ISR"L SHOULD RESCIND DECISION TO BUILD SETTLEMENT IN EAST JERUSALEM, SAY SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL
ISR"L SHOULD RESCIND DECISION TO BUILD SETTLEMENT IN EAST JERUSALEM, SAY SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL
ISRAEL SHOULD RESCIND DECISION TO BUILD SETTLEMENT IN EAST JERUSALEM, SAY SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL19970306 Forty-nine Speakers Address Council on Proposed Housing Project; Many Describe Project as Attempt to 'Judaize' Jerusalem before Negotiations
Concluding a two-day meeting this afternoon, speakers in the Security Council called upon the Government of Israel to rescind its 26 February decision to build a new settlement in the Jabal Abu Ghneim area of East Jerusalem.
Forty-nine speakers addressed the Council on the issue, with a number of them characterizing the recent Israeli action -- approval of plans for Har Homa, a 6,500 unit housing project -- as part of an overall Government plan to create a fait accompli and ensure the Judaization of Jerusalem before the beginning of negotiations on the final status of the city. Many speakers called upon the Israeli Government to refrain from any action that altered the facts on the ground or prejudged the final status negotiations.
Some speakers referred to the recent statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which reiterated his country's absolute sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, as evidence of an uncompromising and unstatesmanlike attitude that could only harm the peace process. The representative of Malaysia cautioned that a partnership would not endure if one of the partners acted irresponsibly and trampled underfoot those things that were held dear by the other party.
At the beginning of the debate yesterday, the Observer for Palestine had emphasized that Israel was not the pure owner of Jerusalem, and there would be no peace in the region without the attainment of Palestinian and Arab rights in the holy city. The representative of Israel said that Jerusalem's centrality to Judaism transcended geographical boundaries, and, in any event, the existing agreements did not accord the Palestinians any standing with regard to any actions taken in Jerusalem.
The representative of the Russian Federation pointed out yesterday afternoon that those with strong religious belief, especially Muslims, were extremely sensitive to changes in the status quo of East Jerusalem. The issue of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories would be emphasized during forthcoming contacts with the Israeli leaders in Moscow. As a co- sponsor of the peace process, the Russian Federation was convinced that the
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situation required resolute action to ensure an early settlement of the situation in East Jerusalem and the progression of the peace process.
The representative of the Netherlands, speaking this morning on behalf of the European Union and associated States, reaffirmed the legal status of Jerusalem, and most notably the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. East Jerusalem was not under Israeli sovereignty and, therefore, Israel should refrain from building the new settlement in Har Homa, he added.
The Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference assured the Council this afternoon that as soon as the necessary measures to restore peace and security in the area had been undertaken, the Conference and its 54 member States would reinforce their wholehearted support of the peace process.
Statements were also made today by the representatives of Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Kuwait, Indonesia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Iran, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Pakistan, Oman, Canada, Morocco, Cuba, Sudan, Qatar, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Philippines and Malta.
The meeting, which was resumed at 10:52 p.m. today, was suspended at 1:15 p.m. It was again resumed at 3:22 p.m. and adjourned at 4:23 p.m. The next meeting of the Council to continue consideration of the situation in the occupied Arab territories will be determined in consultations.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to resume its debate on the situation in the occupied Arab territories, specifically the decision of the Israeli Government to begin construction on new housing in the Jabal Abu Ghneim area of East Jerusalem. (For background on the meeting, see Press Release SC/6331 of 5 March.) Statements ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said, at a time where hope in the peace process had been reborn, the Israeli authorities had once again chosen to undermine the process and provoke the international community. It was part of a calculated plan to continue the policy of settlements and change the demographic and legal status of the city of Jerusalem, which was contrary to the peace accords already achieved. It was also contrary to previous Council resolutions, which made the recent Israeli settlement decision null and void. He condemned the latest Israeli measure and demanded that it be rescinded. In the face of the great dangers posed by the Israeli decision, the Council must react immediately to restore its own credibility and the peace process. MOHAMMAD J. SAMHAN (United Arab Emirates) said the Israeli scheme, which aimed at the Judaization of Al-Quds, was a continuation of an Israeli programme of expropriation of land and the isolation of East Jerusalem. He condemned all the Israeli violations as contrary to international law. The measures stripped the peace process of all content and would only result in an escalation of violence in the occupied Arab territories. The international community and the co-sponsors of the peace process must ensure the continuity of that process by demanding the end of the Israeli settlement policies. The Council must adopt the means necessary to stop Israel's illegal measures against the Palestinian people. The rights of the Palestinian people must be fully restored and the Israelis must withdraw from all occupied territories. SLAHEDDINE ABDELLAH (Tunisia) said the decision by the Israeli Government was part of a persistent wish to impose a policy of fait accompli in Jerusalem. It defied international law and public opinion. It was regrettable that the Council had received only false reasoning from the Israeli Government in defence of its decision. The building of the new settlement was part of a plan to isolate Jerusalem from the West Bank and to impose a new reality on the ground. The peace process in the Middle East had been based on the relevant Council resolutions. The Oslo accords did not run counter to those principles, he said. They agreed to defer certain difficult issues, but they did not allow any change on the ground. Israel, as occupying Power, had no legal authority in East Jerusalem. The continuation of recent Israeli practices could only return the region to more conflict. Jerusalem was a grave issue for the Palestinian and for all Muslim peoples. No justification existed for the illegal settlement policies of the Israeli Government.
MOHAMMAD A. ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said the recent decision by the Israeli Government represented a regressive step in the peace process, which threatened to destroy hopes. The Israeli Government did not realize that such policies would lead to violence and instability, a cycle that would violate the very concept of security put forward by the Israeli Government. The
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decision on settlements was part of a continuing Israeli policy which deprived the Palestinian people of their rights and isolated the city.
He said the plan was a violation of the 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements signed by the Israelis and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). With the issue of final status about to be negotiated, the Israeli plan suggested a new strategy to evade previous commitments and revoke the principle of "land for peace". The Israeli Government must respect the principles upon which the peace process had been built. He appealed to the Council to take action as soon as possible to preserve the sacred nature of Al-Quds and preserve the hopes of achieving a lasting peace. NUGROHO WISNUMURTI (Indonesia) said the decision by the Israeli Government to build new settlements in Jerusalem represented the latest brazen attempt at pre-empting the outcome of negotiations on final status by changing the legal and demographic composition of Jerusalem. That action, combined with other recent measures, was aimed at creating new facts on the ground to the detriment not only of the interests of the Palestinian people, but also the very peace process itself.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference had called upon the Council to take urgent steps to ensure that the Government of Israel reversed its decision and renounced any settlement activity in all Arab territories, in particular East Jerusalem. He expressed the hope that the Council debate would lead to adoption of concrete measures to reverse the latest Israeli transgressions in the occupied territories. He commended the Palestinian Authority for encouraging restraint and opting for peaceful methods to resolve the current crisis.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said the Council was meeting in important and delicate circumstances, given the Israeli attempt to undermine the peace process in the Middle East. Israel was once again defying the international will by continuing its settlement activities. It was no longer possible to remain silent in the face of all the injustices being inflicted on the Palestinian people. Israel was attempting to enshrine the occupation of Al-Quds, which violated all the laws of the international community and the relevant Security Council resolutions that had affirmed the inadmissibility of the acquisition of the territory of others by force.
Israel's Government had planned the new provocation within the framework of the campaign to Judaize Jerusalem, he continued. The decision was aimed at creating an explosive situation. The Security Council resolution adopted in September last year on the building of the tunnel near the Al-Aqsa Mosque had called for an end to actions that had negative repercussions on the Middle East peace process. Israel had not respected that resolution nor previous ones. It pursued provocative behaviour, which must be firmly denounced by the international community.
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The Council of the League of Arab States had condemned such action, he said. The recent Islamic Conference of foreign ministers had also called on the international community to induce Israel to end its settlement policy. Israeli settlement action undermined the foundation of the peace process. It was a declaration of war. The Israeli Government had shown a determination to strike blow after blow at the peace process. Was it political wisdom for Israel to harden its position in the peace process? he asked.
The arrogance of the Israeli Government undermined the peace process, he said. The settlement policy would bring the region back into a cycle of violence and war. Condemning all of the Israeli settlement action, he said the Council must pressure Israel to respect all international instruments and United Nations resolutions on the illegality of settlements. Israel would not stifle the Arab will. The Council should shoulder its responsibility and adopt a resolution to demand a halt to Israel's settlement activity, including in Al-Quds and the Golan.
ABDULRAHMAN AL-AHMED (Saudi Arabia) said holy Jerusalem was the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the most pivotal issue that occupied the attention of the Arab Muslim world. The way in which the issue was resolved would decide the future of the peace process in its entirety. Therefore, it was of concern to see how the Israeli authorities were continuing to commit acts that intended to change the demographic and structural character and which aimed to Judaize holy Jerusalem, as well as its legal, historical, religious and cultural reality. It also adversely influenced the negotiations on Jerusalem's future.
The future of the Middle East and of the peace process were in the hands of the international community, he said. Unless it moved to save the process, by demanding that Israel cease its settlement practices and policies in Jerusalem, the process and the agreements already signed between the parties would be in grave danger. He rejected the continuous Israeli attempts to build new settlements. The Council must guarantee that Israel, as the occupying Power, desisted from those policies and practices, in particular any settlements in Arab Jerusalem. If that was not done, the region would be once more engulfed in a whirlpool of conflict, tension and instability.
HASAN ABU-NIMAH (Jordan) said Israeli was making decisions about land that was in Arab territory and that should be returned. Jordan was firmly opposed to the decision. Al-Quds was occupied territory. The decision was fraught with consequences and ran counter to all the foundations of the peace process and the rules that provided for land for peace. It also ran counter to a range of international instruments and United Nations resolutions. It was an attempt to squeeze out the population.
Jordan had signed a full peace treaty with Israel and had complied with all its requirements and those of the peace process, he said. Those who
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wished to reach peace had tried every way possible to cooperate with Israel and reach the global and lasting peace that the international community desired. The recent Israeli action had retarded the peace process.
Stressing that peace could not be contemplated without the return of land, he urged the Council to adopt a firm resolution that would demand that Israel rescind its settlement activity and any obstacles to the peace process. The international community should also oppose the Israeli action. The commitment to peace was the only choice. If peace did not come, the consequences for the region were well known. It must be consolidated by all the parties to the peace process.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the international community had been jolted by the recent decision of the Israeli Government to build new settlements in Jabal Abu Ghneim in East Jerusalem. That move violated the spirit and terms of the agreements to which the Israeli Government was party. It also raised doubts about the sincerity of that Government regarding the peace process. It was now trying to pre-empt the outcome of the negotiations on the final status by changing the legal and demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem. The Israelis needed to be reminded that Jerusalem was a place of crucial importance to the entire Muslim world, in particular, and the international community, in general.
Israel must not underestimate the devastating backlash that its hasty and provocative decision might unleash, he continued. It could throw the entire region into a spiral of uncertainty and chaos. He deplored the illegal and provocative measures initiated by Israel that could jeopardized the progress on peace in the Middle East. He earnestly hoped that the Security Council would take urgent steps to ensure that the Israeli Government reversed its decision to build the settlements and desisted from any settlement activity in the occupied territories in the future.
KAMAL KHARRAZI (Iran) said the notorious policy of building settlements in the occupied territories had been part of the grand design of the occupiers to change the basic characteristics of the Palestinian territories in order to perpetuate its occupation. Israel continued to contravene international law, because it appeared to realize that the Council was not prepared to live up to its commitments to stop aggression. That failure was due to the unqualified support of certain members who, at the most, expressed only dissatisfaction with the atrocious Israeli practices. Had the Council adopted concrete measures in the past, the present calamity would not have taken place.
The continuous process of Judaization of Jerusalem denied the historical fact that Muslims had always comprised the majority of inhabitants in Jerusalem, he continued. The Council had the legal and moral authority to speak out against the violation of international law by the Zionist regime. Action was all the more imperative in light of the intention of the Israeli
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leaders to build the illegal settlements, despite the outrage of the local inhabitants and condemnation from all over the world. The Israeli Government deserved no leniency whatsoever.
RAVAN FARHADI (Afghanistan) said Israel's new settlement practices were unlawful and were doing great harm to the peace process. Israel had quoted the Bible in yesterday's meeting on the issue of Jerusalem. However, a passage in Zacharias also referred to people of different nations living in Jerusalem to adore God. The Koran stated that Abraham was not just the forefather of a single nation. The question was Islamic, as well as Arab. Islamic people had continuously demonstrated their intense devotion to the city of Al-Quds.
The Israeli settlement policies created a real obstacle to a just and lasting peace, he said. Building settlements in the occupied territories did not build confidence in the peace process; it destroyed prospects for peace. The confiscation of property only provoked the victims to resist. Such policies only supported a long-term confrontation. The almost total agreement in the Council meeting should allow it to act. The meeting should end in a denunciation of any action by the occupying Power that created an obstacle to the peace process or threatened the possibility of neighbourly coexistence in the region. HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the controversial decision of the Israeli Government to build new settlements in defiance of Palestinian sentiments could only be seen as a provocative act. It was not the first time that the Israeli Government had pursued its own narrow political and strategic objectives. He strongly condemned the latest Israeli measure and called on them to rescind their decision and desist from taking any such unilateral actions in the future. The Council should pronounce itself in clear and unambiguous language on the issue and denounce the Israeli decision forcefully through a strongly worded resolution.
By relentlessly pursuing its settlement policy, Israel intended to create a fait accompli and show its arrogant "take or leave it" attitude towards the peace process, he continued. The recent statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming absolute sovereignty over all Jerusalem typified the uncompromising and brazen attitude of the present Israeli leadership. In the current delicate situation, statesmanship would have been more appropriate. It raised the question of Israel's real commitment to peace. A partnership would not endure if one of the partners acted irresponsibly and trampled underfoot those things that were held dear by the other party.
JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) expressed concern about the decision by the Israeli authorities to construct settlements in the area of Jabal Abu Ghneim, with the aim of establishing a ring of settlements around Jerusalem. It was a continuation of an illegal settlement policy the Israelis had pursued
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and which was in violation of international law. Israel also insisted on the keeping the tunnel at the Al-Aqsa Mosque open in disregard of the Council resolution on the issue. Stressing the importance of the city of Al-Quds, he said by its continued occupation of the city, Israel intended to impose a fait accompli on the final status negotiations. Any pretext to justify its measures would not prevent the international community from calling for a reversal of its actions. It was also important to note that the settlements would be built on expropriated land. It was unacceptable to justify an action by saying that the Arabs would also benefit. It was an unjust measure. The Council should adopt a clear condition on the Israeli action, he said. It should demand that Israel reverse its recent decision to build more settlements, as it was an obstacle to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. The Israeli Government's action directly and adversely affected peace in the Middle East. It was inexplicable to call on the Palestinian side to show restraint in the face of Israel's action, while Israel had not shown restraint. Therefore, it was imperative to call on Israel to stop the construction of any settlements. AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) said his Government strongly condemned all the recent actions taken by Israel that constituted blatant violations of the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, the 1993 Declaration of Principles and the subsequent agreements. Israeli action regarding settlements in East Jerusalem was aimed at altering the city's legal status and its demographic composition. It was illegal and invalid. Provocative Israeli actions had once again shattered the hopes that the peace process would lead to Palestinian self-determination through the establishment of an independent homeland.
Pakistan's support for the just struggle for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people was well known, he continued. It was imperative that the peace process should not collapse. The Israeli Government should concede to the realities on the ground and resolve all pending issues with the Palestinian National Authority, including the immediate reversal of their alarming actions. The Council should uphold the just position taken by the Palestinians on the issue of Jerusalem, which was based on international law and justice. The Council had the responsibility to call on the Israeli authorities to immediately end its unjust actions and desist from taking similar measures in the future. It should be conscious of the danger inherent in allowing the prevailing resentment to fester.
JAN BERTELING (Netherlands), on behalf of the European Union and the associated countries of Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Latvia and Liechtenstein, said the negotiations on Hebron had been laborious, but their success had offered hope to a renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian partnership for peace. However, the decision of the Israeli Government to approve housing construction for
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Jabal Abu Ghneim/Har Homa posed a threat to such positive developments. The European Union reaffirmed the status of Jerusalem, notably the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. Therefore, East Jerusalem was not under Israeli sovereignty. He said the statement by the Israeli Prime Minister that the new construction initiative would entail the building of new housing for Arab residents did not change the European Union rejection of the decision on Har Homa. The building of houses for the Palestinian population of the city since 1967 had remained far behind housing projects for the Jewish population. The Palestinians of East Jerusalem continued to be subject to several unacceptable restrictions. He called upon all parties to observe restraint regarding issues that could prejudge the outcome of the final status negotiations. He called upon Israel to respect its obligations under international law and appealed to them to refrain from building the new settlement.
SALIM BIN MOHAMMED AL-KHUSSAIBY (Oman) said his country had spared no effort in supporting the peace process, but that process was now once again threatened. While some statements by the Israeli Government might be seen as encouraging peace, the acts of those authorities were shocking. The settlement policies were a violation of Council resolutions. All measures taken by the Israelis to change the demographic status of Jerusalem were illegal. Such action by the Israelis created a volatile situation. A united response by the Council was necessary to reaffirm the land-for-peace principle, he said. Israeli settlement policy should be rejected categorically. It was time for the current Israeli Government to live up to its commitment and place the peace process back on the right track. It was time to demonstrate their true commitment to peace. It was also time for the Council to send a strong message to the Israeli Government.
DAVID KARSGAARD (Canada) said the construction of a lasting peace required that all parties refrain from unilateral actions that would prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations. The recent decision by the Israeli Government on settlement construction undermined the trust that was the very foundation of the peace process. While he acknowledged the stated commitment of the Government to issue new building permits for Arabs in East Jerusalem, it did not justify the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied territories, nor lessen its impact on the peace process. Settlement activity was a violation of international law and harmful to the peace process. The Israeli Government should reconsider its decision to resume settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and refrain from building housing for Israelis in Har Homa. The meeting suspended at 1:15 p.m.
The meeting was resumed at 3:22 p.m.
AHMED SNOUSSI (Morocco) said once again the Council was faced with a
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negative decision by the Israeli Government, this time to establish a settlement in Al-Quds, in direct violation of international law. The status of East Jerusalem was the same as that of the West Bank, namely, that of an occupied territory. It was a deliberate attempt by Israel to call into question the peace agreements reached thus far. The Israeli decision must be seen as a new defiance of the international community. Steps must be taken by the international community to compel the Israeli authorities to rescind the settlement decision. He reminded the Israeli authorities of the difficult and giant steps that had been taken by many Arab countries in support of the peace process. Those same Arab countries now saw the recent Israeli action as an act of bad faith, he said. Miracles were needed to return to the path of peace. The doubts now in the minds of Arabs regarding the peace process were a serious threat. The international community was calling on Israel to recognize and honour its commitments.
PEDRO NUÑEZ-MOSQUERA (Cuba) said the Council had met on 27 September 1996 and, at that time, had called on Israel to avoid any acts that would jeopardize the peace process. The current meeting demonstrated the obstacles Israel continued to place in the path of the process. The Council must take a firm stand against the challenge. It must demand that Israel put an end to the illegal settlement activities. He reiterated his country's firm commitment to the return of all occupied Arab territories
ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said a just and comprehensive peace should be the goal of all nations in the Middle East. The decision of the Government of Israel to build a new settlement in East Jerusalem, following similar and related actions, was part of a deliberate Israeli policy to isolate, Judaize and change the legal status of Al-Quds. Israel had continued to disregard the will of the international community. The Council must shoulder its responsibility and demand that Israel rescind any act that attempted to alter the status of Al-Quds. Specific and concrete measures were necessary. The Council should strengthen its credibility by demanding implementation of its own resolutions in the Middle East.
NASSER BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA (Qatar) said once again an extremely grave situation seriously endangered the Middle East peace process. The Israeli Government's decision to establish a new settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim was a new development in a disturbing pattern of decisions and actions aimed at imposing a fait accompli prior to the opening of final status negotiations this month. It was another step in implementing a premeditated policy of creeping annexation of Arab lands. He expressed outrage and dismay at the recent arrogant move by which Israel undermined the basic principle of land for peace agreed on at the 1991 Madrid Conference.
Condemning the Israeli decision, he said Israel's reckless move had highlighted its lack of commitment to the peace process and threatened to
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reverse all the efforts to that end. It was the responsibility of the international community and of the co-sponsors of the peace process to ensure that Israel complied with all its commitments. The present debate in the Council should send a clear message to the Israeli Government that its persistent policy of building settlements and delaying implementation of existing agreements were categorically unacceptable. The Council should take the necessary action to ensure that no settlement activities would be implemented in the occupied Arab territories, including the holy city of Jerusalem, and to salvage the peace process.
FERNANDO ENRIQUE PETRELLA (Argentina) said the peace process called for the parties to have an understanding that would facilitate the progress of the process. The Israeli Government must take into account the consequences of its action for the process. Much progress had been made. Therefore, the international community's commitment should not waver, but grow stronger. The Israeli Government should not hamper the results of negotiations on the definitive status of that historically important city. He stressed the importance of the climate of understanding that was necessary in the cause of peace.
HENRIQUE R. VALLE (Brazil) said the Middle East peace process was a confidence-building process. Parties to it should refrain from any action or measure that would lead to mistrust and to a gradual erosion of a carefully and laboriously designed process. It was, therefore, with concern and apprehension that the international community had witnessed the decision to initiate new settlement activities in East Jerusalem.
The parties involved in the peace process should resume immediately the good track of dialogue and compromise on the basis of agreements already reached, he said. They should observe their legal obligations and responsibilities under universally accepted international instruments. Only through the renewal of mutual trust among the parties would it be possible to strive for durable peace in the region.
AHMET ENGIN ANSAY, Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said he wished he had taken the floor under better -- instead of what had become "bitter" -- circumstances. The Organization of the Islamic Conference had joined forces with the international community in supporting the Middle East peace process, despite some elements contained in relevant agreements that adversely affected Palestinian interests. The organization was beginning to feel hopeful about the future of the peace process because of the achievements to date. Unfortunately, the hopes had been shattered by the unfortunate turn of events in Palestine, the responsibility for which must lie with Israel alone.
The Israeli decision to build a new settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim in East Jerusalem constituted the latest attempt by Israel at pre-empting the
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outcome of the negotiations on the final status by changing the legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem, he continued. In the spirit of solidarity with the Middle East peace process, the Organization of the Islamic Conference condemned the decision, as it had condemned the opening of the tunnel under the esplanade of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. A comprehensive and lasting peace in the region could not be achieved without the full implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), which emphasized that Jerusalem was part and parcel of the occupied territories.
He said the Council should take the necessary measures to end Israeli expansionist settlement policies in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, including Jerusalem, and that it consider all those Israeli policies and practices as a violation of all relevant United Nations resolutions and international agreements. The international community should also persuade Israel to lift the siege around Jerusalem. As soon as the necessary measures to restore peace and security in the area had been undertaken, the organization and its 54 member States would reinforce their wholehearted support of the peace process.
ANDELFO GARCIA (Colombia) said that despite progress in recent years the road to peace remained a matter of great concern. That process was at a critical juncture. The recent Hebron agreement had raised hopes, but the latest Israeli decision to build new settlements in the occupied territories constituted a threat to the peace process. Such a decision could be seen as a desire to prejudge final status negotiations. The heads of State of the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement had reiterated their support of the rights of the Palestinian people and had called for scrupulous observance of the relevant Council resolutions. The two co-sponsors of the peace process should demand that Israel desist from any action that would change the legal or demographic status of the holy city of Jerusalem.
FELIPE H. MABILANGAN (Philippines) said he was deeply concerned about the Israeli Government's decision to proceed with construction in the eastern part of Jerusalem -- Al-Quds. The action was not in conformity with the spirit of dialogue and reconciliation that had otherwise characterized the tenor of relations between the Governments of Israel and Palestine as they engaged in the Middle East peace process. There was no room for unilateral action regarding the administration and development of the holy city of Jerusalem.
He joined the Secretary-General and the global community, which had spoken with unanimity in the present debate in the interest of peace for all peoples in the region. He reiterated his unwavering support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, as expressed in consistent voting in favour of all resolutions pertaining to Palestine in the General Assembly. He called for the implementation of the Council's resolutions on the Middle East and for the successful conclusion of the peace process.
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Although the path to peace might be arduous, the process should move forward.
VICTOR PACE (Malta) said the issue under consideration touched the very nerve of a process that had taken root in recent years. It threatened to undermine the arduous path to peace. Any actions that contravened the very spirit on which the peace process had been founded must be strongly deplored. The recent Israeli decision regarding Jabal Abu Ghneim/Har Homa had immediate consequences and would have long-lasting repercussions on the ability to achieve a just and long-lasting peace in the region.
He called on Israel to rescind its decision. Any change in Jerusalem prejudged the final status negotiations and could lead to a reversal of the peace process. He also called on the leaders in that region and beyond for a recommitment to the objectives of peace.
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