Security Council fails to pass measure on Middle East violence; US vetoes text as isolating one party

UN Security Council in session

15 December 2001 – Meeting into the early hours of Saturday morning on the situation in the Middle East, the Security Council today failed to adopt a draft resolution by which it would have condemned all acts of extrajudiciary executions, excessive use of force and wide destruction of property, and would have encouraged the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to help the parties.

The draft received 12 votes in favour with two abstentions (Norway and United Kingdom) but was not adopted after the United States exercised its veto power in the 15-member body.

The representative of the United States, Ambassador John Negroponte, said the draft failed to address the dynamic at work in the region. Instead, its purpose was to isolate politically one of the parties to the conflict, through an attempt to throw the weight of the Council behind the other party. A fundamental flaw of the resolution, he stressed, was that it never mentioned the recent acts of terrorism against Israelis or those responsible for them.

By the terms of the draft, the Council would have demanded the immediate cessation of all acts of violence, provocation and destruction, as well as the return to the positions and arrangement which existed prior to September 2000. Also by the draft, the Council would have condemned all acts of terror, in particular those targeting civilians.

Further, the Council would have called on the two sides to start the comprehensive and immediate implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell report in a speedy manner, and it would have encouraged all concerned to establish a monitoring mechanism to help implement the recommendations of that report and help create better conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The draft was sponsored by Egypt and Tunisia, whose representatives addressed the Council during a three-hour debate that involved over 20 speakers. Ambassador Ahmed Aboul Gheit of Egypt, Chairman of the Arab Group, said that the draft resolution before the Council required both sides to take the necessary measures to put an end to the violence, provocation and destruction, as well as to implement the recommendations of the Mitchell report.

Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine, said the Israeli decision to end negotiations meant the abandonment of the peace process, instead of resolving the conflict and establishing peace in the region. He said the Palestinians had expressed their readiness to pursue the peace process and the Israeli Government must stop doubting that. The Palestinian Authority had taken a clear stand against terrorism and had joined the coalition against terrorism after 11 September, Mr. Al-Kidwa stressed, and it also condemned the terrorist attacks committed by suicide bombers against Israel.

For his part, Ambassador Aaron Jacob of Israel said the past two weeks had seen an incredible escalation of Palestinian terrorism against his country that was unparalleled in more than 14 months of violence. And Palestinian violence was continuing even as the Council met, despite the insistence by the international community that Chairman Arafat fulfill his responsibilities to fight terrorism. He said the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East and a negotiated settlement was the continuing murder of civilians, and the attempts to justify those murders by the Palestinian leadership. Calling the draft text unbalanced and counter-productive, he said it would not help the parties to return to the negotiating table, which was the only place where outstanding issues could be resolved.

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