosen to oppose or not to vote on the draft resolution.  The draft should never have been considered.  How anyone could have described the text as balanced, when it demanded certain things from Israel while not even hinting at the horror caused by the Palestinians, escaped him.  A draft that condemned mechanisms for fighting terrorism instead of terrorism itself distorted issues at hand.  Ignoring its obligations, the Palestinian leadership had allowed terrorists to act with impunity from within its territory, aiming their aggression towards civilian populations.  Israel would respect its obligations to defend its citizens, while also respecting its obligations to international humanitarian law.  Israel had the right and duty to defend its citizens from “the rain of missiles” so long as the Palestinian leadership did nothing to stifle terrorism against the Israeli people.


He said the Palestinian leadership had brought the destruction on its own people by holding them hostage in its evil grip of terror.  Were it not for that tragic leadership, and the choice of terror rather than settlement, the Palestinian people would long ago have their own State.  The draft would have done nothing to end the suffering for either the Israelis or the Palestinians, but would have worked against the vital interests of both groups.  By focusing solely on Israeli actions, and failing to condemn the terrorism, the Council would have emboldened the terrorist to obstruct the path to peace.


He said the struggle towards peace must be advanced.  One-sided drafts did not contribute towards the goal of a peaceful Middle East, but only contributed to keeping peace forever out of reach.  The Council had an obligation to the victims of terrorism and the struggle for peace.  Palestinian terrorist organizations were the true enemies of peace, and of the Palestinian and Israeli people, and should be the focus of the Council’s attention.


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