ISRAELI PRACTICES IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, FORM OF APARTHEID FOURTH COMMITTEE TOLD, AS DEBATE CONTINUES

12 November 2002
GA/SPD/254

ISRAELI PRACTICES IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, FORM OF APARTHEID FOURTH COMMITTEE TOLD, AS DEBATE CONTINUES

12/11/2002
Press ReleaseGA/SPD/254

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Fourth Committee

22nd Meeting (AM)

ISRAELI PRACTICES IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, FORM OF APARTHEID

FOURTH COMMITTEE TOLD, AS DEBATE CONTINUES

Calling Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories a form of apartheid, the observer of the Organization of Islamic Conference told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this morning that, under international law, actions against Palestinians met all the elements of that crime.

Speaking on the second day of the general debate on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories, the representative said that Israel was deliberately accelerating the process of the judaization of Jerusalem, in flagrant violation of the agreements signed by the two sides as part of the peace process.  Its numerous violations of international law had included targeted assassinations, the demolition of houses, and the flattening of cultivated agricultural fields.

Several Arab Member States also drew attention to human rights violations and continued serious threats to regional security and stability.  The representative of the United Arab Emirates said that Israel had challenged all international humanitarian laws by continuing to violate the Palestinians’ right to life, imposing collective punishment and compulsory expulsions, using civilians, as well as staff of international agencies, as human shields, and resorting to arbitrary arrests and detentions of thousands of civilians.  It had also imposed curfews and severe restrictions on freedom of movement. 

Kuwait's representative said that even now, as the Committee and the Security Council were discussing the deteriorating situation, Israeli forces were attacking Palestinian camps and villages with tanks and armored vehicles.  Expansion of its settlement projects and other “criminal acts”, including the demolition of houses and the imposition of curfews, were practiced in the open, before the whole world, without any political, moral or human deterrent, he said.  Was Israel an unaccountable State, which was above the law? he asked. 

Highlighting Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the Special Committee or grant it access to the occupied territories, the representative of Lebanon expressed his appreciation for the Committee’s work, whose report had shed light on dangerous and counterproductive Israeli practices, which had affected some 600,000 Palestinians.  Lebanon was not immune to such practices, as Israel had occupied most of its territories and remained in the Shabaa farms, which had been laid with mines.

Lebanese prisoners were still being detained in Israeli prisons, without any legal basis and in violation of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.

The international community as a whole, and the United Nations in particular, had a responsibility to focus all its attention to putting an end to the inhumane practices of the Israeli regime, the representative of Iran urged.  Its military operation must be terminated and the Fourth Geneva Convention should be fully applied.  He was gravely concerned about the Israeli violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs in the occupied territories.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Libya, Bangladesh, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Zambia, Malawi, Bahrain, Sudan and Senegal.

The representatives of Syria, Israel, and Lebanon, as well as the observer of Palestine, spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 15 November, to consider related draft texts.

Background

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its consideration of Israeli practices.  [For background information, see press release GA/SPD/253 of 11 November 2001.]

Statements

ABDULHAMID YAHYA (Libya) said the Palestinian people suffered assassination and murder, demolition and curfews every day without discrimination.  The occupying Power was equipped with modern weapons provided by one of the major powers, which turned a blind eye to the use of those weapons on vulnerable Palestinians.  Israel, in clear defiance of the will of the international community, had rejected numerous international resolutions regarding Israeli practices in the occupied territories, including the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.  Israel had rejected numerous resolutions, including the one calling for an investigation into the Jenin refugee camp. 

He said Israel was the only country considered an occupation power by the Security Council and which was engaged in settlement activity.  It was also the only country to reject all Security Council resolutions.  Its dangerous and criminal actions aimed at the elimination of the Palestinian people.  The Security Council had witnessed Israel’s war crimes and State terrorism without performing its duties, due to a permanent member of the Council.  Security Council resolutions should be implemented, but not in a selective way.  Israel’s continued rejection of the Council’s resolutions weakened the credibility of that body’s resolutions.  Heinous Israeli practices had led to frustration and anger in the Arab and Islamic region, threatening peace and security.

The basic problem, he said, was the Israeli occupation.  The international community should pressure the occupying force to withdraw from all of the occupied territories.  Occupation was a disease.  Compelling Israel to end the occupation was the only solution to the problem and would allow the Palestinians to build a State on their national soil.  He looked forward to the day when the international community would shoulder its responsibility to achieve peace in that sensitive part of the world.

IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that the Special Committee's reports documented the devastating effect of Israeli practices and policies on Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories and illustrated Israel's wanton disregard for human rights.  In such an environment, he reasoned, it was only natural that Palestinians should engage in resistance.  In fact, to partake in such a struggle was their legitimate right.  What was illegitimate, on the other hand, was Israel's inhumane response to that resistance.

He said that the Israeli Government's legislative and judicial branches had, among other things, enacted and upheld measures to demolish Palestinian houses without offering compensation to the victims.  Such policies violated the Fourth Geneva Convention and flouted international law.  He said that, at the very least, the Committee should incessantly remind Israel, the foreign occupier, of its obligations under the Convention.  Additionally, he called upon the Convention's high contracting parties to ensure that it was not reduced to a meaningless document.

       HAMAD HAREB AL-HABSI (United Arab Emirates) said that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan, and Shabaa farms in Lebanon, represented the most serious violations of human rights.  It also constituted a serious threat to regional stability and security, as well as international peace.  Israel had challenged all international humanitarian laws by continuing to violate the Palestinians’ right to life, imposing collective punishment and compulsory expulsion, using civilians, as well as staff of international agencies, as human shields, and resorting to arbitrary arrests and detentions of thousands of civilians.  It had also imposed curfews and severe restrictions on freedom of movement. 

In addition, he said, Israel had continued to build and expand settlements in violation of the relevant international resolutions.  Its attempts to judaize the cultural and demographic aspects of the Syrian Golan heights had serious consequences on Arab cultural and social identity.  He was also deeply concerned about the difficulties facing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which had been suffering for many years from a serious shortfall in funding.  He urged the international community, as well as the donor countries, to increase their donations and fulfil their financial obligations in that regard.  He also called for exerting more pressure on Israel to end the occupation and ensure its compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

GOBRAN SOUFAN (Lebanon) expressed his appreciation for the work of the Special Committee, which had done a wonderful job since 1968 despite not being able to enter the occupied territories.  That was not surprising.  The period covered in the report had been characterized by an escalation in bloody Israeli practices.  According to the Special Committee’s report, the human rights of the Palestinian people had greatly deteriorated following the incursion of Israeli forces in the occupied territories.  The economic situation in the occupied territories was also grim.  Every part of life had been affected by the occupation.  The report also noted the aggravation of the human rights situation during the period, as well as the extreme suffering of the Palestinian people.  The Israeli army had also resorted to using the employees of international organizations as human shields.

The consequences of the Israeli practices had affected some

600,000 Palestinians, he added.  Israel depended on the practice of double standards in the occupied territories.  It was evident that Israel was launching a devastating war against the Palestinian people and also practiced repression in the occupied Syrian Golan.  Lebanon was not immune to those practices, as Israel had occupied most of its territories and remained in the Shabaa farms.  Mines could still be found there and Lebanese prisoners were kept in Israeli prisons without any legal basis and in violation of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. 

The report had shed light on dangerous and counterproductive Israeli practices, he said.  In that regard, he endorsed all of the Special Committee’s recommendations and called for the intensification of peace efforts and the application of the Arab peace initiative to maintain and respect the rights of the Palestinian people, halt the shedding of blood and put an end to violence.  In that way, frustration would give way to hope.

MOHAMMAD HASSAN FADAIFARD (Iran) noted that the reporting period was the most violent in the history of the Special Committee.  It had been marked by an unprecedented intensification of the Israeli military incursions into areas under full Palestinian control.  As a result of those incursions, the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories dramatically deteriorated.  Thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, were killed and wounded by the Israeli army.  Israel’s massive operation in the Jenin refugee camp inflicted vast devastation and untold suffering.  In addition, the Israeli military forces took Palestinians hostage there and used them as human shields. 

He said that the destruction of Palestinian homes in Jenin and Nablus alone had left several thousand people homeless.  Israeli forces even bulldozed homes there with people inside them.  It also raided many installations, such as medical facilities, schools, religious sites and official buildings of the Palestinian Authority.  That had dealt a severe blow to the capacity of the Palestinian Authority and its institutions, resulting in devastation of the Palestinian economy.  The destructive effects of the military campaigns on the livelihood of the Palestinian people, curfews and other restrictions, had also caused tremendous suffering, resulting in a humanitarian crisis.  Against that backdrop, the Israeli settlement activities in Palestinian territories and the occupied Syrian Golan had continued throughout the year.

The continuing Israeli occupation lay at the core of the conflict and must end, he said.  The international community as a whole, and the United Nations in particular, had a responsibility to focus all its attention to putting an end to the inhumane practices of the Israeli regime and protecting defenceless Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories.  The military operation must be terminated and the Fourth Geneva Convention should be fully applied.  Members of the Special Committee should have access to the occupied territories to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs in the occupied territories.

JON YONG RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the brutal actions of Israel in the occupied territories and other Arab countries had revealed the negative attitude of the Israeli Government towards the issue of peace in the Middle East.  Rocket attacks by regular armed forces against unarmed civilians, including children and women, and the house arrest of the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people constituted State terrorism and could not be justified in any manner.  Such actions presented a grave challenge to world peace and security and were in wanton violation of international law.  Moreover, Israeli practices were being encouraged at the same time that the “elimination of terrorism” was being advocated.  It was clear that double standards were part of the Security Council’s work. 

Peace in the Middle East could never be achieved as long as the oppressive policies of Israel continued, he said.  The just cause of the Palestinian people to regain their lost homeland could not be checked by force.   The use of force in international relations should not be allowed in any cause.  Israel should immediately stop its undisguised coercive action in the name of “retaliation” and withdraw unconditionally from the occupied Palestinian territory.  Israel should also discontinue the construction and expansion of settlements as well as the expulsion of Palestinian populations, the destruction of infrastructure and the plunder of cultural assets.

He said the Security Council should recover impartiality and confidence in its work through substantial contributions to peace in the Middle East.  The cause of the Palestinians and all Arab peoples to restore their human rights and right to self-determination was just.  His country fully supported the cause of the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate national rights, including their right to the establishment of an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital.  Israeli armed forces should withdraw from all occupied Arab territories, including the occupied Syrian Golan, in accordance with various United Nations resolutions and the principle of “land for peace”.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. AL-OTAIBI (Kuwait) said the reports before the Committee clearly pointed to the persistence of brutal Israeli policies, in contravention of international humanitarian law.  Even now, as this Committee and the Security Council were discussing the deteriorating situation, Israeli forces were attacking Palestinian camps and villages with tanks and armored vehicles.  Israel continued to flout the United Nations resolutions and the bilateral agreements it signed with the Palestinian Authority, within the framework of the peace process.  It continued, in 2002, to expand its settlement projects and build more in the occupied territories.  Israeli practices had including firing on civilians, detentions, the demolition of houses, the imposition of curfews and closures and severe restrictions on mobility.  

Those criminal acts were practiced in the open, before the whole world, without any political, moral of human deterrent, he said.  Was Israel an unaccountable State, which was above the law? he asked.  Regrettably, the good endeavours of some unbiased parties had not encouraged the Israeli Government to forego its obstinate policies in favour of a civilized approach.  Even the adoption of many resolutions by the Security Council and General Assembly had not stopped the Israeli Government from flouting the relevant texts or the agreements signed with the Palestinians, beginning with the so-called Oslo agreement.  He supported all international efforts aimed at resuming negotiations.  Solving the Palestinian question was only possible through direct dialogue and peaceful means.  He also called for greater support of the Special Committee and greater pressure on Israel to stop its practices.

MWELWA MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia) said that the Special Committee, along with a United Nations fact-finding team and human rights mission, had been denied entry into the occupied territories by Israel.  In that context, he requested the Israeli Government to change its stance and not obstruct the work of the Special Committee or any other United Nations organs.  Violence could only beget violence, he said, condemning the targeting of innocent Israeli civilians by suicide bombers, as well as the killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli Defense Force.  He called upon Israel to end its policy of destroying Palestinian lives and property.  Peace could only be achieved if the Palestinian right of sovereignty, as explained by the relevant Security Council resolutions, was recognized.

ISAAC LAMBA (Malawi) voiced full support for the Committee's findings and recommendations.  He believed that they would lead to lasting peace in the region.  Reminding delegates that the question of Palestine had been on the United Nations agenda for over five decades, he said it was unfortunate that, in spite of resolutions supporting the Palestinian right of independence, the issue was still unresolved.  In the meantime, the number of Palestinian refugees in other countries continued to rise, and poverty and unemployment stifled the occupied territories.

He decried the fact that the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in Ramallah continued to be besieged and bombarded by the Israeli armed forces.  Restricting the free movement of the Palestinian leader was illegal and prevented peace from coming to the region.  He also criticized Israel's failure to implement resolutions that called for its withdrawal from the occupied territories.  Although he commended Israel for having taken the concerns of the international community “a little more seriously”, he nevertheless remained unimpressed with its high-handedness and strong-armed responses in certain areas.

Turning to the Palestinian side, he expressed disapproval of suicide bombings and attacks on innocent civilians.  In that context, he called on the international community to condemn all forms of violence, regardless of who the perpetrators were or what causes were being advanced.  Before concluding, he urged restraint on both sides and advised them to return to the negotiating table to achieve a durable peace in the region.  He called for them to cooperate with all of the peace proposals that had already been tabled, including the Mitchell report and the Tenet plan.

FAISAL AL-ZAYANI (Bahrain) said the Special Committee’s report reflected the deterioration of the circumstances in the occupied territories.  It also described a dangerous increase in repressive Israeli measures and the decline of the human rights situation in the occupied territories.  The testimonies of the witnesses before the Special Committee had pointed to the tragic condition in which the Palestinian people were living.  Such testimonies painted a dark picture of the humanitarian and economic situation in the occupied territories.  The dire situation stemmed from Israel’s illegal policy of annexation and settlement in violation of numerous United Nations resolutions.  Those resolutions described Israeli settlements in the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, as illegal and a serious obstacle to peace.  The Security Council had also considered Israel’s decision to impose its laws and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan as null and void. 

As noted by the Special Committee, closing the doors to the occupied territories had limited the Committee’s ability to complete its report, he said.  Repressive operations had become arbitrary and indiscriminate.  In addition to the use of excessive force, including tanks, helicopter gun ships and jets, Israel continued to demolish homes and destroy agriculture.  It also continued in its practice of collective punishment, closures and unfair taxes.  The report also noted that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights described Israel’s use of human shields, including members of the Red Crescent.  The report pointed to many Israeli practices in the Syrian Arab Golan, including linking the economy of an occupied Syrian village with the Israeli market in an effort to make that village’s economy dependent on Israeli companies.  Israel’s settlement and expansion, exploitation of natural resources and destruction of the Arab culture and heritage was also noted in the report. 

Peace was a strategic option, he said.  The heads of State and government in the Millennium Declaration had emphasized the need to bring about just and permanent peace in all parts of the world.  They had also stressed the rights of people under foreign occupation to self-determination.  Within that framework, a permanent, just and comprehensive peace required full implementation of Security Council resolutions.  The suffering of the Palestinian people would not end as long as Israeli occupation and settlement activity continued.

HASSAN HAMID HASSAN (Sudan) commended the report, which gave a factual accounting of Israeli practices.  It emphasized the relevance of the work of the Special Committee, which was the only organ that objectively monitored and recorded those crimes committed daily and around-the-clock against unarmed civilians.  Any undermining of the Special Committee’s effectiveness or role would lead to a further escalation of Israeli violations.  The Committee was established by the General Assembly at its forty-first session, but since then, Israel had refused to cooperate.  Thus, the Special Committee still struggled to establish facts on the ground.  Was there any other greater defiance of international law? he asked.

He said that during the past year there had been wide-scale military occupation and sweeps in the cities of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  Destruction campaigns, the demolition of homes, and massive round-ups had taken place on an unprecedented scale.  All of those practices had been aimed at uprooting the Palestinians and other Arabs from their ancestral homeland and turning them into refugees and displaced persons.  He called upon the international community not to turn a blind eye to those crimes against humanity and to put an end to those atrocities, which posed real threats to both regional and international peace and security.  It was neither comprehensible nor admissible that Israel had violated 29 resolutions of the United Nations, while the international community remained hamstrung.

MALICK THIERNO SOW (Senegal) said the human rights situation in the occupied territories was characterized by despair and frustration, as a result of Israel’s policy of violence.  The report underlined the mass and repeated violations in the occupied territories.  The building of settlements, the judaization of East Jerusalem, mass expulsions, arbitrary detentions, the destruction of Palestinian property, restrictions on movement and the right of assembly were all serious violations of human rights in the occupied territories.  Torture, interrogation and deprivation of food were becoming daily events.  Israeli settlements were in violation of United Nations resolutions.

Ultimately, he said, the occupying territory was being fragmented into a mosaic of separate precincts that could be placed under military control much more easily.  The policy of digging trenches and building fences had achieved their objective, namely the gradual deterioration of the daily life of the Palestinian people.  The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people lived in poverty and wretched, inhuman conditions.

The co-sponsors of the peace process should redouble efforts to invigorate it, he said.  The need to apply relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on the Palestinian question was imperative.  The provision of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention should also be applied to all the Arab occupied territories, including Jerusalem.  He urged the Special Committee to engage in its delicate mission until such time that peace, justice and solidarity prevailed for all countries of the region.  Senegal’s faithfulness to the Palestinian cause would continue, in order to ensure that the fraternal Palestinian people could enjoy all their rights as soon as possible.

YUSSEF F. KANAAN, of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that the reports made clear Israel’s defiance of the will of the international community and international human rights instruments.  It had been intransigent in its refusal to cooperate with the Special Committee since its establishment in 1968, including its denial to give it access to the occupied territories.  Israel had reached unprecedented levels of suppression and had persisted in its excessive and indiscriminate use of force against Palestinian civilians.  Its numerous violations of international law and international humanitarian law had included targeted assassinations, demolition of houses, destruction of other property, the flattening of cultivated agricultural fields, and the imposition of harsh closures and curfews.

He said Israel was in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention for the torture of Palestinian prisoners in its jails.  The Israeli occupation forces continued to punish the families of those that were “wanted” by Israel, even if the “wanted” were in detention or had been killed.  Also, the Israeli occupation forces regularly discharged tear gas, a lethal ammunition, not only to quell demonstrations, but also to punish and harass the Palestinian people.  The curfews also constituted collective punishment and contravened international law, as concluded by two Israeli non-governmental organizations.  The Israeli occupation forces had also taken Palestinian civilians hostage and used them as human shields.

The construction of Israeli’s “apartheid wall” had involved confiscation of Palestinian land and contravened the Hague regulations, which prohibited the occupying Power from making permanent changes in the occupied territories.  That form of apartheid against Palestinians met all elements of the crime of apartheid, as defined in the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.  Israel was also accelerating the deliberate process of judaization of Jerusalem.  It closed down several Palestinian organizations dealing with Arab affairs in Jerusalem, in flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of the agreements signed by the two sides as part of the peace process, which the current Israeli Government was destroying.

Rights of Reply

The observer of Palestine, responding to comments made yesterday by the Israeli representative, said that the Special Committee continued to be both relevant and necessary.  Only when Israeli occupation was effectively ended and the human rights violations ceased, would the mandate of the Special Committee be fulfilled and its work no longer be relevant.  She awaited such a day with great anticipation and hope.  Israel’s questioning of the utility and credibility of the Committee’s work and disdainfully labeling it as propaganda was offensive and completely ignored the realities of the situation on the ground.  In that regard, Israel's claim to have taken “great care” to “minimize the harm endured by the civil population” was starkly refuted by the facts.

Israel could not, under any circumstances, be allowed to conceal or distort the fact that it was an occupying power, she continued.  That was the context in which all events on the ground must be viewed.  The origin and root cause of all problems that had arisen for more than three decades was the existence of that occupation, which had been transformed into a violent and brutal form of colonialism that negated the rights and very existence of the Palestinian people.  That had contributed to the creation of suicide bombers.  They had not emerged in a vacuum, but were a consequence, and not a cause, of the occupation and actions of the occupying forces.  Yet, the Palestinian Authority had taken a clear position against them, condemning the bombings against civilians in Israel.

At same time, she said, it was important to distinguish between the suicide bombings in Israel and the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory.  Resistance was a legitimate right of an oppressed and occupied people and should not be confused with condemnable acts of terror.  Israel had also repeatedly tried to justify its military actions against Palestinians as actions against “terrorists”, with the aim of destroying their “terrorist” infrastructure, but no argument could justify grave breaches of international humanitarian law.  The perpetrators of war crimes, at both political and military levels, must be held accountable and be brought to justice.  Israel's Defence Minister was a recycled war criminal and its Prime Minister had also been implicated in war crimes against the Palestinians. 

The representative of Syria said the statement of Israel yesterday was full of misinformation and disinformation.  He was not astonished at Israel’s attack on the work of the Special Committee.  Israel would not accept any committee to investigate its brutal practices unless it spoke on behalf of Israel and defended its killings.  Israel had rejected cooperation with the fact-finding team to investigate the events at the Jenin refugee camp.  The representative of Israel had described all forms of Arab resistance as a form of terrorism.  By doing so, it was disregarding the rights of people to resist foreign occupation.

Israel had been transformed by its bloody practices into the most important party practicing terrorism in the world today, he said.  Israel was trying to justify its continued occupation since 1967 with mere lies.  Israel used the pretext of the right to defend itself, while it was perpetrating its policy of occupation and aggression.  The world knew that Israel was the one that attacked Arab countries in 1967 and continued to occupy those territories for 35 years.

Did self-defence mean annexation and the expulsion of Arab populations by force? he asked.  Israel continued to speak about peace, but was in fact practicing terrorism and war.  Since the beginning of the Madrid peace process, Israel continued to occupy Syrian land and continued to kill Palestinians without discrimination.  It was paradoxical to hear an attack against the people and leaders of the countries in the region, particularly since many of the Israeli leaders should come before war crimes courts because of the massacres it had committed.  The same logic in Israel’s statement yesterday had prevented peace until now.  The means of reaching a just peace was well known, namely the implementation of international resolutions, the principle of land for peace and the Arab initiative adopted by the Beirut Conference.

The representative of Israel, also in right of reply, said his country had been unable to cooperate with the Special Committee because it singled out Israel and presupposed that it somehow affected the human rights of Palestinians and others.  Moreover, the Committee’s reports were totally one-sided.  Israel had not cooperated with the Committee in the past, and would not do so in the future.  During recent meetings on United Nations communications, a Member State rightly said that the public did not have a very favourable opinion of the Organization.  The existence of the Special Committee was one reason why.

He said that the Oslo accord seemed to work for a while and two years ago Israel's Prime Minister had made a very significant offer, which included the establishment of a Palestinian State covering almost the entire territory of the West Bank and Gaza.  The Palestinian leadership chose to say “no” and embark on a terror campaign, which had claimed the lives of more than 650 Israelis in the past two years.  The suicide bombings and other monstrous terrorist behaviour had ensued, including the recent murder in Kibbutz of a mother and two children.

Regarding the statement made by the Syrian representative, he recalled that, in 1967, Israel’s neighbours, had tried to do away with the Jewish State.  The Golan was then captured by Israel.  Since then, Israel had made every effort to make peace with Syria and its many significant offers were always rejected.  Now,

the Syrian representative said it also wanted peace.  As for Lebanon, everyone -- including the Secretary-General -- knew that Israel had left 100 per cent of the territory of Lebanon, but the Lebanese and Syrians continued to insist that Israel was still there.

Israel, was proud of its treaties with two important neighbours, Egypt and Jordan.  It hoped to have peace with his remaining neighbours -– Syria and Lebanon, and those who lived in its midst, the Palestinians.  Peace was Israel’s goal and its dream, and futile debates would not change that.

The representative of Lebanon said the Israeli representative had said that the United Nations had not done much to push the peace process forward and to bring the parties to a negotiated settlement.  Did Israel want the United Nations to operate on the basis of international law?  Regarding questions about Arab leaders, the Arab peace initiative represented all the Arab nations and reflected their conviction for peace.  Of course the international community condemned terrorism, but at the same time it condemned the occupation of foreign lands.  In the United Nations, Israel was the only occupying Power.

He said the core problem in the Middle East was the question of Palestine and anything else was an offshoot of that problem.  Regarding the question of the Shabaa farms, who was present in the farms now? he asked.  Were they Lebanese or Syrian?  The only party there was Israel.  It was an occupied land that belonged to Lebanon.  The peoples had the right to resist occupation as long as it existed.  Lebanon was keen for peace on the basis of United Nations resolutions and the Arab peace initiatives.

The representative of Syria said that Israel had expelled and displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland.  Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and other countries had embraced with all love and care those displaced Palestinians.  They had provided them with assistance to ensure their right to a decent life until they returned to their homes and property.  It was strange that the Israeli representative had attacked those Palestinians.  The question was, where would they go?  Where would they turn?  They must return to their homeland

-- to Palestine -- and that was in line with relevant United Nations resolutions.  Until that moment materialized, all Palestinians had the right to express their views.

Regarding the Israeli withdrawal, he said Israel had not withdrawn from all the territories and continued to occupy lands -- Syrian or Lebanese.  In any case, occupied lands were not Israeli lands.  Israel continued to occupy those territories and must withdraw.  It was ridiculous to hear the representative of Israel speak about peace.  Despite the United Nations efforts and initiatives to find a just and comprehensive settlement of the Middle East question, Israel rejected those initiatives in defiance of the international community, as demonstrated by its occupation.  The Arab States launched their peace initiative with full Arab endorsement.  Israel had rejected it by sweeping Palestinian cities in the West Bank.

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For information media. Not an official record.