SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS ON BOTH MIDDLE EAST PARTIES TO MOVE IMMEDIATELY TO ‘MEANINGFUL CEASEFIRE’
SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS ON BOTH MIDDLE EAST PARTIES TO MOVE IMMEDIATELY TO ‘MEANINGFUL CEASEFIRE’
4503rd Meeting (Night)
SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS ON BOTH MIDDLE EAST PARTIES TO MOVE
IMMEDIATELY TO ‘MEANINGFUL CEASEFIRE’
Resolution 1402 (2002) Adopted by Vote of 14 in Favour to None Against
Gravely concerned at the further deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, including the recent suicide bombings in Israel and the military attack against the headquarters of the President of the Palestinian Authority, the Security Council this morning (30 March) called on both parties to move immediately to a meaningful ceasefire.
Adopting resolution 1402 (2002) by a vote of 14 in favour to none opposed (the Syrian delegation did not participate in the vote), the Council also called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah.
In addition, the Council called on the parties to cooperate fully with Special Envoy Zinni, and others, to implement the Tenet security work plan as a first step towards implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations, with the aim of resuming negotiations on a political settlement. Further, the Council reiterated its demand in resolution 1397 (2002) for an immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction.
Following the Council's adoption of the text, the representatives of Israel and Syria made statements, as did the Permanent Observer for Palestine.
At the outset of the debate that preceded the Council's action, Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted his deep alarm at the rapid escalation of violence in the region and urged the Council to consider the alarming deterioration of the situation on the ground, how the international community could help ensure that the relevant Council resolutions became a reality, and how to help bring the parties back to the negotiating table.
He said terrorism and extremism must not be allowed to prevail. Terrorism would not bring the Palestinian people closer to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, he stressed. At the same time, he noted that he had consistently voiced criticism over Israel’s use of disproportionate lethal force. Both sides must adopt policies that reinforced the prospects of a political settlement. He called on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Chairman Yasser Arafat to exercise responsible leadership and make every effort to take advantage of the outcome of the recent Arab Summit held in Beirut, which had set out a vision for full peace in the region.
Israel’s representative said the voice of the Palestinian leadership had not been a voice of moderation; it had been a voice of terrorism. He asked what Israel was to do in the face of the deliberate massacres and the failure of the Palestinian leadership to fulfil its commitments. Could there be any doubt of the right and fundamental duty of States to protect their citizens from terrorism?
He said Israel had no intention of occupying any territory under Palestinian control; rather, it sought to uproot the terrorist network there. It would keep its hand outstretched towards peace. It must be made clear that terrorism could never be tolerated. Chairman Arafat could be convinced to fight terrorism, but, for that to happen, the message sent to him must be clear, comprehensive and unrelenting.
The Permanent Observer for Palestine said the current Israeli military action represented the beginning of the destruction of the elected Palestinian Authority, getting rid of Mr. Arafat, and reoccupying Palestinian territory. That action came directly on the heels of the Arab League Summit in Beirut, which had adopted landmark resolutions that could change the entire situation in the Middle East region.
The Council must uphold its responsibilities under the Charter and follow up on implementation of resolution 1397 (2002), he said. It must also address the grave situation created by Mr. Sharon since yesterday -- for Israel to put an end to acts of aggression and withdraw its forces from the Palestinian territories, including Ramallah.
The representative of Spain, for the European Union and associated States, stressed the need for an immediate application of a ceasefire taking into account the conditions already envisaged in the Tenet plan and those expressed by the United States Special Envoy, Anthony Zinni. The resolution put forward by the Arab Summit was a solid basis for progress towards a fair peace in the region. He remained convinced that a third party-monitoring mechanism would help both parties to pursue their efforts.
The representative of the United States said he was gravely concerned over the situation in Ramallah and deplored the killing of innocent Israelis and Palestinians. While he understood that Israel had the right to self-defence, he called on Prime Minister Sharon to consider the consequences of his actions.
Mr. Arafat would be essential in order to establish any sense of calm. The Security Council, his Government and the international community had endorsed a vision of two States living side by side in peace. That vision must not be destroyed by those bent on violence.
The situation was worsening by the hour, the representative of Saudi Arabia said. The Council must intervene to stop the violence and killing. Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah’s peace initiative, adopted at the Arab Summit, had been welcomed by the international community, he noted. The Summit had affirmed the Arab aspiration to live in amity and to establish normal relations with Israel, following a full Israeli withdrawal, the establishment of a Palestinian State, and
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a solution to the situation of the refugees. The Crown Prince had affirmed at the Summit that Israel was making a most serious mistake if it thought it could impose an unjust peace upon the Arabs by force of arms. No peace based on oppression could survive.
Statements during the debate were also made by the representatives of Ireland, Guinea, France, Mauritius, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Singapore, Colombia, Mexico, Bulgaria, China, Cameroon, Syria, Norway, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Qatar, Djibouti, Jordan (for the Arab Group), Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, Cuba and India.
The meeting was called to order at 6:40 p.m. and suspended at 10:55 p.m. It resumed at 4:25 a.m. and adjourned at 4:40 a.m.
“The Security Council,
“Reaffirming its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, and the Madrid principles,
“Expressing its grave concern at the further deterioration of the situation, including the recent suicide bombings in Israel and the military attack against the headquarters of the President of the Palestinian Authority,
“1. Calls upon both parties to move immediately to a meaningful ceasefire; calls for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah; and calls upon the parties to cooperate fully with Special Envoy Zinni, and others, to implement the Tenet security work plan as a first step towards implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations, with the aim of resuming negotiations on a political settlement;
“2. Reiterates its demand in resolution 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002 for an immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction;
“3. Expresses support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and the special envoys to the Middle East to assist the parties to halt the violence and to resume the peace process;
“4. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
The Security Council met this evening to take up the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN said he had just returned from Beirut where Arab leaders had decided to embrace Crown Prince Abdullah’s proposal, which had proposed a way forward towards a peaceful resolution to the situation in the Middle East. Prior to the summit, he noted, the Council had passed resolution 1397 (2002), which had affirmed the vision of two States living side by side within secure internationally recognized borders.
The international community must do everything possible to advance those efforts, he stressed. Terrorism and extremism must not be allowed to prevail. He was deeply alarmed by the rapid escalation of violence in recent days. There had been horrific terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. He understood the anger of the Israeli Government and people over the attacks. Terrorism would not bring the Palestinian people closer to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State. At the same time, he noted that he had consistently voiced criticism over Israel’s use of disproportionate lethal force. Both sides must adopt policies that reinforced the prospects of a political settlement.
He called on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Chairman Yasser Arafat to exercise responsible leadership and to make every effort to take advantage of the outcome outlined at the Arab Summit. Israel should halt its assault on the Palestinian Authority -– destroying that body would not bring Israel closer to peace.
He urged the Council to consider the alarming deterioration of the situation on the ground, how it could help ensure that the relevant Council resolutions became a reality, and how to help bring the parties back to the negotiating table.
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said the Council was gathering in the wake of a “new insane step” taken by Prime Minister Sharon and his Government. Israeli occupation forces had dispersed their tanks and vehicles to destroy the headquarters of President Arafat. Israeli forces had destroyed the larger part of the President’s compound with the exception of one building in which the President remained with a limited number of his aides.
Israel had committed grave mistakes, he continued. Any harm to President Arafat would be the “mother of all those mistakes”. The Israeli occupation forces had also reoccupied Ramallah and parts of other Palestinian towns, such as Nablus and Bethlehem, and torn asunder parts of the Gaza Strip. Israel had also declared Arafat as its enemy and declared that the military operation currently under way would last for weeks to come.
That, he said, represented the beginning of the destruction of the elected Palestinian Authority, getting rid of Arafat, reoccupying Palestinian territory and throwing the situation back to pre-Oslo. Mr. Sharon had made public his hatred of the peace agreements under Oslo, his refusal to accept a final settlement and rejection of the Mitchell recommendations.
That “insane” Israeli step came directly on the heels of the fourteenth Arab League Summit in Beirut, which had adopted landmark resolutions of great significance -- resolutions which were adequate to change the entire situation in the Middle East region. Perhaps, that was one of the reasons for the timing of the latest operations.
Some Israeli quarters had stated that what was going on was only a reaction to the explosions, which had taken place in Israel in recent days, he said. The Palestinian leadership had categorically condemned those explosions, and its position was clear –- they were against such attacks, as they did not serve the interest of the Palestinian cause. Israeli forces had laid a strangling siege against President Arafat and the Palestinian people.
The Palestinians had accepted the Mitchell recommendations and the Tenet work plan, but the Israeli side had buried the Mitchell recommendations, he said. Only yesterday, President Arafat had declared his willingness to implement a ceasefire and implement unconditionally the Tenet work plan. The other side would not even mention the Mitchell recommendations. “We cannot turn ourselves into an ostrich that buries its head in the sand.”
He had come here today convinced that there was a need for the Council to uphold its responsibilities under the Charter and to follow up on implementation of resolution 1397 (2002), which had not been implemented yet. Israel had yet to state its official position with regard to that resolution, he said. He wanted the Council to address the grave situation created by Mr. Sharon since yesterday; put an end to acts of aggression; and withdraw Israeli forces from the Palestinian territories, including Ramallah. He had distributed a text, which he hoped would receive the support of the Council. There was a promise of peace emanating from Beirut, which required action from the Council.
YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said the latest horrific acts of Palestinian terrorism were occurring as Jews celebrated Passover, the festival of freedom. The massacre in Netanya on Wednesday had claimed the lives of more than
20 citizens and injured many more. Since the massacre, there had been more acts of terrorism, among them, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who had blown herself up. Many acts had been committed by the military wing of Chairman Arafat’s own movement. Since General Zinni’s arrival in the region, 49 Israelis had been killed, and 102 Israelis had been murdered in March alone.
That was the Palestinian response to resolution 1397 and to the visits of Envoy Zinni and United States Vice-President Dick Cheney. Those measures had been undertaken to facilitate a ceasefire and pave the way to a political settlement. For its part, his country had taken clear and specific steps to ensure that the measures would succeed.
He welcomed resolution 1397. Israel had withdrawn its troops from territories under Palestinian control, and other measures had been taken, including the acceptance of the compromise proposals put forward by Special Envoy Zinni. Israel had accepted Mitchell and Tenet in full. If more proof was needed, it could be found in the support expressed for certain aspects of the Arab Summit peace proposal. It had continued to show maximum restraint even in the face of recent actions.
The voice of the Palestinians leadership had not been a voice of moderation; it had been a voice of terrorism, he said. Despite the commitment to renounce terrorism, Chairman Arafat had made it abundantly clear that the murder of innocent Israelis was legitimate and desirable, and that terrorism and dialogue could live side by side.
He asked what Israel was to do in the face of the deliberate massacres and the failure of the Palestinian leadership to fulfil its commitments. Could there be any doubt of the right and fundamental duty of States to protect their citizens from terrorism? Israel was compelled to take the measures the Palestinian leadership had refused to take and would exercise its right of self-defence. All measures would be taken to minimize harm to innocent civilians.
He said Israel had no intention of occupying any territory under Palestinian control; rather, it sought to uproot the terrorist network there. It would keep its hand outstretched towards peace. It must be made clear that terrorism could never be tolerated. Chairman Arafat could be convinced to fight terrorism, but, for that to happen, the message must be clear, comprehensive and unrelenting.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said it was now impossible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation in the Middle East, which posed a threat to international peace and security and a threat to the peoples of the region. In resolution 1397, the Council had reaffirmed a vision of a region where two States would live side by side. Since the adoption of that resolution, the situation had gravely deteriorated.
It was clear that the parties were now trapped and could not emerge without outside help, he said. Ireland’s Prime minister had called for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and had called on all parties to declare an immediate ceasefire. Ireland utterly condemned the attack in Netanya and the other attacks on civilians. Such actions only subverted chances for a peaceful settlement, as stated by the Secretary-General.
It should be clear by now that no solution could be found through terrorism or military action, he said. Current Israeli military actions were deeply dangerous and unwise. They only served to enhance bitterness and alienation among the Palestinian people. Mr. Arafat could not fulfil his role as the representative of the Palestinian people if he were prevented from doing so. Resolution 1397 represented the only way forward.
The leaders must pull back now and implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, he said. Without restraint and the strongest political will by both sides, efforts by others would remain only hopes in an uncontrollable spiral of violence. An end to the violence was the immediate imperative. Only through political negotiations and a political settlement could both parties learn to live side by side in peace.
BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said the suicide attacks and the attack by the Israeli army showed it was necessary to have a coordinated action on the part of the Council. The Council must reaffirm its devotion to a vision in the region of two States, living side by side within recognized borders.
Security and a political settlement were inseparable, he said. The leaders must respect the ceasefire. He noted the peace plan that had come out of the Arab Summit, which should help bring about a return to the negotiating table.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) associated himself with the statement to be made by Spain for the European Union. The situation was exceptionally grave. He called for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the conclusion of a ceasefire. Chairman Arafat should take measures to end all acts of terror, and Mr. Sharon should put an end to Israeli military action.
Nothing could justify the killing of innocent civilians, he said. As the Secretary-General had said, terrorist attacks were morally repugnant and hateful. The Palestinian Authority could not combat terrorism –- which it must do -- if its capacities were limited. The unbridled use of force and oppression of the person of Yasser Arafat fuelled a ceaseless cycle of violence. The actions begun this morning in Ramallah must cease, and the Israelis must begin their withdrawal. Mr. Arafat must recover his full freedom of movement.
There could be no military solution to the conflict, he stressed. Political negotiations leading to the creation of an independent Palestinian State were the only way to move forward. France had welcomed the statement of the Arab Summit. He called on both parties to practise reason and to pursue peace.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said the situation in the Middle East had clearly gone out of control. It had been stated before that the vicious cycle of unabated violence would only lead to war in the Middle East. The attacks on Israeli civilians and the current Israeli military actions were fast moving the situation to full-scale war. Therefore, the Council must act effectively to bring both sides to their senses.
He condemned all acts of terror, especially against innocent civilians. The recent acts of violence were coming at a time when the proposal of Crown Prince Abdullah had been adopted and offered some light at the end of the tunnel. He wondered whether the actions by Mr. Sharon could and would lead to an end of terrorist activities. The disproportionate use of force and the siege on many cities, instead of curbing acts of terrorism, would, in fact, do the opposite. One could not expect a leader, when he himself was under siege and forced to undergo worst forms of humiliation, to lead his people
Mauritius, he said, was horrified by the acts of violence and called on both sides to exercise maximum restraint and work towards implementation of both the Mitchell and Tenet plans. The decision to isolate Mr. Arafat and the attack on his headquarters was unwise. Such humiliation of Mr. Arafat would have serious repercussions on the peace process and further infuriate the Palestinian people. It was important that Mr. Arafat was strengthened rather than weakened. He remained the only interlocutor with whom Israel could negotiate peace. Both leaders must take the bold step that would bring them back to the peace table. He believed it was time for the Council to consider ways and means to translate the vision of resolution 1397 into reality. He proposed that a group of influential world leaders work with the Secretary-General to consider how to arrive at the establishment of a Palestinian State.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said it was right that the Council should be meeting. The situation was extremely critical. Israelis and Palestinians should benefit from having the views of the Council and the wider membership.
Resolution 1397 had set out the key elements of the way forward. The provisions of that text should be acted upon. Both sides must take action to ensure it became a reality. The way out of the cycle of reprisals and counter-violence was for both parties to move forward via the Mitchell recommendations to achieve the two-State vision. He supported the efforts ongoing to help the two parties, and he urged Israel to respond positively the Arab Summit outcome.
A lasting peace, based on Council resolutions, was attainable, he said. The events of the last few days showed that never had there been a greater need to show restraint on the part of both sides. Only through negotiation would there be peace for the region. The simple fact of geography meant that both sides must live together in peace. Restraint and statesmanship were required.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the Council had taken an important step in adopting resolution 1397, which had contained a number of valuable elements, including an immediate halt to violence. The few optimistic signs of the past few weeks had once again been dashed with the acts of terror of recent days. That terror had brought the situation to its current grave state. Both Israeli and Palestinian hopes for a peaceful future were under attack by that terror. He condemned the acts of terrorism by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the
Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and called on Chairman Arafat to rein in those who perpetuated such terror.
He was gravely concerned over the situation in Ramallah and deplored the killing of innocent Israelis and Palestinians, he said. He understood that Israel had the right to self-defence, but called on Prime Minister Sharon to consider the consequences of his actions. Mr. Arafat would be essential in order to establish any sense of calm. The Security Council, his Government and the international community had endorsed a vision of two States living side by side in peace. That vision must not be destroyed by those bent on violence. The cycle of violence must stop. The United States was pressing both sides in order to bring about a ceasefire.
GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) expressed serious concerns over the recent escalation and noted that the situation was on the brink of a full-scale war. The optimistic steps taken to ensure a ceasefire had not resulted in the desired outcome. He was convinced that all those looking for way out must show maximum political will to avert a further degradation of the situation.
He called on the leadership of the Palestinian Authority to take vigorous steps to put an end to actions of terror and called on the Israeli Government to show restraint and refrain from steps which would further destabilize the situation in the region. The major thrust of peace efforts must remain for both sides to comply with the Mitchell and Tenet plans. Momentum must not be lost, particularly in light of recent achievements, he said. The Council must send a clear signal to both sides and call on them to renew their political dialogue.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said this weekend was one of the world’s holiest; however, instead of celebrations of peace, a high level of violence was being seen. The time had come for the Council and the international community to reflect in a profound fashion on how such a position had been reached.
In real terms, the international community had probably never been closer to achieving a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, he said. Resolution 1397 was clearly a landmark development, and the Saudi Peace Plan had been endorsed in Beirut. Yet, having gone so far, the international community was moving further away from real peace.
He said he was struck by how much more unified the Council had become on the Middle East in recent months. Such a Council should have brought the international community closer to peace, but the fact that a meeting such as this was being held demonstrated how little impact the Council was having on the ground. It must resume its responsibilities. He hoped the voices of reason would have a cumulative effect.
All violence must be condemned, he said. To ensure that message was sent, the international community must not allow the extreme measures of both sides to dictate the way forward. The positive developments should be built on –- they should not be lost. The Council must react and react in a unified fashion to the latest developments. The Secretary-General’s careful and well-balanced statements demonstrated that a middle ground was possible.
ANDRÉS FRANCO (Colombia) said the situation had spun out of control. He emphatically condemned the terrible acts of terror in Netanya and other places, which had resulted in the death of a number of civilians. He also rejected the disproportionate use of force by Israel. Israeli action in Ramallah did not, in any way, contribute to creating the conditions for security and to finding an exit or solution to the spiral of violence. He was deeply convinced that that escalation had fuelled the passions of the extremists. The outcome of the Arab Summit had set out a definitive path for the resolution of the problem.
He referred both sides to the Mitchell and Tenet plans and the recognition the Council had granted them as possible solutions to the problem. Also, resolution 1397 had demonstrated that unity within the Council had a desirable impact on situations. Unfortunately, the positive developments in the political realm had not been enough to end violence or create conditions for security. If the Council was not capable of protecting that political environment, it would be confronted with a situation of unthinkable scope. He joined others in calling on the parties to completely desist from all violence and for Israel to respect the physical integrity of Mr. Arafat and withdraw from the Palestinian-controlled territory.
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) rejected the acts of violence and aggression that had occurred in recent days. Resolution 1397 was quite unambiguous in that regard. The demand for an end to violence had been ignored. That was intolerable. The suicidal acts of Palestinians that had cost the lives of Israelis were repugnant, and nothing could justify them. He believed in the cause of the Palestinians. History had a place for a Palestinian State. However, the vision of two States living side by side could not be manifested by terrorism.
He also supported the right and demand of Israel to live within secure borders. Such borders, however, were not fortified borders -– they should be built on peace and understanding. Nothing justified the disproportionate use of force against the Palestinians. Israel was wrong if it thought it could achieve peace through superior firepower. The two authorities must shoulder the responsibility of moving towards peace. Neither side was complying with the vision of the international community. He joined with the Secretary-General in his appeal to the parties to take the necessary steps to achieve peace.
The recent Arab Summit and the endorsement of the Saudi proposal had revived hopes of building bridges between Arabs and Israelis. He deplored the fact that that effort had not been echoed by the parties. Both parties must make an effort to break out of the cycle of violence. The Council must act with clarity -– it must explore mechanisms that would render its resolutions effective.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that, less than a month ago, the Council had adopted resolution 1397 almost unanimously. Thus, high hopes were born, followed by a certain drop in the level of violence and encouraging signs on the ground, such as the mission of General Zinni and efforts by the European Union and others. There was also the Arab Summit, which had endorsed the plan of Crown Prince Abdullah. However, the enemies of peace finally took the upper hand. Terrorist attacks in Netanya and Jerusalem constituted a victory on the part of the terrorists. He strongly condemned those attacks. As the Secretary-General had stated, those were repugnant acts.
He called on Israel, while acknowledging their right to respond to terror, to show restraint during the current situation. He also called on them not to use violence and to respect the physical integrity and freedom of movement of Chairman Arafat, who remained the interlocutor for the entire political process. In the current circumstances, he said the watchword for both sides had to be restraint. The Tenet plan and the Mitchell recommendations were the way to resolve the current crisis. He was prepared to work for the unity of the Council on the question of the Middle East because unity alone could provide a lasting peace for the Middle East
WANG YINGFAN (China) said the conflict in the Middle East had escalated, and the situation had seriously deteriorated. He condemned the suicidal acts against Israeli civilians, which ran counter to the aspirations of the Palestinians for peace. The massive military offensives against the Palestinians were even more alarming. Such actions were no different than a declaration of war against the Palestinians. Destroying the Palestinians would not bring peace, as the Secretary-General had said. He condemned the aggression of Israel and called on it to withdraw. Countering violence with violence would only lead to an escalation of hatred and fuel tensions.
The Arab Summit peace plan was to be appreciated, he said. The international community should take advantage of that new opportunity for peace. The United Nations, in particular the Council, should play a more active role. Peace must be restored to the region. Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002) must be implemented. He called on the parties to exercise utmost restraint.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that resolution 1397 (2002) was historic. It contained a vision of two States living side by side within secure and recognized borders, and called for the implementation of the Tenet plan and the Mitchell recommendations. His delegation had fully supported that resolution and great hopes had been placed on it. Unfortunately, the situation in the field now diverted away from the spirit of that resolution.
All hopes had been dashed, he said, as a result of the acts of reprisal currently in the region. It was clear that terrorism could never be accepted. He reaffirmed his condemnation of acts of terrorism, especially when committed against civilians. He urged both sides to resume negotiations to resolve the problem. Peace in the Middle East meant the creation of the State of Palestine and the recognition of Israel and its right to exist within secure borders. It involved the strict implementation of resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002), as well as implementation of the fundamental principle of land for peace. Those were the conditions for a just and lasting peace. In light of the deteriorating situation, the Council must move as never before, abandon its deafening silence, and call for the implementation of 1397 as soon as possible.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said many Palestinians had been killed, and the President of the Palestinian Authority had been attacked in his own headquarters. The immediate response of the Council -– the current meeting -– bore witness to the international community’s preoccupation with studying the acts of violence of the Israeli Government. He hoped the meeting would provide another opportunity to examine the wounds of the Palestinian people.
This was not the first act of aggression on the part of the Israeli Government, he said. It was one of many. If it was to condemn terrorism, the Council must also condemn terrorism perpetrated by Israel. That terrorism was the occupation of Palestinian land and the oppression of its people. Those who referred to Mr. Sharon’s willingness to find peace were speaking about an illusion. He had never tried to cover up his real intentions. He had no intention of withdrawing from the occupied land.
Mr. Sharon today was leading a policy of terror and assassination, he said. This could be seen on television and in the press. The Israelis had killed 1,300 innocent Palestinians. That was extermination –- it was genocide against the Palestinian people. Calling someone an enemy meant this was a person one could kill. The Council must condemn such acts, just as it had condemned other war criminals in other contexts.
A lesson must be drawn from the massacres carried out against the Palestinians, he said. Israeli terrorism was the most comprehensive form of terrorism with which he was familiar. Arabs, as a whole, condemned terrorism. The Council must appeal for an end to the Israeli acts of barbarism. It must order Israel to withdraw immediately. Resolutions that did not make a distinction between the aggressor and the victim could only lead to more suffering, he stressed. Israel must respect international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in time of war.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway), speaking in his national capacity, said the peace process in the Middle East was facing its most serious crisis ever. He was deeply concerned over the dramatic escalation in violence in recent days and strongly condemned the Palestinian terrorist attacks. No society could live with suicide attacks committed on the levels seen. The Palestinian Authority must fight terrorism and dismantle the terrorist networks. In addition, the Israeli bombardment of Palestinian institutions was unacceptable. He strongly objected to
Israel’s military operation against Mr. Arafat’s headquarters. He failed to see how that could contribute to greater security.
Both parties, he said, must adopt immediate measures to stop the escalating violence. The Palestinian Authority should do its utmost to halt terrorist attacks. Israel must halt its ongoing military action against Arafat’s headquarters and stop its incursions into Area A. A serious political dialogue must be pursued immediately, and the Tenet plan and Mitchell recommendations must be implemented unconditionally. The international community and the Council must stand united in its demand that those conditions be met.
The final responsibility to end hostilities remained with the parties themselves, he said. At the same time, the Council must assist the parties, and Norway stood ready to contribute. The aim of Oslo was to end the occupation and ensure security for Israel -- that could still be achieved. In that regard, he welcomed the initiative of Crown Prince Abdullah.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that the day after the Beirut Summit, Israel had responded in the only language it knew -- with mindless violence. Currently, scores of tanks and soldiers were marching through Ramallah bringing death and destruction. Tanks had penetrated right to the heart of Mr. Arafat’s residence. The life of President Arafat was now seriously threatened. Though his freedom of movement was currently being denied, his moral authority among his people had never been greater. He was being asked to control the legitimate uprising of his people even while under siege.
The Middle East was now closer than ever before to the brink of war, he said. The international community must stop being a passive observer of violence in the Middle East before the region lapsed into full-scale war. It was imperative for the Council to involve itself directly by calling for the immediate cessation of Israeli aggression, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian controlled territory, and by deploying international observers. It must also call on Israel to respect the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and call for the immediate implementation of the Tenet and Mitchell plans. There was no alternative to going back to the negotiating table.
RAMADAN A. BARG (Libya) said he hoped tonight’s meeting would live up to the seriousness of the events ongoing in the Middle East. The world had been concerned by the developments in the region since dawn today, in particular in Ramallah, which had been completely taken over by the Israelis. The Arab Summit had affirmed that peace was the vision of the Arab people –- and this was how Israel responded. All that was left now was war.
The direct attacks on Mr. Arafat and the arrival of tanks in his headquarters showed that Mr. Sharon’s policy was based on aggression. He strongly condemned the attack, which would lead to further blood being spilled. The international community must strongly condemn the danger threatening the entire region. Such criminal behaviour must be attributed to the Zionist entity and all the powers that allowed it to carry out its actions. The Council must act in keeping with its responsibilities.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) expressed anger over the arbitrary behaviour of the Israeli Government, which reflected its inability to see reality. It would only lead to more confrontation and more loss of innocent lives, both Palestinian and Israeli. The Israeli troops were carrying out military action in Ramallah, which reflected the narrow vision of the Israeli leadership. The problem was one of occupation and only occupation. That occupation caused all the suffering for both Palestinians and Israelis. Egypt condemned all acts of violence that led to the loss of innocent lives. He also condemned, as well, all reckless operations and blind use of force.
Egypt demanded that the Council assume its responsibility under the Charter and send a clear message, including the following, he said. First, it must call on Israel not to attack in any form or any manner the legitimate Palestinian leadership, represented by Chairman Arafat. Second, it must demand that Israel withdraw immediately from all territories it had entered. Third, it must call on both parties to commit themselves to the implementation of the Tenet and Mitchell plans and respond to international efforts with a view to moving into negotiations. He reiterated that armed action would not achieve security for Israel. The objective all parties must work to achieve was to end Israeli occupation, establish a Palestinian State with its capital in East Jerusalem, and establish good relations between two States with secure borders.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said the Council was meeting at one of the most critical stages of the peace process. The Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and the targeting of Mr. Arafat represented serious violations of international norms. The Israeli Government was wrong if it believed that State terrorism against the Palestinians would obtain its security. The peace initiative that had come out of the Arab Summit had received support from around the world. The Israeli attack ran counter to the concept of international legitimacy.
He asked the sages of the Israelis to use reason and logic to save the region from further bloodshed. Violence could only create more violence. He called on the Council to take steps to secure: the withdrawal of the Israelis; an unconditional return to the negotiating table; and the immediate implementation of all agreements with a view to putting an end to the Israeli occupation of all Arab territories, making possible the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.
ROBLE OLHAYE (Djibouti) said that before the Arab League had concluded its business, Israeli tanks were already at the gate of Chairman Arafat’s residence. Ironically, at the same time, he was ready to make a declaration of commitment to a ceasefire. There was not the least cause for optimism now. No one condoned violence, and he had repeatedly condemned attacks on civilians. However, it was unacceptable to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Arafat for the actions of all Palestinians who were responding to the occupation. Thirty-seven years had elapsed since the occupation of the Palestinians, and they were continuously asked to be patient. That was the unfortunate situation in which they still found themselves today.
By negating the Oslo peace accords, Mr. Sharon seemed determined to bury Palestinian aspirations for good. He called on Israel to respect international norms, and desist from harming Arafat and from any further aggression. For the Council to do nothing would be to regress from its responsibilities under the Charter. He called on Israel to heed the merits of the Mitchell report and the Tenet plan, as well as the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General. It was inconceivable that the international community would stand idle as the “theatre of the absurd” continued to unfold before its eyes.
INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria and Romania, urged an end to the attack against the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and called for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli defence forces from that city. He reiterated the need for an immediate application of a ceasefire taking only into account the conditions already envisaged in the Tenet plan and those expressed by the United States Special Envoy, Mr. Zinni, which should be the basis of an agreement without delay between the parties. The resolution of the Arab Summit was a solid basis for progress towards a fair peace in the region and the establishment of normal relations between Israel and the Arab world, safeguarding the security of all countries involved and offering them a future of stability and prosperity, he said.
The indiscriminate terrorist attacks today and over the past days and weeks killing and injuring innocent civilians must be condemned, he said. The Palestinian Authority bore the full responsibility for fighting terrorism with all the legitimate means at its disposal. It must do everything possible to put an end to terrorism, dismantle all terrorist networks, and arrest terrorists. Its capacity to do so must not be weakened. Israel, notwithstanding its right to fight terrorism, must immediately withdraw its military forces from areas placed under the control of the Palestinian Authority; stop extra-judicial killings; lift the closures and restrictions; freeze settlements; and respect international law.
He remained convinced that a third party-monitoring mechanism would help both parties to pursue their efforts. He urged them to consider proposals to accept observers. The European Union and its member States were prepared to participate in such a mechanism.
Prince ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan), for the Arab Group, said the Summit in Beirut had adopted a new initiative based on specific proposals put forward by Crown Prince Abudullah, which reflected the readiness of the Arab League to establish normal relations with Israel in return for a complete withdrawal and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State. He believed in the great importance of such a decision, which represented an opportunity to resolve the situation.
However, Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people continued, particularly in Ramallah, he said. It was evident that the aggression being carried out would not bring security to Israel and represented a flagrant violation of the agreements signed by the two parties and the norms of international law. He condemned those acts, as well as the targeting of civilians on both sides. The Council must uphold its responsibility by calling on Israel to withdraw and fulfil its commitments. Israel should be called on to fully implement the relevant Council resolutions.
ABDUL MUNIM AL-KADHE (Iraq) said that once again the Zionist entity was showing its true face, showing it was a racist and intrinsically Nazi entity. It embodied the very concept of State terrorism. The policy pursued by the Zionist entity sought to demoralize the Palestinian people and destroy the very symbol of the Palestinian cause. It sought to carry out its territorial expansionist policy to the detriment of the Palestinian people.
Would the Council be able to discharge its mission? he asked. He had lost hope because he knew the Council was dominated by the State that protected the Zionist entity and obstructed adoption of any resolution by the Council. At the very least, that State would urge the adoption of a resolution that was weaker than desired.
The Zionist entity continued to flout Council resolutions, he continued. The war crimes committed by the entity against the Palestinian people were further proof of that. Would the international community be able to prevent the entity from continuing its crimes? He appealed to the Council, the international community and all freedom-loving people to strongly condemn those acts and force that entity to comply with international law and withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.
HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said the rejection by the Israelis of the latest peace initiative put forward by the Arab States clearly proved that peace was not on the Israeli agenda. There should be no doubt that, by embarking on a large-scale invasion of civilian areas just a day after the Arab Summit, the Israelis clearly meant to signal their opposition to any serious effort towards peace.
There was no escaping the fact that occupation lay at the origin of the whole trouble and instability in the region, he said. The Israeli regime simply could not continue with the occupation of the Arab lands, be they Palestinian, Syrian or Lebanese, on the one hand, and hope to ensure security by resorting to repression and aggression, on the other.
International public opinion was outraged at the ongoing atrocious military operations by Israeli troops against the Palestinians, he said. The international community expected the Council to live up to its obligations under the United Nations Charter, address the situation effectively, and deal appropriately with the crimes perpetrated by the Israeli regime.
SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said that only weeks ago the Council had reaffirmed the vision of a lasting peace in the Middle East. That vision had been blurred by the events of the last 24 hours, showing how precarious the situation in the region had become. The Arab Summit had proposed the best opportunity to move back from the brink of destruction. The Beirut Declaration was a message of hope and reconciliation.
Today, the response of Israel could be seen in the form of belligerence and intransigence, he said. The headquarters of an elected leader was being systematically taken apart with violence and bloodshed. Was that the response that the Beirut Declaration merited? The Palestine issue was not confined to Ramallah. Recent events were linked to a sense of injustice and desperation. Why would high school girls with bright futures ahead of them opt to sacrifice their lives? Why were the Palestinians, one after another, becoming suicidal?
Was the international community so blind that it did not see the obvious reasons for what was happening? he asked. The Council must act today, if not for its own credibility, then for preventing the current crisis from erupting into full-scale war. If nothing was done urgently, the consequences would be unimaginable. It was unfortunate that the present crisis came in the same month in which the hopes of peace were being revived.
It was regrettable that bold and imaginative initiatives for peace were being thwarted under the crushing roll of tanks, he said. Israel’s reoccupation of Palestinian territories constituted a serious threat to regional peace and security. He called on the international community, especially the Council, to urge Israel to immediately halt its attacks on the Palestinian Authority and resume negotiations. The objective should be attaining a final peace settlement in the Middle East and not just obtaining a ceasefire.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said the Palestinian territories had been reoccupied, and a war had been unleashed against the Palestinians and their leader, Yasser Arafat. The attacks and the direct occupation of the Palestinian Authority headquarters demonstrated that Mr. Sharon’s Government refused peace, precisely when the Arab States were holding out an offer of global peace.
The reoccupation of the territories was tantamount to State terrorism, he said. To put an end to the looming threat, all Israeli forces must withdraw. The siege against Mr. Arafat must be lifted immediately and without conditions. Talks must be started to find a solution to the security situation. The Palestinians had demonstrated their willingness to seek peace based on the relevant agreements.
He appealed to members of the international community to shoulder their responsibilities and use their influence to put an end to the Israeli campaign of aggression. The security of the Palestinian people and of Mr. Arafat must be assured. He appealed to the Council to speak firmly about this extremely urgent and serious situation.
MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said that Israeli actions today could not be met by silence on the part of the Council. It was not enough for Israel to put the Palestinian President under siege for almost four months or prevent him from attending the Arab Summit -- it sent its tanks to attack the headquarters of Chairman Arafat and destroy a large part of it. Those acts of aggression against the symbol of the Palestinian State had uncovered the real face of the current Israeli Government. An act of that kind could not bring Israel closer to peace. On the contrary, it would bring the region closer to war. Those acts by Israel, only one day after the Arab Summit had adopted a peace initiative, were a reflection of the Israeli Government’s continued efforts to kill the peace process in the Middle East.
The international community, particularly Arab and Islamic countries, looked forward with hope for the Council to adopt a resolution that would be commensurate with the critical situation in the region. He hoped he would not be disappointed in that regard. The international community must show a courageous sign that reflected real will to put end to the cycle of violence. That must be done by the party which possessed the largest military force in the region -- Israel. He expected the Council to demand that Israel stop its aggression, withdraw from Palestinian territories it had reoccupied, and recommit itself to agreed principles. It was necessary, as soon as possible, to return to the negotiating table.
MEHMET UMIT PAMIR (Turkey) aligned himself with the statement made for the European Union. He was increasingly worried about the cycle of violence. He condemned all acts of terror and said he was horrified by the images of civilians in “baths of blood”. He also condemned the recent killing of a Turkish citizen in the occupied territories and called for an investigation.
All acts of violence must cease, if resolution 1397 was to be implemented, he said. Chairman Arafat was the leader of the Palestinians and was, therefore, the legitimate interlocutor with the Israelis. Chairman Arafat becoming a martyr would not serve any purpose; the siege of his headquarters should be lifted.
He welcomed the statement that the road of peace could be walked together. Israel should show restraint and heed the calls of the international community. Every passing day showed the inherent values of the Mitchell report and the Tenet plan. Turkey was ready to contribute to peace in any way it could. Both parties knew which road they should take and how to assure hope.
ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said that once again the Council was meeting to examine the deplorable consequences of a conflict that had existed for decades. The escalation of violence had entered unprecedented levels -- from house arrest to aggression against the leader of the Palestinian people. How much longer would the Council shirk its responsibility under the Charter? The attitude of the Council in relation to the situation in the Middle East manifested itself not only in the actions it took, but also in its failure to act.
How many more deaths were needed before the Council put a stop to the cycle of violence? he asked. He reiterated the need for a protection force to monitor a ceasefire in the area. He expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and their cause. Also, he condemned any attacks on innocent civilians and, in particular, the way in which they were being used to justify the disproportionate use of force. He demanded the full respect of the physical integrity of Chairman Arafat, an immediate ceasefire, and the re-establishment of power and communications to Chairman Arafat’s offices. Presidential statements were not enough nor were hollow promises that were never met. The Council must act in a firm and decisive manner and discharge its obligations.
FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said the situation was worsening by the hour. Blood was being shed, and innocent people were being killed. The Council must intervene to stop the violence and killing. It should call for an immediate withdrawal of the Israelis. Israeli aggression would not stop the violence or solve the problem. The question of the Middle East stemmed from the illegal occupation of Arab territories. A resolution to the crisis must, therefore, involve a political solution that would envision a full withdrawal of the Israelis from all Arab territories, as stated for in the relevant agreements.
Crown Prince Abdullah’s initiative, adopted at the Arab Summit, had been welcomed by all countries, he said. The Summit had affirmed the Arab aspiration to live in amity and to establish normal relations with Israel, following a full Israeli withdrawal, the establishment of a Palestinian State and a solution to the situation of the refugees. The Crown Prince had affirmed at the Summit that Israel was making a most serious mistake if it thought it could impose an unjust peace upon the Arabs by force of arms. No peace based on oppression could survive. The concept of land for peace was the basis for any peace in the region, as affirmed in all the relevant resolutions. He called on the Council to assume its responsibilities and help stop Israeli violence.
A. GOPINATHAN (India) said the Council was meeting in extraordinary circumstances. Only a fortnight ago, the Council had expressed the will of the international community. And only yesterday, the Arab League had adopted a peace plan, which would have provided an impetus to the peace process.
Today, the situation seemed to have moved far away from that vision, he said. The intensification of violence in the region was of deepest concern. He called for an end to the violence and a return to the peace process. President Arafat continued to represent the embodiment of Palestinian statehood. He did not see how aggression against Chairman Arafat could lead to a cessation of violence and bring about security for Israel. He called on the Council to express the collective will of the international community for an immediate resumption of dialogue between the two parties.
Mr. AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, expressed his official condolences to the Governments of Turkey and Switzerland for the passing away of two members of the interim forces. He greatly appreciated the efforts of all the individuals in that group and strongly condemned the killing, which he believed had been committed by the Israeli army. However, he welcomed an international investigation into the event.
The meeting suspended at 10:55 p.m.
The Council resumed its deliberations at 4:25 a.m., Saturday, 30 March.
Mr. KOLBY (Norway), Council President, said it was the common understanding of the members that operative paragraph 1 of the draft before the Council did not indicate any sequence of the elements listed.
The Council then adopted the text by a vote of 14 in favor to none opposed.
Mr. LANCRY (Israel) said the appeal contained in the resolution for an immediate ceasefire, implementation of the Tenet plan and cooperation with General Zinni were positive elements, and he welcomed them. Having said that, the appeal to Israel that it withdrew without a similar appeal to the Palestinians to put an end to the suicide attacks and to destroy the terrorist infrastructure could not be supported by his delegation.
The resolution in no way reflected the spirit of resolution 1397 (2002), because there was no hint of the measures that must be taken by the Palestinian Authority to eradicate the terrorist network. He deplored the fact that it had been handled in such a manner. He reiterated his Government’s resolution to cooperate with General Zinni.
Mr. AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, reiterated his thanks to Council members for their prompt response to consider the seriously deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories. He also reiterated his thanks to the Secretary-General for his important and useful contributions to the work of the
Council today. He appreciated the seriousness with which the Council considered the Arab draft submitted during consultations. Resolution 1402 was an important step that could represent a positive contribution to stemming the deterioration and realizing the desired objectives, particularly the Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian towns.
He had hoped for a stronger text than the one adopted today. Also, he had hoped that things would have taken a different course. The Palestinian side would abide by the provisions of the resolution and called on Israel to declare a similar position with a view to the immediate implementation of that resolution. Most regrettably, the Council had just listened to a negative position that was not new on the part of Israel, a position that constituted a new challenge by the forces of occupation to the Council.
Mr. WEHBE (Syria) said the Arab summit had adopted a peace initiative in accordance with international agreements. He had had great hope that the Council would take that historic agreement into consideration. The text before the Council was only a repetition of resolution 1397, from which his delegation had abstained. The Arab Summit text had dealt with the peace process in total. Consequently, he had thought the Council must deal with that text if there was to be any serious attempt to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.
The Arab Summit text had affirmed the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, which his delegation had supported. Dealing with such a serious matter in such haste was not a practice that should be followed by the Council. The current text was selective and did not condemn the attacks by the Israelis. It linked withdrawal of the Israelis to a ceasefire by the Palestinians. Consequently, the text treated the aggressors and victims equally. There was no condemnation of the Israeli terrorism. This text did not even deal with minimum aspirations of the Arab Group and did not deal with the explosive situation in the region. That was why his delegation had not taken part in the voting.
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