SECURITY COUNCIL FAILS TO ADOPT RESOLUTION ON MIDDLE EAST SITUATION, TO CONDEMN USE OF FORCE, ENCOURAGE MONITORING MECHANISM

14 December 2001
SC/7242

SECURITY COUNCIL FAILS TO ADOPT RESOLUTION ON MIDDLE EAST SITUATION, TO CONDEMN USE OF FORCE, ENCOURAGE MONITORING MECHANISM

14/12/2001
Press ReleaseSC/7242

Security Council

4438th Meeting (Night)

SECURITY COUNCIL FAILS TO ADOPT RESOLUTION ON MIDDLE EAST SITUATION,

TO CONDEMN USE OF FORCE, ENCOURAGE MONITORING MECHANISM

United States, Exercising Veto, Says Text Sought to Isolate

One Party, Failed to Mention Acts of Terrorism against Israel

As the Security Council considered the situation in the Middle East early this morning (Saturday 15 December), it 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 looked to 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 on the negative vote of the United States.

The representative of the United States 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 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 representative addressed the Council.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Mauritius, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Jamaica, Singapore, Russian Federation, China, Colombia, Bangladesh, Norway, South Africa (on behalf of the Non-Aligned States), Israel,

Cuba, Malaysia, Canada, Brazil, Iran, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), France, Ireland and Mali.

The Observer of Palestine and the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also spoke. 

The meeting, which began at 10:54 p.m., was adjourned at 2:00 a.m.

Background

The Security Council met late tonight to consider the situation in the Middle East.

The Council was responding to a letter dated 13 December from the representative of Egypt, in his capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group for December (document S/2001/191).  On behalf of the League of Arab States, he requested the convening of an immediate meeting of the Security Council to consider the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and take action in that regard.

The Council also had before it the following draft resolution (document S/2001/1199) sponsored by Egypt and Tunisia:

The Security Council,

Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, including resolution 1322 of 7 October 2000,

Emphasizing the need for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973 and the principle of land for peace,

Emphasizing further in that regard the essential role of the Palestinian Authority which remains the indispensable and legitimate party for peace and needs to be preserved fully,

Expressing its grave concern at the continuation of the tragic and violent events that have taken place since September 2000,

Expressing also its grave concern at the recent dangerous deterioration of the situation and its possible impact on the region,

Emphasizing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians in the whole Middle East region, and condemning in particular all acts of violence and terror resulting in the deaths and injuries among Palestinian and Israeli civilians,

Expressing its determination to contribute to ending the violence and to promoting dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian sides,

Reiterating the need for the two sides to comply with their obligations under the existing agreement,

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

“1.  Demands 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;

“2.  Condemns all acts of terror, in particular those targeting civilians;

“3.  Condemns all acts of extrajudiciary executions, excessive use of force and wide destruction of properties;

“4.  Calls 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;

“5.  Encourages all concerned to establish a monitoring mechanism to help the parties implement the recommendations of the Report of the

Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee (Mitchell Report) and to help create a better situation in the occupied Palestinian territories;

“6.  Calls for the resumption of negotiations between the two sides within the Middle East peace process on its agreed basis, taking into consideration developments in previous discussions between the two sides, and urges 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);

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

Statements

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.  It did not come as a total surprise.  Mr. Sharon had declared on more than one occasion that he did not want to reach a final settlement.  He had frequently declared his animosity towards the Palestinians and the Mitchell report.  Once he had succeeded in burying the recommendations, he came up with the need for the Palestinian Authority to combat and stop terrorism while at the same time destroying the Authority’s capacity to curb terrorism.  Some had tried to provide cover for the Israelis, thus encouraging the Israelis to continue their actions.

He said the Palestinians had expressed their readiness to pursue the peace process and the Israeli Government must stop doubting that.  They must also understand that any retreat from the peace process would bring suffering to all the people in the region.  The Palestinian Authority had taken a clear stand against terrorism and had joined the coalition against terrorism after 11 September.  It also condemned the terrorist attacks committed by suicide bombers against Israel.  But being able to put an end to terrorism was linked both to the capacity of the Palestinian security apparatus and to ending the aggression against the Palestinian people.  The Israeli authority had acted to prevent the Palestinian Authority from being able to function.  It had persisted in delivering the message that there was no hope for the success of the peace process.

Israeli settlers had come to colonize the land and the people, he said.  Over the years they had attacked and terrorized the Palestinian people.  They would remain illegal until they left with the end of the occupation of Palestinian land.  Israel used warplanes, helicopter ships and other instruments of war against the Palestinian people, causing significant losses and the spread of fear and terror among Palestinians.  Israeli forces had killed eight Palestinians today and yesterday they had killed seven, but not much had been heard about it.  Israeli occupation forces had killed 800 people and injured many more since September 2000.  It used extrajudiciary executions as a State policy.  That and other actions represented grave breaches of the Geneva Convention.

His government charged Ariel Sharon with the commission of war crimes against the Palestinian people.  He also charged Israel with committing State terrorism against the Palestinian people.  The responsibility of the international community and the Security Council was clear.  Many were waiting to see how the international community would deal with this disaster.  The only solution was the end of the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian State.  The attempt of the Council to take action was late, thus affecting its credibility and perhaps impacting its ability to take action in other areas.  Today it appeared that the Council would again be prevented from assuming its responsibility under the Charter due to the negative position of one of the permanent members.  Nevertheless, the Palestinians appreciated the attempt.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt), Chairman of the Arab Group, said the basic reason for the tension, violence, provocation and destruction was Israel’s military occupation.  As United States Secretary of State Colin Powell had said in September, it must come to an end.  The international community and Israel must understand that logic, and fully appreciate the truth.

He said 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.  Israel used different pretexts to avoid going back to political dialogue and the negotiating table.  It was therefore incumbent on the Council to implement recommendations that would represent a complete freeze on Israeli settlements.  Only that would open the way for a just and permanent settlement that would take the interests of both sides into consideration; establish an independent and viable Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital; achieve equal security for both Palestinians and Israelis; and secure good neighbourly relations between the two States.

He said targeting and killing civilians was deplorable and must be forcibly condemned.  Political assassinations, aerial bombardment the destruction of installations, blockades and economic suffocation were all acts that should be condemned with the same force.  The Council, which since the beginning of the crisis had been unable to provide a critical position, must enable both parties to control the situation.

He said the draft was a clear message and called on all countries to support it.  The Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention had drawn up a list of responsibilities for Israel, as the occupying force.  He believed that if those recommendations could be implemented, it would be a positive and qualitative step to protect the Palestinian people and lessen the tension and violence until a final settlement was reached. 

He said Israel’s talk of liquidating leaders and cutting contacts signified a desire to prolong the conflict and change the basic facts, if not to completely destroy all agreements as the prelude to a new phase.  That was a dangerous and serious gamble that could dash peace negotiations for peace in the years to come.  He called on members of the Council to show an understanding of what was needed to contain the volatile situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said the international community was witnessing an unprecedented deterioration of the situation since the Oslo agreements.  The Government of Ariel Sharon had undertaken a systematic policy of aggression against the Palestinian people by the repeated use force.  The path chosen by Prime Minister Sharon had undone what had been accomplished in the last 10 years.  Since his arrival to power, he had turned his back on peace and the peace process.  Worse, he had moved on to act II of his destructive enterprise to destroy everything about the Palestinian Authority.  Since the concept of the right of the Palestinians to a State had finally been recognized by the international community, Sharon had undertaken to do anything to keep such a State from coming into existence.  This was an urgent situation for the Council to take action on, to end the serious deterioration and avoid the explosion that would serve neither peace nor the parties concerned.

He said the occupation must end, and the appropriate way to end the misfortunes was through negotiations.  That was the only way that peace could be restored.  Both parties must pursue that path.  It was high time for the situation to change and for the Palestinian people to have their freedom and an independent State with al-Quds as their capital.  Support from the international community was required.  The eyes of the world were turned to the United Nations and the Security Council.  The Council could not ignore what was taking place in Palestine.  He appealed to the Council to act without delay.

JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said the Middle East crisis was now at a frightening and dangerous stage, with the Israeli Government announcing the severing of all ties with the Palestinian leadership.  To make matters worse, it had almost put the Palestinian leader under siege.  He said he totally rejected any attempt to sideline Chairman Yasser Arafat, who was still the only viable Palestinian interlocutor and partner for peace.  The rest of the world had reacted promptly to the decision announced by the Israeli Government.  “Let us make no mistake”, he added, “that any move to undermine Chairman Arafat will bring more chaos to the region and the resurgence and possible legitimization of militant extremist groups which have only contributed to derailing and undermining the peace process”.

The situation in the Middle East was ablaze and none of the protagonists seemed to be capable of putting out the fire.  It was therefore incumbent upon the United Nations to take the lead and a proactive approach in stemming the violence.  His country supported the draft resolution, which demanded the immediate cessation of all acts of violence; called for the implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell report; the resumption of negotiations between the two sides; and addressed the issue of the safety of Palestinian civilians. 

It was imperative that political leaders return without further delay and preconditions to the negotiating table and devise means for the unconditional recommendation of the Mitchell report.  That document, which had been accepted by both sides, remained the only viable option that could form the groundwork for the resumption of the peace process.

JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said violence would only result in more violence.  Both communities had seen too many funerals and both sides needed to think about where further violence would lead.  The only way was through negotiations and Tenet and Mitchell showed the way.  His Government was committed to a settlement that would provide security to Israel through recognized borders and the establishment of the Palestinian State.  Chairman Arafat was the elected official and the leader who would represent the Palestinian people.  It served no one’s interests to undermine his authority.

He urged the Palestinian Authority to crack down on terrorists who used Palestinian territory to launch attacks.  The commitments expressed by the Palestinians to curb terrorism must be turned to reality.  Israel had a right to security and the right to protect itself from terrorist attacks, but it should ensure prevention of civilian causalities.  It must stop extrajudiciary executions.  He urged both sides to pull back from the brink of violence and to work with Envoy Zinni to achieve peace.  Both sides must accept the responsibility to end the violations. 

However, the draft resolution was incomplete, and he would abstain in the voting.

VALERY P. KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said both parties should return to the negotiating table.  Both Palestinian and Israeli leaders had to show courage and patience.  His delegation categorically condemned any acts of terrorism to reach political goals.  He called on the Palestinian leadership to take urgent steps to exercise control over radical elements.  There could also be no excuse for the excessive use of force by Israel against Palestinian civilians and the reoccupation of Palestinian territory.

He said the practice of extrajudicial killings must stop.  He believed the recommendations of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee and the Mitchell report were firm steps forward in the quest for a solution to the problem in the Middle East.  Ukraine favoured a more active role for the Council in the search for a way to resolve the current confrontation.  It had recently offered both sides its good offices to assist in the resumption of negotiations.

JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said the question before the Council was whether the draft resolution could make a meaningful contribution to improving the situation in the Middle East.  Unfortunately, it 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 was that it never mentioned the recent acts of terrorism against Israelis or those responsible for them.  Terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were deliberately seeking to sabotage any potential there might be for Israelis and Palestinians to conclude a negotiated peace. 

He said it was Chairman Arafat’s responsibility to take a strategic stand against terrorism.  There could be no coexistence with terrorist organizations or acquiescence in their activities.  The Palestinian Authority must arrest those responsible for planning and carrying out terrorist attacks, and destroy the formal and informal structures that perpetuated terrorism.  Israel, for its part, must very carefully focus on the repercussion of any actions it took.  Neither party should lose sight of the need to resume progress towards a lasting end to the violence and resumption of a dialogue. 

The Council should not take any action that would turn the focus of the parties away from the efforts needed to improve an already tense situation.  The United States had decided to make use of its veto to block the draft resolution.

MIGNONETTE PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said her delegation was disheartened that in relation to the situation in the Middle East, the Council had failed to take any action since September 2000.  As the situation continued to deteriorate, it was crucial for the Council to carry out its Charter responsibilities.

The parties must move back to the negotiating table.  The provisions of the Sharm el-Sheikh agreements and the recommendations of the Mitchell report remained the basis for peace.  Her delegation also supported the establishment of a monitoring mechanism, since it would help in the implementation of the Mitchell report.

She said action by the Council would clearly demonstrate its responsibility for assisting in the peace process.  Jamaica fully supported the draft, and would vote in favour of its adoption.

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said there was total consensus on one point:  the situation in the Middle East was dangerous and getting more dangerous.  Only one organization had been assigned the responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and the Security Council must seize that responsibility.  If it did not, the situation got worse.  It was horrifying each morning to see more pictures of victims being targeted and killed.  The targeting of innocent civilians must be brought to an end.  The tragedy was that those killings were taking place at a time when the international community was trying to end the violence. 

He said all parties should be called on to end the violence and to rejoin the Middle East peace process.  The Mitchell report was supported by both parties and the entire international community.  There was no alternative to implementing Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1978).  Now, more than ever, the efforts of the international community should be redoubled.  He hoped that sometime soon the international community would come together and speak with one voice.

SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the use of force was not the solution to the problems of Israel and Palestine.  The Palestinian leadership should stop the violence by Palestinian terrorists, just as Israel’s use of military force would also not resolve the issues in the Middle East and would only result in return acts of vengeance by Palestinians.

He said the Israeli leaders could not deny the reality and the Palestinians’ right to an independent State.  Neither could Israel question the right of the Palestinians’ choice of Yasser Arafat as their leader.

He said the international community should spare no effort to halt the current spiral of violence.  The draft before the Council was a balanced text that decisively condemned terrorism and pushed the Mitchell plan.  The Russian Federation would therefore vote in favour of the resolution.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the violence taking place between the Palestinians and the Israelis proved the futility of the policy of an “eye for an eye”.  The only way to solve the question of the Middle East was by the cessation of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and the establishment of a Palestinian State on the basis of land for peace and the implementation of established agreements and resolutions. 

He said the Palestinian Authority was the legitimate and necessary party to all negotiations.  He supported President Arafat and the Palestinian Authority in continuing their effort for the solution of the question of Palestine through negotiations.  A speedy and just solution of the question of the Middle East was in the interest of all, and of international peace and security.  Given its primary responsibility, it was incumbent on the Council to make a contribution to the situation and play an active role in the Middle East.  The draft resolution before the Council was a balanced and realistic perception of the current situation.  He would vote in favour.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the Council could and must act vis-à-vis the situation in the Middle East, since it was a conflict that represented a real threat to international peace and security.  The Council was obligated to create conditions to end the violence and push the return to negotiations.

He appealed to the parties to welcome the Mitchell report.  His delegation also supported the diplomatic efforts of high-level envoys in the region.  The peace process was being eroded and would provide ample opportunities for terrorists. 

He said the Council had acted on an issue that was closely related following the events of 11 September.  On this issue today, the Council’s choice of actions could send an erroneous message to the parties in the region.  The Council must shoulder its responsibility and ensure the full endorsement and implementation of the Mitchell report.  That could only happen, however, if all members of the Council lent their support.

MUNSHI AHMAD (Bangladesh) said his Government strongly condemned the attacks on civilians.  The persistence of violence might be irreparable if steps were not taken now.  Israeli actions had only succeeded in eroding mutual confidence between the two sides.  There was a need to prevent further deterioration in the situation as it had grave consequences for international peace and security.  The Council must be responsive to the dire situation on the ground and the responsibility placed on it by the Charter.  It would be prudent to refer to the Mitchell report.  Both sides must take steps towards negotiations.  The draft resolution was balanced and constructive, and provided the Council with the capacity to act.  He would vote in favour of the resolution.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said the tragic and appalling events of 11 September had made progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even more urgent.  The vicious cycle of violence and terror must be stopped.  The consequences would be disastrous if the situation got out of hand.  The Palestinian Authority must renew its commitment to the ceasefire announced on 26 September, and Israel should stop its military actions against the Palestinians and show restraint.  President Arafat and the Palestinian Authority leaders were the elected leaders of Palestine; they were essential for resumption of the peace process.

The Mitchell recommendations had been devised as a package, he said.  Support to both parties in the form of a monitoring mechanism would facilitate implementation.  The objectives of resuscitating the peace process must be clear from the start:  for the Palestinians, it was an end to occupation and establishment of a viable State; for the Israelis, it was the right to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.  The Palestinian economy was in severe recession.  Norway remained committed to its role as chairman of the ad hoc liaison committee for assistance to the Palestinians.

The destiny of the Israelis and Palestinians was inseparable.  The aims set out in the resolution were much needed.  However, in the absence of unanimity, he would abstain on the resolution.

DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said the silence from the Security Council chamber had become too loud, particularly for those who suffered from the daily violence in the Middle East.  Everyone was frustrated with the violence in the Middle East that perpetuated more violence.  There could be no peace through violence.  Both sides must seize the opportunity for peace.

The Non-Aligned Movement was committed to working towards a negotiated settlement.  The recommendations of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, or the Mitchell report, contained measures for de-escalating the violence, building confidence and returning to the negotiation table.  The relevant Security Council resolutions, and the land for peace principle, were the benchmarks for the outcome of negotiations.  An international monitoring mechanism should be deployed to help the parties implement recommendations and to improve the situation on the ground.

AARON JACOB (Israel) said the past two weeks had seen an incredible escalation of Palestinian terrorism against Israel, 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 fulfil his responsibilities to fight terrorism.

Even a cursory analysis of the events of the last 14 days indicated that Chairman Arafat had abjectly failed to do so.   The terrorism that had afflicted Israeli civilians was part and parcel of the same fundamentalist terror that was now the focus of a comprehensive international campaign aimed at its eradication.  The same rejectionist ideologies that had imperilled the safety and security of Israelis for decades were finally being recognized as a clear and present danger to the world order.

Unfortunately, he continued, there were those who refused to acknowledge that Palestinians who targeted innocent Israelis were in fact terrorists.  They referred to a so-called cycle of violence, to the poverty and despair of the Palestinian population, and even bestowed the noble title of “freedom fighter” on those who killed children.  Israel had taken every action that any State would take to protect its citizens from the unrelenting threat of terrorism.  It had done everything in its power to ensure that its actions were targeted, limited and precise, in order to avoid causing harm to the civilian population.  For the Palestinian terrorist, however, civilians were the targets, and each civilian casualty was the benchmark of a successful operation.

He said there was no cause that could justify killing innocents.  Refusing to condemn terrorist murders only empowered extremists.  If the international community tolerated any act of terrorism, it rendered irrelevant the very methods it had championed for the peaceful resolution of disputes.  Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza was the result of a war in which his country’s very existence was threatened by the combined armies of several Arab nations.  The Israeli presence in those places was not the result of aggression but of self-defence.

He said the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East and a negotiated settlement was the continuing murder of civilians, and the abhorrent attempts to justify those murders by the Palestinian leadership.  Reports today indicated that Mr. Arafat had officially suspended his campaign against terrorists, if it ever indeed really existed.  By that statement, he had made it clear that he had no intention to end the violence, or take action against terrorists and to bring himself into accord with the will of the international community.  It further substantiated that while the Palestinians claimed to have made a strategic choice for peace, they had made a tactical choice of terrorism.  By his statement, Mr. Arafat was reinforcing his reputation as an untrustworthy and unreliable leader, who was leading his people towards yet another catastrophe. 

The situation was as bleak as it was dangerous, but all was not lost.  There was an ever-diminishing window of opportunity to reverse the descent into hopeless violence if the Council acted prudently today.  Unfortunately, the draft resolution did quite the opposite.  It blatantly ignored the murder of Israeli civilians, and Palestinian violations of signed agreements.

After all that had transpired in the past 14 days, was the draft really the message the Council wanted to send to the Palestinians? he asked.  The text was unbalanced and counter-productive.  It made numerous demands on one side, but no parallel demands on the other.  As such it would not help the parties to return to the negotiating table, which was the only place where outstanding issues could be resolved.

PAPA LOUIS FALL, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the Committee was particularly distressed given the extreme and ruthless measures taken by the Israeli authorities.  Those measures wiped out the de facto agreements and inflicted new suffering on the Palestinian people.  The avenging and vengeful actions that had caused so many deaths could well deteriorate into a catastrophic confrontation of which no one could predict the outcome.  The Committee had energetically and roundly condemned acts of violence whoever committed them -- the Israeli or Palestinian side. 

He said Israel was trying to capitalize on the legitimate indignation over the tragic events that the people of the United States had lived through recently.  The situation had become untenable and so explosive that the international community was duty bound to do something to mitigate the consequences of a tragedy that was well known.  The Committee energetically called for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian territory and the establishment of an observer force.  He called for a resumption of the peace negotiations together with the implementation of a supervisory body.  The Committee welcomed the recent statements by the representative of Israel regarding his commitment to peace and his commitment to abide by Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).  Peace could not thrive as long and the Palestinians and Israelis failed to resolve the problem.  Both had the right to live in peace with development and security.  The Council was duty bound to shoulder its responsibility.  It must adopt unanimously the draft resolution before it.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARILLA (Cuba) said the situation in the Middle East was a true war in which the occupying army with its sophisticated weaponry was decimating a heroic and defenceless people.  The Israeli actions found support in the policies of the United States.  Without the United States weapons, Palestinian civilians could not be killed and neither would this meeting of the Council be taking place.  Also, the recent history of the Middle East would be different without vetoes or threats of vetoes, which had been used to paralyse the Council.

He said the attacks against Palestinians and the Israel’s State-sponsored terrorism must cease immediately.  The flagrant violation of human rights and international humanitarian law must also be halted.  Illegal occupation must end.  Innocent Israeli civilians were also suffering due to policies of their Government.  Nevertheless, Cuba also condemned any act of terrorism in any place by whomever.  Terrorist acts, however, must not be used as a pretext to question the validity of the Palestinian struggle for an independent State.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said it was clear to everyone but Mr. Sharon that the Palestinian Authority and President Arafat were indispensable to the peace process, and that undermining them carried a grave risk of further destabilizing the region.  His country strongly supported the idea of a peacekeeping or protection force as the most effective mechanism to stop or at least to minimize the violence.  Had such a force been established, the current spiral of violence would have been greatly curbed and the crisis better managed.  The draft resolution only called for a "monitoring presence" but it was a concrete, positive step towards de-escalating the violence and paving the way to bringing the peace process back on track.

He said the United States should use its special relationship with Israel to get it to moderate its policies and practices against the Palestinians.  The United States should also influence Israel to manifest greater commitment to the peace process rather than condoning hostile and aggressive behaviour.  There could be no justification for taking lives, and such acts were condemned.  Still, the question should be asked why people committed such acts and sacrificed their lives for a cause in which they believed.  Hope for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict rested in addressing that question. 

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said the world had watched the mounting violence between Palestinians and Israelis with increasing horror since 11 September.  The peace process seemed dead and the world must do all it can to revive it.  Israel’s need to protect itself was understandable, while the violence of the terrorists served no purpose and won no sympathy for anyone.  Now, more than ever, terrorists must renounce violence.  The pursuit of known terrorists was justifiable. 

The pursuit of peace needed good will more than ever.  The Mitchell report must be implemented in accordance with both sides having accepted it.  The long-term objective remained the same as ever, he said.  Peace talks required partners.  Canada would continue to regard the Palestinian leaders as the legitimate representatives of their people.  The international community ardently desired the establishment of a State for the Palestinian people and security for Israel within its defined borders.

GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) said no one could remain indifferent to the violence and suffering in the Middle East and “peace must not elude us”.  The international community had an urgent need to resolve the problem, even as it expressed its deepest condolence to both sides for all the lives lost.

The attacks of terrorists and those of Israel were both abhorrent and both added to the escalation of violence.  Acts of violence furthered no one’s cause.  The only way to ensure peace was through negotiation.  Dialogue should be urgently resumed.  It was not necessary to point out that the Palestinian Authority was the only recognized representative of the Palestinian people.

He said tolerance must be the real guiding principle of both groups.  The recommendations of the Mitchell report must be implemented.  Ever since the question had been before the United Nations, Brazil had supported the attainment of a just resolution to the question of Palestine.  Both the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and the right of Israel to existence must be respected.  Tolerance must prevail over violence and restraint must prevail over extreme attitudes.  The Security Council’s role should be strengthened during times of crisis; hopefully, the Council would be able to fully assert its will in the future.

HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said occupation lay at the root of the Palestinian conflict, and of the tension and instability in the Middle East.  The shocking developments of the past months made it clear the crisis would never subside if that issue were not addressed.  Therefore, there could be no link whatever between terrorism and the right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli aggression and occupation, such resistance considered to be a legitimate right ensured by international laws and convention.  The Israeli aggression was not self-defence, and he rejected the policies of unlimited support extended to Israel

He said the targeted assassination by Israelis of a Palestinian on 23 November was at the heart of the latest cycle of violence.  There must be immediate intervention to stop the Israeli armed force's brutal campaign against civilians.

The Security Council was expected to take action to end the violations by the occupying Power, and to pave the way to bringing those responsible for the violations to justice.  It had been called upon to shoulder that responsibility in the past, but the exercise or threat of a veto had prevented the Council from discharging its constitutional responsibility on a crucial issue.  That inaction undoubtedly emboldened Israel to defy the wish of the international community, as reflected in numerous General Assembly resolutions.  The veto last March of a draft resolution authorizing establishment of an observer force had proved to be a disservice to the volatile situation in the area. 

JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking for the European Union, said that body had recently demanded committed action by both the Palestinian Authority and Israel.  A major statement on the Middle East would also be issued tomorrow.  

He said putting an end to the violence was a “must”.  Israel had the right to live in peace with safe borders, as did Palestinians to live in an independent State.  Israel also needed a partner and only the Palestinian Authority with its elected Chairman could fill that role.

Forthright implementation of the Mitchell report was the only way to resume the political dialogue.  The European Union also attached great importance to a programme of economic recovery for Palestinians, so that both sides could live side by side in peace and security.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the draft resolution before the Council called upon both parties to make a stand.  The draft took into account the concerns of France and provided a clear-cut condemnation of all forms of violence, extrajudicial killings and excessive use of force.  It appealed for implementation of the Mitchell recommendations and the establishment of a monitoring commission.

He said the settlement of the question must be based on the full recognition of Israel's irrevocable right to live in peace within recognized borders.  It must also be based on a viable independent and democratic Palestinian State.  With a view to eradicating terrorism, Israel needed an indispensable partner, that is, the Palestinian Authority.  The text before the Council gave a clear-cut direction of where the Council was supposed to go.  Because it was a balanced text, France would vote in favour of the draft.

GERARD CORR (Ireland) said he welcomed the debate, and supported Belgium's comments on behalf of the European Union.  Ireland felt that there was clear road back to the negotiating table, and he urged both sides to return to dialogue.

He said Ireland's Foreign Minister had recently condemned terrorist acts against both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.  Hamas must be dismantled.  The excessive use of force by Israel and the extrajudicial killings were also reprehensible, while the settlement activity had a corrosive effect on the peace process.

The draft specifically condemned all acts of terrorism and he wished that the Council could have spoken with one voice on it today.  Nevertheless, the draft deserved support and Ireland intended to vote in favour of it.

The President of the Council, MOCTAR OUANE, speaking as the representative of Mali, said he would in vote in favour of the draft resolution.  The Council could no longer remain silent.  It must take appropriate measures to deal with the situation in the Middle East.  The United Nations must continue to shoulder its responsibility for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.  The Council must make a contribution to improve the situation by taking measures to assist the parties to overcome the conflict.  The majority of delegations had found the text to be measured and well balanced, but unfortunately a few delegations would not support it.

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For information media. Not an official record.