GENERAL ASSEMBLY EMERGENCY SESSION ON OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES CALLS FOR HALT TO VIOLENCE, ‘MITCHELL REPORT’ IMPLEMENTATION

20 December 2001
GA/10003

GENERAL ASSEMBLY EMERGENCY SESSION ON OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES CALLS FOR HALT TO VIOLENCE, ‘MITCHELL REPORT’ IMPLEMENTATION

20/12/2001
Press ReleaseGA/10003

General Assembly Plenary

Tenth Emergency Special Session

15th Meeting (PM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY EMERGENCY SESSION ON OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

CALLS FOR HALT TO VIOLENCE, ‘MITCHELL REPORT’ IMPLEMENTATION

Also Reiterates Applicability of 1949 Geneva Convention to Territories

The resumed tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly this afternoon, meeting to consider illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, demanded the immediate cessation of all acts of violence, provocation and destruction, as well as the return to the positions and arrangements that existed prior to September 2000.

Through adoption of a resolution by a recorded vote of 124 in favor to 6 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Tuvalu, United States), with 25 abstentions, the Assembly also condemned all acts of terror, in particular those targeting civilians, as well as all acts of extrajudiciary executions, excessive use of force and wide destruction of properties.  (For details of the vote see Annex I.)

The Assembly, adopting a text essentially the same as the draft resolution rejected by the Security Council last Friday because of the negative vote of the United States, also called on the two sides to start the comprehensive and immediate implementation of the recommendations made in the report of the Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee (Mitchell report) in a speedy manner, and encouraged all concerned to establish a monitoring mechanism to help the parties implement those recommendations.

Adopting a second resolution by a recorded vote of 133 in favor to 4 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 16 abstentions, the Assembly, reiterating the applicability of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to the occupied Palestinian territory, expressed full support for the declaration adopted by the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, convened on 5 December in Geneva, Switzerland (Annex II).

During the debate prior to action on the texts, the Permanent Observer for Palestine told the Assembly that the current Israeli Government had adopted policies undermining peace efforts in the Middle East from the first day it came to power.  Once Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, had succeeded in burying the recommendations of the Mitchell report, he came up with a new declaration about the need for the Palestinian Authority to first combat and end terrorism.  Meanwhile, Israel continued to assault the Authority and its institutions, keeping them from functioning.

15th Meeting (PM)

He said the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land had remained the main predicament and origin of all disasters.  The only solution was ending that occupation and realizing the rights of the Palestinian people, including the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

Israel's representative said the Palestinian Authority had failed to take the necessary steps to end the violence and terrorism.  Key terrorist figures were still at large, incitement still poured forth from Palestinian leaders, illegal weapons had not been confiscated, and basic commitments to dismantle the infrastructure of such terrorist organizations as Hamas and Islamic Jihad remained unfulfilled.

He said the tired notion of occupation as the root of the conflict was revived every time the Palestinians needed to avoid taking responsibility for the hatred and terrorism they had fostered.  Palestinian terrorism was a menace that was only growing stronger.  This year alone, there had been 27 Palestinian suicide attacks against Israel.  Hundreds had been killed, thousands had been injured and nothing had been accomplished, either for the Palestinians or Israelis.

The representative of Egypt introduced the draft resolutions.  The session was called for at the request of Egypt, on behalf of the League of Arab States, and South Africa, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The representatives of South Africa, Senegal, Chile, United Republic of Tanzania, Iran, Qatar, Norway, Cuba, United States, Russian Federation, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Canada, China, Japan, Maldives, Brazil and Bangladesh also spoke, as did the Permanent Observer of Switzerland.

The representatives of Turkey, Australia, Pakistan and Paraguay spoke in explanation of vote.

The Assembly was informed that Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Niger, Republic of Moldova, Sao Tome and Principe, Somali, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were in arrears under the terms of Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations.  [Article 19 stipulates that a Member of the United Nations in arrears in payment of its financial contributions shall have no vote in the Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years.]

The regular session of the Assembly will meet at 10 a.m. Friday, 21 December, to consider the reports of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), multilingualism, and the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Background

The General Assembly this afternoon resumed its tenth emergency special session to consider "Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory".  The emergency special session was resumed following receipt of a letter by the President of the General Assembly, dated 18 December, from the Permanent Representative of Egypt in his capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group and on behalf of the League of Arab States, requesting its resumption (document A/ES-10/130).  Also before the Assembly was a letter from the Permanent Representative of South Africa, writing in his capacity as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, requesting for a resumption of the special session as soon as possible because of the deteriorating situation in the Middle East (document A/ES-10/131). 

Earlier meetings of the Assembly in its tenth emergency special session on this issue took place in 1997 (when the Assembly met in special session on the issue twice), in 1998, in 1999 and in 2000.  At those meetings, it adopted six resolutions on "Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory". 

Among the terms of those resolutions were a call for the cessation of all assistance and support for illegal Israeli activities, a reaffirmation that Israeli settlements in territories occupied since 1967 were illegal and an obstacle to peace, and a reaffirmation that all Israeli measures that altered or purported to alter the character, legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem were null and void.  Among other terms in those resolutions were a demand that Israel accepts the de jure applicability of the 1949 Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians in Time of War to all the territories occupied since 1967, and that it complies with relevant Security Council resolutions.  Resolution ES-10/6 condemned the violence that had taken place since 28 September 2000 at Al-Haram al-Sharif and other holy places in Jerusalem, as well as in other areas of the occupied Palestinian territory, demanded immediate cessation of violence and the use of force and strongly supported the establishment of a mechanism of inquiry into the events.

The Assembly had a two-part draft resolution before it (document A/ES-10/L.7) sponsored by Egypt South Africa and Palestine.  By part A, it would demand the immediate cessation of all acts of violence, provocation and destruction, as well as the return to the positions and arrangements that existed prior to September 2000, and would condemn all acts of terror, in particular those targeting civilians, as well as all acts of extrajudiciary executions, excessive use of force and wide destruction of properties.

The Assembly would also call on the two sides to start the comprehensive and immediate implementation of the recommendations made in the report of the Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee (Mitchell report) in a speedy manner, and encourage all concerned to establish a monitoring mechanism to help the parties implement those recommendations and to help create a better situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Further to the text, the Assembly would call for the resumption of negotiations between the two sides within the Middle East peace process on its agreed basis, and urge them to reach a final agreement on all issues, on the basis of their previous agreements, with the objective of implementing its resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

By the terms of part B, the Assembly, reiterating the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, would express its full support for the declaration adopted by the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, convened on 5 December at Geneva.

The Assembly would call upon all Members and observers of the United Nations, as well as the Organization and its agencies, to observe the above-mentioned declaration.

Statements

HAN SEUNG-SOO (Republic of Korea), the Assembly’s President, said one of the most urgent and daunting tasks before the United Nations was bringing lasting peace in the Middle East.  The international community needed to address the problem in a collective manner.  Despite appeals from the international community, the situation in the region had become more aggravated day by day.  It was incumbent on the Organization to do the utmost to bring about a cessation of the daily bloodshed.

Failure to implement signed agreements and steady degradation on the ground had led to violence in late September 2000, and the Assembly had convened its resumed Tenth Emergency Session in October last year.  Unfortunately, despite that session, there had been a spiral of violence.  The lesson was that there was no alternative to the process of Israeli-Palestinian political negotiations based on the principle of mutual respect and understanding of each other’s needs and interests.  He urged both parties to return to dialogue and negotiations.  He called upon the international community to help to resume and normalize the peace process.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt), introducing the draft resolution (document A/ES-10/L.7) in his capacity as Chairman of the League of Arab States, said the draft had two parts and would be voted upon as such.  Regarding part A, the text was identical to the draft that the Security Council had failed to adopt recently, because of a veto from one of the permanent members, despite a majority in favour of the draft.  The text was balanced and moderate.  Part B was basically the result of the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on 5 December in Geneva. 

He announced that Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Cuba, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Kuwait had joined as co-sponsors of the draft.

He said the way to contain the crisis was well known:  full implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell report.  The military occupation by Israel of the Palestinian territories was the context of the current crisis.  Israel was an occupying Power in the Palestinian territories, and that occupation should come to an end as soon as possible.  Using excessive violence against the Palestinian people would not help Israel realize security and peace.  The applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention was beyond any doubt.  Both parties had obligations that must be fulfilled.  Pressure on the weaker party was unacceptable.

What was required today was that all Powers who had influence should intervene in a balanced way towards implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell report, he continued.  All could contribute in reaching a just settlement that would:  end the armed occupation and other forms of Israeli presence in the territories; bring forth a viable Palestinian State; and conclude a legally binding means to realize peace and security for both parties.

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine, said the abnormal situation in the Security Council, when it came to the question of Palestine, must end.  Preventing the Council from fulfilling its responsibilities on that question could not continue.  There was, then, a problem, a huge problem, that negatively affected the situation in the Middle East -- the credibility of the Council and its ability to move effectively in different places.  The important question was whether it was being used by some when it suited them, or whether it was representative of all members of the international community, and was actually responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The current Israeli Government had adopted policies undermining peace efforts in the Middle East from the first day it came to power, he said. Mr. Sharon had declared on more than one occasion that he did not want to reach a final settlement and only wanted an agreement to end belligerency.  He had also repeatedly declared his animosity towards the Mitchell Committee and later to its recommendations.  Once he had succeeded in burying those recommendations, he came up with a new declaration about the need for the Palestinian Authority to first combat and end terrorism.  Meanwhile, Israel would continue to assault the Authority and its institutions, keeping them from functioning.  Finally, Mr. Sharon announced that Israel would boycott the Palestinian Authority, which meant abandoning the negotiation process.

The occupying forces had committed deliberate killings and Israel, the occupying Power, had adopted extrajudicial executions as an official policy, he continued.  It had also caused widespread destruction of individual and public properties, including economic institutions, the uprooting of thousands of trees and the razing of agricultural lands.  All of those acts were grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The Israeli occupation of Palestinian land had remained the main predicament and origin of all disasters.  The only solution was ending that occupation and realizing the rights of the Palestinian people, including the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.  That, as well as the coexistence of the two States, Palestine and Israel, would bring security, stability and peace for both sides and for the region.

DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa), speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, said his group was before the Assembly because the Security Council, whose responsibility it was to maintain international peace and security, had once again failed the people of Palestine.  The Council’s failure to pass the draft resolution last Friday had once again left the Palestinians with no option but to seek an urgent meeting of the Assembly, which had the responsibility to deal with the Palestinian issue –- one that had been on its agenda for more than 50 years.  The Middle East situation was critical and the international community had to take action.  He hoped that the overwhelming support for the resolutions now before the Assembly would send a message of support for the peace process in the Middle East.

He said the Non-Aligned Movement was reiterating its commitment to working towards a negotiated settlement.  Making that a reality, one in which both sides shared a common vision, was, however, a challenge.  When the Council’s draft resolution was vetoed on 14 December, yet another opportunity to encourage the parties in the Middle East to return to the negotiating table was lost.  He underlined his delegation’s concern that the veto might be misconstrued by those opposed to peace, and others who were fomenting violence.  It had become extremely urgent for the Council to consider establishing a monitoring mechanism to help the parties implement the recommendations of the Mitchell report.  Such a mechanism would also provide the Council with an independent assessment of the situation on the ground.

On 5 December, he said, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 called upon the occupying Power to fully and effectively respect the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and to refrain from perpetrating any violations of the instrument.  They also reaffirmed the illegality of the settlements in the said territory and their expansion.  The High Contracting Parties recalled the need to safeguard and guarantee the rights and access of all inhabitants to the holy places.  He urged the Assembly to endorse the recent declaration made by the High Contracting Parties.  In conclusion, he reiterated a longstanding principled position of the Non-Aligned Movement by calling for the creation of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.  The Movement believed that the achievement of statehood would go a long way towards meeting the aspirations of the Palestinian people and bringing about a lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. 

PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said for 14 months the situation had been explosive, the peace process stymied and the future dark.  The suffering imposed on the civilian population was reaching a dramatic threshold.  In retaliation for massacres carried out in Haifa and Jerusalem, which the Committee had condemned, Israel had carried out murderous attacks against the Palestinian territory.  As a result, the Palestinian Authority had been nearly destroyed at a time when the Israeli Government had insisted that the Palestinian Authority crack down on terrorists.

The occupying Power was using the tense situation after 11 September, he continued.  Certain high Israeli officials had added fuel to the fire by daily making aggressive moves and demonizing the Palestinian Authority and its President, despite denunciations he had given on extremist elements.  The excessive violence might broaden the intifada.  Frustrations were mounting and rage was flaming all over the occupied territories.  The United Nations had no option but to act, to put an end to the confrontation and preserve the peace process.

While evenhandedly condemning any acts of terror or violence against civilians, he said the Committee had been striving to make the international community sensitive to the need to end the violence and return to the negotiating table.  Following the American momentum for peace initiated by President Bush, the Committee called on all parties to rise above the cycle of confrontation.  The good intentions had to be translated into action, such as:  immediate and unconditional withdrawal by Israeli military forces from the territories and establishment of an observation force; resumption of peace negotiations on the basis of the recommendations of the Mitchell report and the Tenet plan; and conclusion of an overall fair and lasting settlement on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land for peace.

CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, recalled the 14 November Declaration of Rio Group Foreign Ministers.  He reaffirmed support for the relevant Security Council resolutions establishing the legal framework for the resolution of the Middle East conflict, which recognized the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to establish a State and the right of Israel to exist in a safe environment within secure and internationally recognized borders.  The President of the Palestinian Authority played an essential role in that resolution.

He said the suspension of the Oslo peace process had given rise to the escalating cycle of violence, reprisals and excessive use of force, in contravention to the principles of all civilization and violating all human rights and humanitarian law, especially in relation to innocent civilians.  The situation could not be allowed to continue.  All parties must cease all acts of terror and violence.  They must return to negotiations under the peace process by implementing the Mitchell plan.  Both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority must adopt constructive positions to promote dialogue over violence.  They must also avoid unilateral acts that reversed the peace process.

DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the situation in the Palestinian territories was more threatening than ever.  The recent tragic and violent events, coupled with the excessive use of force by the Israeli army, could not be allowed to continue unabated.  The use of deadly military force only fueled more violence, anger and resentment.  Peaceful negotiation was the only means of ensuring lasting peace, security and stability in the region.

He called for an immediate cessation of violence by both parties and resumption of peaceful negotiations on the basis of the recommendations of the Mitchell report.  The gains of Oslo needed to be preserved.  The statement by President Bush recognizing the right of Palestinians to a viable State was a significant development in an otherwise intractable situation.  Consequently, the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to an independent State required the expeditious and full implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).  He underscored the principle of land for peace as the only basis for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

He reiterated the support of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) for the right of the Palestinian people to receive immediate international protection against Israel aggression and the urgent need for Israel to respect all humanitarian laws as provided for by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.  Given the deteriorating situation on the ground, it was imperative that the consideration for deployment of a United Nations observer force be expedited, in addition to establishing a monitoring mechanism to help the parties implement the recommendations of the Mitchell report.

M.H. FADAIFARD (Iran) said Israel’s inhumane repression of the Palestinian people was outrageous, infuriating public opinion around the world.  It was further outrageous to witness some efforts, even though increasingly isolated, to shield the perpetrators of such horrendous crimes from the wrath of global opinion, and obstruct world bodies in fulfilling their duties regarding the atrocities being committed in the Palestinian occupied territory.

The most recent cycle of violence in the Palestinian occupied territories was a further cause of concern for the international community.  That was set in motion by the Israeli killing of five students on 22 November and the extrajudicial killing of Palestinians on the day after.  He believed that act of terror was intentionally devised and aimed to defeat the new round of international efforts addressing the grievances of the Palestinian people.  By holding the current General Assembly session, the membership of the United Nations was demonstrating its outrage at such illegal Israeli activities in the occupied territories.

Severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli regime on the movement of persons and goods in the occupied territories were still in place, he said.  Those restrictions amounted to imposing collective punishment on an entire population, severely damaging efforts by the Muslim people to provide emergency medical support to thousands of Palestinian injured.  Israeli actions and policies were undoubtedly the main source of instability and insecurity in the region.  They created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety among regional nations, as well as in the entire international community.

AARON JACOB (Israel) said that the cynicism of the Palestinian leadership knew no bounds. I n recent weeks, as the intensity of the Palestinian terrorist campaign against Israel had reached a feverish pitch, a resounding chorus of world leaders had called upon Chairman Arafat to end the violence and terror.  That was Arafat’s moment of truth, his opportunity to demonstrate to Israel and the world that he was not merely trying to appease his Western audience.  But, he once again headed down the road he had traveled countless times in the past, the road of duplicity and deceit and evasion.  In short, the road to nowhere.

The Palestinian Authority had failed to take the necessary steps to end the violence and terrorism, which were vital in resuming political negotiations, he continued.  Key terrorist figures were still at large, incitement still poured forth from Palestinian leaders and the official media, illegal weapons had not been confiscated and basic commitments to dismantle the infrastructure of such terrorist organizations as Hamas and Islamic Jihad remained unfulfilled.  Those terrorists that were arrested were released within a few hours or days.

He said the tired notion of occupation as the root of the conflict was revived every time the Palestinians needed to avoid taking responsibility for the hatred and terrorism they had fostered, or to deflect criticism for their failure to respond to Israel’s unprecedented offer at Camp David with anything other than bombs and gunfire.  Palestinian terrorism was a menace that was only growing stronger.  This year alone, there had been 27 Palestinian suicide attacks against Israel and nearly 3,000 attacks overall.  Hundreds had been killed, thousands had been injured and nothing had been accomplished, either for the Palestinians or Israelis.

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the Palestinian people and its Authority were the victim of a bloody military campaign carried out by the occupying Power.  The forces of occupation had used aircraft and helicopters to bomb security installations in the territories.  With armoured tanks, it had encroached on the land of the Palestinian Authority, imposed blockades and shown excessive use of force.  Attacks were directed against urban centres, producing many victims, including dozens of children.  The Palestinian population lived in a state of terror.  Extrajudicial executions had been carried out.

He said in parallel with the State terrorism of Israel, verbal insults were issued by high Israeli officials.  Prime Minister Sharon’s intention was to reduce the authority of the Palestinian Authority to nothing.  He tried to depict his terrorism as an anti-terror campaign.  Israel expected, at the same time, that the Authority assume its responsibilities for security.  Security operations carried out by Israel had sharpened the hatred.  In September, President Arafat had called for an end to military attacks on all sides and a resumption of dialogue.  Prime Minister Sharon had publicly declared he was against implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell report and against any reasonable plan to bring normalcy.

The international community must take urgent measures to contain the disaster, he said.  The United Nations, in particular the Security Council, must shoulder the responsibility to ensure peace and security.  United Nations resolution 181 of 1947 and Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) had established a basis for participation of the United Nations in a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.  Paralysis of the Security Council in that regard could not be accepted.  President Bush’s statement on the question of Palestine was extremely important.  Peace in the Middle East was in the interest of everyone, Jews and Arabs alike.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said he welcomed United States commitment to intensify its engagement in the Middle East peace process and strongly supported the efforts by the special envoys of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the Russian Federation.  He urged President Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to make a 100 per cent effort in fighting terrorism.  Known terrorists must be arrested and more must be done to prevent new attacks.  At the same time, he urged Israel to stop its military actions against the Palestinians and to show restraint.  Targeting the Palestinian police and administration seriously undermined the authority and the effectiveness of that administration, which would negatively affect security.

The recommendations of the Mitchell report and the Tenet ceasefire understandings were still the most relevant tools in deescalating the situation.  Their recommendations must be fully implemented without delay.  Implementation could be facilitated if the parties were provided with support in the form of a monitoring mechanism, should the parties agree to it.  He called on the parties to recognize the following objectives for the final status negotiations:  for the Palestinians, an end to the occupation of their territories and the establishment of a viable and democratic State; for the Israelis, the right to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.

He said the Palestinian economy was in a severe recession.  Norway remained committed to its role as chairman of the ad hoc liaison committee for assistance to the Palestinians.  The destinies of the Israelis and the Palestinians were inseparable.  Security for the Israelis depended on security for the Palestinians, and vice versa.  Peace could only be achieved through mutual compromise.  The parties must recognize that the path to peace would be hard and painful, but at the end of the road there would have to be an end to conflict.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said that the veto cast by the United States last week had prevented the Security Council from discharging its obligations.  Only a clear message condemning acts by Israel could put an end to war, so that negotiations could resume between that country and the Palestinian Authority.  A just and lasting peace could only be achieved by adopting the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.

The acts of Israel deserved to be energetically condemned by the international community, he said.  It must condemn State terrorism on the part of Israel, if it did indeed wish to carry out a global fight against terrorism wherever and whenever it was manifested.  He reiterated his support for the Palestinian people in searching for self-determination in the form of an independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital.  The people of the Middle East deserved and needed peace.  Only a just peace could be a lasting one.

JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) said all were agreed on the need for ending the violence and suffering of the Israeli and Palestinian people.  As the President of the United States had said, “we are working towards a day when two States, Israel and Palestine, live peacefully together”.  Tangible, realistic means were needed to reverse the current dangerous trend and pave the way towards real negotiations between the two parties.  Instead, resolutions such as the ones before the Assembly, and the one before the Council last week, had as their aim the political isolation of one party to the conflict by throwing political weight behind the other.  They failed to address the dynamic.

He said he would vote against the resolution for a number of reasons.  First, it called for a monitoring mechanism regardless of whether the parties had agreed to it.  The resolution also did not demand a cessation to the terrorism.  Chairman Arafat had issued such a call and the Secretary-General had stated that no cause justified terrorism.  Terrorists were also looking to brutally sabotage any potential for a negotiated peace and to undermine the Palestinian Authority in the process.  At the moment, the United States Secretary of State was in the Middle East with General Assembly Members, and European representatives, recommitting to implementation of the Mitchell recommendations by establishing a durable peace.  The engagement was direct and practical.  The United States representative to the Middle East would then continue pursuing the process.

As Palestinians assumed their responsibilities to confront terrorist groups, he said, Israel must do its part to ease the plight of the Palestinian people.  As the Palestinian Authority moved seriously on security, Israel must take steps on the ground to ease restrictions and consider very carefully the consequences of actions.  The proper role of the United Nations was to facilitate and strengthen agreements that Israel and the Palestinians reached with each other.  One-sided resolutions did not advance that goal.  Instead, the good will found in the United Nations must be channeled into encouraging both parties, directly on the ground, towards a course of coexistence and peace.  

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the situation in the Middle East must be eased.  Mr. Arafat must take tough steps against the terrorists, including by destroying their networks.  His call for action yesterday had signified the taking of definitive steps.  More such measures must be taken immediately to bring about a ceasefire and to immediately resume dialogue.

At the same that the attacks of the extremists must be stopped, however, there could be no settlement of the situation by force.  Israel’s Government must end incursions into Palestinian lands and it must stop using excessive force.  His country would do everything to help find a resolution and to stop the violence.  The resolution before the Assembly was balanced.  It called for implementation of the Mitchell plan.  He would vote for the resolution.

JAVIER SOLANA MADARIAGA (Belgium), Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, spoke on behalf of the European Union and associated States.  He said the European Union was concerned by the seriousness of the situation in the Middle East.  Putting an end to violence was the first priority.  Regarding the first part of the draft, he said heads of State of the European Union had examined the situation of the Middle East during the weekend and had concluded that peace had to be based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and full recognition of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent State and the right of Israel to exist within internationally recognized borders.  Heads of State had underscored that Israel needed a partner:  the Palestinian Authority.  He appealed to the Authority to prevent acts of terror.

He urged the Palestinian Authority to crack down on the terrorist networks, and to make a public appeal in the Arabic language to end the intifada.  From Israel, he demanded an end to the blockade, to extrajudiciary executions and to settlements.  That required resolute action by the Palestinian Authority and Israel.  The European Union was convinced that implementation of the Tenet plan and the recommendations of the Mitchell report were the basis for a political dialogue.  Establishment of an impartial observation mechanism would be in the interest of both parties.

Regarding the second part of the draft, he said he was gratified by the convening of the Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention recently.  The Convention was a valuable instrument for ensuring that civilians were protected at all times.  The European Union believed that the provisions of the Convention applied to the situation.  It believed it was necessary not only to reaffirm the universality of the Convention, but also to launch an appeal to the parties to cease any attacks on civilian populations.  Resolute concerted action by influential countries was indispensable.  The European Union would pursue its efforts to enable two States, Israel and Palestine, to live in peace side by side.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) recalled the damage caused by the violence in the Middle East.  He said the tragedy of such suffering was all the greater since the long-term aims of both the Palestinians and the Israelis were the same.  Both needed to live in peace and security in their own State.  All acts of violence, all provocation and all use of excessive force must cease.  Vigorous action must be taken against terrorists.  Terrorism caused inestimable harm to the aims of the Palestinians by undermining the very belief of all people on both sides that security could be established.

He said the Geneva meeting of the High Contracting Parties had failed to take into consideration that violence must be brought to a stop and that the Palestinian people’s situation must be improved.  Today’s resolution left the same concerns.  He supported Israel’s need for security and its right to defend itself.  Yet, the excessive use of force and the lack of political engagement on Israel’s part undermined the peace structure and destroyed credibility.  The resolution was right to call for implementation of the Mitchell report recommendation as the immediate next step.  It was important to remember that both sides deserved representation by their chosen leader.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) said that recent violence in the Middle East had been escalating, causing enormous casualties and losses and drawing the attention of the international community.  The Security Council should take effective measures to fulfil its responsibilities, including the deployment of international observers and monitors in the region.  Regrettably, the draft resolution on that issue had once again been vetoed in the Council.

At the core of the Middle East issue lay Palestine, he said.  Resolving that issue meant restoring the rights of the Palestinian people.  The past and present history of the Middle East had demonstrated that violence and military retaliation could only deepen hatred in the region.  Dialogue and negotiation were the only right paths to peace.

He hoped earlier agreements would be implemented and negotiations resumed, and that a just and comprehensive solution would be found on the basis of Council resolutions.  Mr. Arafat enjoyed high prestige among the Palestinian people, and his leadership was indispensable to the peace process.  Under difficult circumstances, he said, the Palestinian side had taken every step to curb the action of extremists.

YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said his country had consistently supported the Palestinian people's right to self-determination, including their right to an independent State, and had also supported Israel's right to live in peace within secure and recognized borders.  Achieving both objectives was by no means easy, but since the 1990s concerned countries had made efforts to make them compatible.  The Oslo process was a case in point.

He said the Government of Japan was, therefore, all the more worried that the vicious cycle of violence taking place in the region for more than a year, particularly the recent confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, might lead to the collapse of the Oslo process.  For that reason, Japan had repeatedly called upon all parties concerned to end the violence immediately and resume dialogue.

Japan sincerely hoped the day would soon come when two States, Israel and Palestine, could live together peacefully within secure and recognized borders.  But no progress towards Middle East peace could be expected unless Israel and the Palestinian Authority ended the use of violence and made serious efforts to resume negotiations.  Both parties must redouble their efforts to attain a lasting peace based on harmony and cooperation.

HUSSAIN SHIHAB (Maldives) said he would circulate a written text of his statement.

ENIO CORDEIRO (Brazil) recalled his President’s opening statement in the Assembly’s general debate late month, when he had called for the setting up of a Palestinian State, just as Israel had once been set up.  It was a moral debt that the United Nations owed.  It was a task that must not be postponed.

Condemning the violent terrorist action that had taken place recently, he deplored in the same way the attacks by Israeli forces against civilian targets.  He said reconciliation must be achieved through the mechanisms for peaceful resolution of disputes accepted by the international community and available in the Charter, namely dialogue, respect for agreements already made and respect for relevant resolutions.  The Palestinian Authority played an essential role.  He supported the declaration adopted by the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Convention on 5 December in Switzerland.

He said his Government was following the situation at the highest level.  Brazil would contribute in any way it could to establish an environment of political freedom and of peace and stability in the Middle East, so that all people could concentrate on prosperity and development.  The United Nations was the fundamental instrument for that.  All parties must exert all efforts to bring about a cessation of the spiral of violence.  No extreme action of any nature should be allowed to prevent resumption of the peace process.  The international community had a responsibility to help find a solution to the tragic conflict. 

IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the centrality of the issue of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories must be recognized and addressed.  The practice of building settlements had been most counter-productive and must cease forthwith.  Excessive and disproportionate use of military force by the occupying Power must also end.  Actions along those lines would surely induce a positive response.  In addition, implementation of the recommendations contained in the Mitchell report would form the basis for jump-starting the peace process.  Other efforts being initiated in that regard, by the United States for example, also deserved full support, he added.

He said the final resolution to the Middle East issue must realize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people for a State of their own, with Jerusalem as its capital.  In the meantime, every effort must be made to strengthen the Palestinian Authority's capacity to act as a partner for peace.  Any action undermining that would have negative consequences.  Insisting on preconditions for the resumption of negotiations would only delay the peace process.  He therefore called on all concerned to push for resumption of the dialogue immediately without any preconditions.

He said the drafts before the Assembly summed up the concerns and aspirations of the global community at this point in time.  His delegation would, therefore, support them. The question now was, what else could the global community do?  Could there be a methodology or a mechanism, through which -- and under the auspices of the Secretary-General, in the company of the heads of United Nations organs -- the leaders of Israel and Palestine could meet in continuous proximity talks until they were able walk away with results?  While that was neither a proposal nor a suggestion, it was surely an idea whose time had surely come.

JENO C.A. STAEHELIN, Permanent Observer for Switzerland, said on 5 December, 115 Member States in Geneva had reaffirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.  The Member States also restated the need to fully respect the provisions of that Convention on that territory.  The follow-up to the declaration would have to be the application of international humanitarian law.  Respect for that law was a sine qua non condition to break out of the logic of blind violence and status quo, in order to revert to a political dialogue leading to a fair and lasting peace.

Endorsing the recommendations of the 5 December declaration, his country underscored the need to make sure the declaration was implemented.  Initiatives of the States parties must be designed to guarantee implementation of international humanitarian law.  The conference had been held to send a clear signal for respect for humanitarian law.  The humanitarian situation in the region had deteriorated seriously.  Universal rules were flaunted.  Existing mechanisms to protect victims of violations were not doing what they should.

The conference had not been intended as a courtroom, but a grouping of States parties to discharge of their responsibilities towards the vital interest of the victims of numerous violations.  The question was about the possibility of recourse to legal mechanism for victims.  There was a role for the international community as a whole.  He hoped, in the interest of the victims of violations, that a consensus would emerge in order to provide a truly humanitarian rule-based solution to the serious problems of today in the Middle East.

Action on Draft Resolution

The Assembly was informed that Part A should be document A/ES-10/L.7 and Part B should be A/ES-10/L.8.

Speaking before the vote, UMIT PAMIR (Turkey), explained his delegation's intention to vote in favour of the draft resolution and aligned himself with the European Union's position.  However, given Turkey's unique position in the region, it was necessary to explain the main concerns behind the positive vote.

Continuing the cycle of violence might lead to the loss of control with unforeseen repercussions, he warned.  Turkey strongly condemned the recent heinous attacks against Israeli civilians, which could not be justified under any pretext.  At the same time, it had become obvious that the problem could not be solved through the excessive use of force, nor through siege and economic blockade.  He stressed that only through the resumption of peace talks could a lasting and comprehensive agreement be reached that would enable Israel and Palestine to live side-by-side within mutually recognized borders.  Both parties must refrain from radical steps that could exacerbate the already tense situation.

Noting that contacts between the Israelis and Palestinians had not been totally interrupted, he welcomed the meeting between security officials from both sides.  Underlining that anti-terrorism measures by both parties must be complementary, rather than contradictory, he said the efficient functioning of the Israeli-Palestinian Security Committee was of great importance.

The Assembly was informed that Bahrain and Oman had joined as co-sponsors of the two draft resolution

In a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 6 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Tuvalu, United States), with 25 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution on Israeli practices (document A/ES-10/L.7).

In a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 16 abstentions, the Assembly then adopted the draft resolution concerning the applicability of the Geneva Convention (document A/ES-10/L.8).

Speaking after the vote, Mr. BLAZEY (Australia) said, with regard to the second draft, that he attached great importance to the Geneva Convention, but he had not participated in the meeting of the High Contracting Parties, because such a meeting would not be helping the Palestinian people, nor would it be ending the violence.  He had abstained from voting on the resolution for the same reason.

SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said neither of the two resolutions just voted upon had the force to get people to adhere to their agreements, so that they would settle the questions between them by dialogue.  The Secretary-General had called for meaningful dialogue, which was the only way to achieve peace in the region.  Progress had been made.  Now, it was now blocked by intransigence.  The international community must not allow the current state of affairs to continue and the United Nations could not stand by silently.  He had voted in favour of the resolutions as a vital step in stopping the violence and returning to negotiations.

Mr. LOIZAGA (Paraguay) said the texts had not achieved a fair balance.  The resolutions should have included elements to strengthen the will of parties to resume negotiations and continue their dialogue, to assure the success of the peace process.

Mr. AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, thanked the Assembly for its actions.

(annexes follow)

ANNEX I

Vote on Illegal Israeli Actions

The draft resolution on illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory (document A/ES-10/L.7) was adopted by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 6 against, with 25 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Tuvalu, United States.

Abstaining:  Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Iceland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Romania, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, United Kingdom, Vanuatu.

Absent:  Angola, Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Suriname, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan.

(END OF ANNEX I)

ANNEX II

Vote on Illegal Israeli Actions

The draft resolution on illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of occupied Palestinian territory (document A/ES-10/L.8) was adopted by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 4 against, with 16 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States.

Abstaining:  Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Guatemala, Nauru, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

Absent:  Angola, Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Monaco, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.