GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEMANDS IMMEDIATE END TO MILITARY INCURSIONS, VIOLENCE AND TERROR IN MIDDLE EAST
GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEMANDS IMMEDIATE END TO MILITARY INCURSIONS, VIOLENCE AND TERROR IN MIDDLE EAST
General Assembly Plenary
Resumed Tenth Emergency Special Session
18th and 19th Meetings (AM & PM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEMANDS IMMEDIATE END TO MILITARY INCURSIONS,
VIOLENCE AND TERROR IN MIDDLE EAST
Adopts Resolution by Vote of 114 in Favour, 4 Against, 11 Abstentions
Taking note of the Secretary-General’s report on the events that took place in Jenin and other Palestinian cities in the period beginning in March to 7 May, the General Assembly this evening demanded the immediate cessation of military incursions and all acts of violence, terror, provocation, incitement and destruction in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Assembly took that action by a vote of 114 in favour to 4 against (Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with 11 abstentions, as it resumed its tenth emergency session to consider illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, following the release of the Secretary-General’s report .
Also by the text, the Assembly demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from Palestinian population centres towards the return to the positions held prior to September 2000.
Further, the Assembly called for urgently needed assistance and services to help in alleviating the current dire humanitarian situation facing the Palestinian people and to assist in rebuilding and revitalizing the Palestinian economy. It expressed support for efforts in the reconstruction of the Palestinian Authority, the reform of Palestinian institutions and the holding of democratic and free elections.
In addition, the Assembly stressed the need for all concerned parties to ensure the safety of civilians, and to respect the universally accepted norms of international humanitarian law. It also emphasized the urgency of ensuring that medical and humanitarian organizations were granted unhindered access to the Palestinian civilian population at all times.
The Assembly’s action followed a day-long discussion of the Secretary-General’s report, prepared on the basis of Assembly resolution A/ES-10/10, adopted on 7 May, in which the Secretary-General was requested to present a report, drawing upon the available resources and information, on events that took place in Jenin and other Palestinian cities. The Assembly requested the report following
the disbandment of the United Nations fact-finding team that had been convened by the Secretary-General in response to Security Council resolution 1405 (2002).
18th and 19th Meetings (AM & PM)
During the discussion, Israel’s representative stressed that the report was explicitly clear: there had been no massacre in Jenin. The shocking and libelous accusations that had led to the last emergency session, and the virtually endless Security Council meetings had been nothing more than propaganda. The report confirmed what Israel had stated throughout -- there had been a harsh battle between terrorists seeking to continue a bloody wave of terrorist attacks and Israeli forces trying to prevent them from succeeding.
The Observer for Palestine said that despite the report’s shortcomings, it provided further confirmation of the fact that the Israeli occupying forces had committed war crimes, atrocities and other serious violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention against the Palestinian people. In light of such crimes, direct responsibility fell on the shoulders of the international community to take measures against the perpetrators. It must also be borne in mind that the situation on the ground had become even worse since the period covered by the report.
Also speaking today, the representative of the United States said the Secretary-General’s report put to rest the central falsehood of a “massacre” propagated by some Palestinian officials last spring. The most important part of the report was the call for a constructive look to the future to prevent further bloodshed, address real humanitarian needs and move towards a negotiated political settlement. By contrast, today’s resolution, purporting to reflect the Secretary-General’s report, made no effort to provide a fair presentation of the context of the current violence in the Middle East.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, Denmark’s representative said that, above all, the Secretary-General's report painted a picture of human suffering and clearly illustrated that there was no military solution to the conflict. The Union shared fully the view that the events described in the report, as well as the ongoing cycle of violence and the continuing deterioration of the situation, demonstrated the urgent need for the parties to resume a process that would lead back to the negotiating table.
The representative of the Russian Federation called on both sides to stop the bloodletting, avoid using terrorist actions and try to follow up on initiatives taken. Both sides should do their utmost to stop violence and bring about a situation in which the peace process could move forward. It was necessary to see how a viable Palestine could be brought about and how both societies could live in peace. Progress in the field of reforms and security in humanitarian areas should be carried out together.
Speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Senegal’s representative said that, if left to themselves, Israelis and Palestinians would never be able to extricate themselves from the cycle of violence. He called on the international community to shoulder its responsibility and intervene more resolutely by, among other things, creating a multinational presence in the area.
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18th and 19th Meetings (AM & PM)
Others speaking today included the representatives of China, Libya, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Bahrain, Sudan, Syria, Norway, Cuba, Iraq, India, Jordan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Singapore, Iran, Egypt, Republic of Korea, Bangladesh, Thailand, Chile, South Africa (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Morocco, Costa Rica (on behalf of the Rio Group), Turkey, Namibia and Mauritius.
The observers for the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference also spoke.
Speaking in explanations of vote were the representatives of Canada, Israel, Australia, Denmark (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Guatemala, Peru and Paraguay.
The Observer for Palestine also made a statement after the vote.
The next meeting of the Assembly will be announced.
The General Assembly resumed its tenth emergency special session this morning to consider illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory. The delegations of Oman (on behalf of the Arab Group) and South Africa requested the Assembly to take up the matter again upon the release of the Secretary-General’s report on the town of Jenin.
The tenth emergency special session dates back to 1997 when Israel began construction of a new settlement south of East Jerusalem. The Security Council met twice on the issue, but failed to adopt two resolutions. Using the “Uniting for Peace” formula, a special emergency session of the General Assembly was convened in April and again in July and November of 1997. It also resumed in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. On 20 December 2001, resolution A/RES/ES-10/8 on the issue was adopted with 124 in favour, 6 against and 25 abstentions. Another resolution on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions was adopted with 133 in favour,
4 against and 16 abstentions.
Reconvening on 7 May 2002 following the disbandment of the Jenin team, the tenth emergency session heard 35 speakers and saw the adoption of General Assembly resolution A/ES-10/10 which, among other things, requested the Secretary-General to present a report on the events that took place in Jenin and other Palestinian cities. That resolution was adopted with 74 in favour, 4 against and
In commenting on the release of the current report, the Secretary-General noted that it had been based on information in the public domain. “While some of the facts may be in dispute”, he said, “I think it is clear that the Palestinian population have suffered, and are suffering, the humanitarian consequences of which are very severe.” He expressed the hope that both parties would “draw the right lessons from this tragic episode and take steps to end the cycle of violence, which is killing innocent civilians on both sides”.
Security Council Resolution 1405 (2002)
On 19 April 2002, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1405 (2002), in which it welcomed the Secretary-General's initiative to develop accurate information regarding recent events in the Jenin refugee camp through a fact-finding team. That resolution was tabled in the Council by the delegation of the United States following telephone conversations the Secretary-General had with Israel's Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers at their initiative, during which he was assured that Israel would cooperate fully with the team that would be designated. Pursuant to resolution 1405 (2002), the Secretary-General established a fact-finding team on 22 April 2002.
In addition, the team was provided with technical expertise in military, security and counter-terrorism issues, as well as forensic science and general support staff. The team gathered at Geneva and began to prepare a work plan based on three elements: (a) events in Jenin in the period immediately prior to Israel's military operation; (b) the battle in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield; and (c) efforts by humanitarian workers to gain access to the civilian population in Jenin after the end of hostilities. After the appointment of the team, the Government of Israel raised a number of concerns regarding the work of the team that made its timely deployment impossible and led the Secretary-General to disband the team.
Summary of Report
The report (document A/ES-10/186) was prepared on the basis of Assembly resolution A/ES-10/10 adopted on 7 May 2002, in which the Secretary-General was requested, following the disbandment of the fact-finding team, to present a report drawing upon the available resources and information on the recent events that took place in Jenin and other Palestinian cities.
Written without a visit to Jenin or the other Palestinian cities in question, the report relies completely on available resources and information, including submissions from five United Nations Member States and Observer Missions, documents in the public domain and papers submitted by non-governmental organizations. The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs wrote to the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, requesting them to submit information, but only the latter did so. In the absence of a response from Israel, the United Nations has relied on public statements of Israeli officials and publicly available documents of the Government of Israel relevant to the request in resolution ES-10/10.
Covering the period from approximately the beginning of March to 7 May 2002, the report sets out the context and background of the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, including the security, humanitarian and human rights responsibilities of both parties. It briefly charts the rising violence since September 2000, which by 7 May 2002 had caused the deaths of 441 Israelis and 1,539 Palestinians.
The report describes the pattern of attacks carried out by Palestinian armed groups against Israel operating from the West Bank and Israel's military action during Operation Defensive Shield, which began on 29 March with an incursion into Ramallah, followed by entry into Tulkarm and Qalqilya on 1 April, Bethlehem on
2 April, and Jenin and Nablus on 3 April. By 3 April, six of the largest cities in the West Bank, and their surrounding towns, villages and refugee camps, had been occupied by the Israeli military. Operation Defensive Shield was characterized by extensive curfews on civilian populations and restrictions, including occasional prohibitions on the movement of international personnel, humanitarian and medical personnel, as well as human rights monitors and journalists.
In many instances, the report notes, humanitarian workers were not able to reach people in need. Combatants on both sides conducted themselves in ways that, at times, placed civilians in harm's way. Much of the fighting during Operation Defensive Shield occurred in areas heavily populated by civilians and, in many cases, heavy weaponry was used. As a result of those practices, the populations of the cities covered in the report suffered severe hardships. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) announced the official end of the operation on 21 April, but its consequences lasted until the end of the period under review and beyond.
The report describes the concerns of the Israeli Government that a number of the cities served as bases for Palestinian terrorists and their attacks against Israel. It also points out that Palestinian groups are alleged to have widely booby-trapped civilian homes -- acts which targeted IDF personnel, but also placed civilians in danger. It quotes the Palestinian Authority as acknowledging that a number of Palestinian fighters resisted the Israeli military assault.
On the other hand, the report refers to allegations by the Palestinian Authority and human rights organizations that in the course of its operations the IDF engaged in unlawful killings, the use of human shields, disproportionate use of force, arbitrary arrests and torture and denial of medical treatment and access. In part, it points to the fact that more than 2,800 refugee housing units were damaged and 878 homes were destroyed, leaving more than 17,000 people homeless or in need of shelter rehabilitation. It also cites cases in which Israeli forces attacked ambulances or otherwise failed to respect the neutrality of medical and humanitarian workers.
As for the death toll, the findings show that the IDF lost 30 soldiers during Operation Defensive Shield. During the reviewed period, Israel also endured some 16 bombings, the majority of them suicide attacks, resulting in the deaths of 100 persons and injuries to scores of others. On the Palestinian
side, 497 people were killed and 1,447 wounded in the course of the IDF reoccupation of Palestinian areas from 1 March through 7 May and in the immediate aftermath.
Most accounts estimate that between 70 and 80 Palestinians, including about 50 civilians, were killed in Nablus, where four IDF soldiers lost their lives. In Jenin, by the time of the IDF's withdrawal and the lifting of the curfew on
18 April, at least 52 Palestinians, possibly half of them civilians, and
23 Israeli soldiers were dead. Allegations by a senior Palestinian Authority official that some 500 were killed in Jenin have not been substantiated in the light of the evidence that has emerged.
As for the overall impact, the report says, the events continue to have tangible repercussions, resulting in the sharp intensification of the hardships faced by the civilian population in the occupied Palestinian territory. There has been a near complete cessation of all productive activity in the main West Bank centres of manufacturing, construction, commerce and private and public services, exacerbating the severe decline in living standards over the last 18 months. Of particular concern is the use, by combatants on both sides, of violence that placed civilians in harm's way.
Much of the fighting during Operation Defensive Shield occurred in areas heavily populated by civilians, in large part because the armed Palestinian groups sought by IDF placed their combatants and installations among civilians. Palestinian groups are alleged to have widely booby-trapped civilian homes, acts targeted at IDF personnel, but also putting civilians in danger. The IDF is reported to have used bulldozers, tank shelling and rocket firing, at times from helicopters, in populated areas.
In his observations, the Secretary-General shares the assessment of former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and his fact-finding team that a full and comprehensive report on recent events in Jenin, as well as in other Palestinian cities, could not be made without the full cooperation of both parties and a visit to the area. He, therefore, would not wish to go beyond the very limited findings of facts, which are set out in the body of the text. But he was, nevertheless, confident that the picture painted in the report is a fair representation of a complex reality. He notes that the events described in the report, the continuing deterioration of the situation and the ongoing cycle of violence demonstrate the urgent need for the parties to resume a process that would lead back to the negotiating table.
According to the report, there is very wide support in the international community for a solution in which two States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders, as called for by the Security Council in resolution 1397 (2002). The Secretary-General believes that the international community has a compelling responsibility to intensify its efforts to find a peaceful and durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as a key element in the search for a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement in the Middle East based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
The Assembly also had before today a draft resolution sponsored by Egypt, Qatar, Sudan and Palestine, on Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory (document A/ES-10/L.10). By that text, the Assembly would express its deep concern at the more recent occupation of Palestinian cities and other populated centres by the Israeli occupying forces and the destruction of the institutions of the Palestinian Authority.
Welcoming the recently established international consensus on the two-State solution and the need for the establishment of the State of Palestine, the text would have the Assembly condemn the atrocities committed by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians in Jenin and other Palestinian cities, including unlawful killings, use of human shields, disproportionate use of force and denial of medical treatment, some of which constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The text would have the Assembly demand the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from Palestinian cities and other populated centres towards the return to the positions held prior to September 2000, which would open the way to meaningful political dialogue. It would also demand the complete cessation of violence, including military actions, destruction and acts of terror against civilians.
Further by the draft, the Assembly would emphasize the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians in the Middle-East region, as well as the responsibilities under article 29 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It would also have the Assembly stress the need for necessary and appropriate action against the violators of international humanitarian law, in particular, perpetrators of war crimes.
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said the full facts had not been revealed, including some specific questions, about what happened in the Jenin camp. A real, direct investigation remained necessary in order to reveal the whole truth. In addition, the report only addressed the specific period from March to 7 May. An accurate and thorough understanding required the placing of the situation in the context of everything that the occupying Power had been doing before and after that period.
Despite the report’s shortcomings, he said, it provided further confirmation of the fact that the Israeli occupying forces had committed war crimes, atrocities and other serious violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention against the Palestinian people. In light of such crimes, direct responsibility fell on the shoulders of the international community to take measures against the perpetrators. It must also be borne in mind that the situation on the ground had become even worse since the period covered by the report.
The Israeli occupying forces continued with yet another wave of invasion
and reoccupation of most Palestinian cities and population centres in the occupied West Bank, he said. As of today, since September 2000, more than 1,710 Palestinians -- men, women and children -- had been killed in military attacks. Thousands more had been injured, disabled and rendered homeless. Currently, nearly 50 per cent of the Palestinian population lived below the poverty line, and malnutrition among Palestinian children was rapidly increasing.
He reiterated that the situation was one of foreign occupation, in which the occupying Power had actively sought to colonize the land to serve its expansionist designs. Any attempt to even partially conceal that fact and to find a pretext to absolve the Israeli side from its responsibilities in that regard would never succeed.
The Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian leadership, he said, had taken a clear position against suicide bombings as undermining the national interest of the Palestinian people. Acts of resistance by Palestinians in the occupied territory against the Israeli occupation were legitimate under international law, incomparable with acts targeting Israeli civilians in Israel itself. Ending the prevailing tragedy could most rapidly be achieved by ending the occupation.
What was needed now, he said, was a detailed road map and timeline leading to the establishment of an independent Palestine. The internal Palestinian situation would always remain the domain of the Palestinian people themselves to deal with. Any initiatives or plans that would exempt the Israeli side from taking specific actions up front and from adopting different policies than were currently being pursued would only serve to provide further cover for even more destructive Israeli actions.
He reiterated that a comprehensive approach to the situation meant not only dealing with the political, economic and security issues simultaneously, but also an agreement on a final outcome from the start. Clearly, an international presence, such as observers or even a more bold and appropriate proposal such as that made by the Secretary-General for a credible and robust multinational force, was needed and could genuinely contribute to efforts to stabilize the situation and work towards a peaceful, final settlement.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that in recent days, while the international community had been extending every effort to help relax the tensions in the Middle East, the conflict was still escalating. The Israeli side had launched missiles on Palestinian sites, while suicide bombings against Israeli sites had persisted. Therefore, it was absolutely necessary to call for a resumption of the special session today. China had carefully studied the Secretary-General's report and regretted that the obstruction by the Israeli authorities had forced him to disband the fact-finding mission to Jenin. The United Nations had, therefore, lost the opportunity to review the situation first-hand.
He emphasized that the crux of the continuing Palestinian-Israeli tensions was the continuing Israeli reoccupation and military operations in Palestinian areas, he said. Those actions by the Israeli military authorities had caused numerous casualties and loss of property. Those were facts, whether in Jenin or other cities, and China, therefore, condemned those killings by the Israeli authorities.
In order for peace to materialize, he said, Israel must abide by the resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly and withdraw fully from Palestinian territories. China also condemned the persistent suicide bombings and other actions, which only undermined the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people. Both sides should work towards the implementation of Security Council resolution 1397 (2002).
JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said there should not be a discussion focused solely on Palestinians when, yet again, there had been more terrorist attacks in Israel. The events of the last week showed that the focus of the emergency session was out of step with the reality of events on the ground. There would not be peace in the Middle East while one side persisted in its attacks on the civilians of the other side. For too long, the General Assembly and the Security Council had been silent when Israelis were victims of terrorism. Member States must reject the rationale given by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others that their terrorist bombings were somehow justified by the state of affairs in the Middle East.
The Secretary-General’s report put to rest the central falsehood of a “massacre” propagated by some Palestinian officials last spring, he said. The most important part of the report was the call for a constructive look to the future to prevent further bloodshed, address real humanitarian needs, and move towards a negotiated political settlement. That was the essential task at hand. In contrast, the draft Palestinian resolution, purporting to reflect the Secretary-General’s report, made no effort to provide a fair presentation of the context of the current violence in the Middle East. In fact, it appeared to be an attempt to write an alternative report.
Neither the emergency session nor another resolution that dodged the central challenge that terrorism posed to peacemaking in the Middle East would move the peace process forward or ameliorate the acknowledged dire humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza. But direct diplomatic engagement and an effective response by the international community held out the real promise of doing both. The United States would vote against today’s resolution, as it had voted against its predecessor in May, because it was focused on working directly with the parties to bring results. Also, the condemnatory rhetoric against Israel contained in the resolution would not contribute to the efforts of the international community to urge both parties to take the decisions they needed to make to end violence and return to negotiations.
AARON JACOB (Israel) noted that General Assembly resolution ES-10/10 had been adopted on the same day that 15 Israeli civilians were killed by a suicide attack in Rishon Letzion and in the face of objections by many States that had argued that it was inappropriate and unacceptable and blatantly one sided, failed to condemn Palestinian terrorism, and sought to pre-determine the facts on which the Secretary-General's report would be based.
Today's debate occurred barely 24 hours after a spate of five Palestinian terrorist attacks that had claimed at least 13 innocent Israeli lives and wounded scores of others, he continued. Those recent attacks had included a Hamas suicide bombing in the peaceful city of Safed, where the attacker's assault ripped apart a commuter bus, killing nine people and injuring some 45 others.
And yet a familiar scenario was repeating itself in the Assembly today, he said. A draft resolution had been tabled which ignored the bloody Palestinian terrorist campaign and suicide bombings, which had been classified as crimes against humanity. Palestinian representatives and their supporters continued to be wilfully blind to the heartless acts of Palestinian terrorism and their toll on the innocent. Indeed, at the previous special session, Palestinian representatives had been focused on convincing the international community and the media that a massacre had occurred in Jenin. The Palestinian Authority had spoken of 500 victims, while other Palestinian spokesmen put the number somewhere in the thousands.
While the Palestinian Observer to the United Nations had made repeated and malicious allegations describing Israel's actions as a “wide-raging massacre perpetrated against the camp's inhabitants”, the Secretary-General’s report was explicitly clear: there had been no massacre in Jenin. The shocking and libelous accusations that had led to that last emergency session and the virtually endless Security Council meetings had been nothing more than propaganda. Had the international community not been so misled, it was doubtful that Member States would have tolerated such time-consuming use of United Nations bodies. The report confirmed what Israel had stated throughout -- there had been a harsh battle between terrorists seeking to continue a bloody wave of terrorist attacks and Israeli forces trying to prevent them from succeeding.
Terrorism, he continued, could not be used as a negotiating tactic. It was morally wrong and would never work. On that, the report was clear: Palestinian hopes that a policy of inducing violence and terrorism in order to try to cause the Government and people of Israel to "buckle", simple would not work. On the contrary, in the face of the cowardly terrorists who hid behind civilians, the past two years had revealed an impressive well of courage on the part of ordinary Israeli men women and children who refused to be intimidated by acts of terror, instead continuing to travel on buses, go to university and visit cafes and shopping malls.
He said that a decade of corruption and incitement by the Palestinian leadership -- in school books, on children's television and in local mosques -- had created a generation, which had difficulty dreaming of even the possibility of peace. Indeed, the current Palestinian leadership, which had signed peace agreements with one hand, while signing terrorist cheques with the other, had proven again and again that it could not be a partner for peace. It appeared that the notion that the people of Israel also deserved a secure and peaceful existence was too high a price to pay for the current Palestinian leadership, which had preferred the embrace of extremists to the principles of peaceful coexistence.
The repeated willingness of international organizations and the Assembly to play host to every Palestinian allegation against Israel had not helped advance the cause of the Palestinian people one iota towards their dreams, he said. The tolerance for Palestinian attempts to politicize every possible agenda throughout the United Nations had done nothing to enhance the credibility and reputation of the United Nations or to advance the prospects of peace for peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians. To return to the path of peace, moderate Palestinians, neighbouring Arab States and the international community as a whole must broadcast an unequivocal message: terrorism and the support for it was intolerable and criminal, and would not be rewarded by political concessions.
ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) said the Secretary-General’s report signified, if anything, the weakness and dependency to which the United Nations had succumbed. The report equated the victim with the criminal, and was formulated in a manner that did not express the facts that had occurred in reality or what had been reported by the media. The weakness of the United Nations was a reflection of the weakness of its membership. Also, some of those working in the Department of Political Affairs were no longer “internationalists” in taking up their tasks, but undertook their responsibilities according to their own terms of reference or according to what was dictated to them.
When the Secretary-General had returned from Baghdad a few years ago, he recalled, he had been received by the staff at Headquarters as a hero. Those in the United Nations saw in that image the liberation of the Organization from its dependency. But since then, the Secretary-General had been left alone in the face of the strong. The United Nations should be an umbrella for the weak and not an instrument to be used by the powerful to beat up on the weak.
As for the question of Palestine, he reiterated that there had never been a land called Israel before 1948. No one was entitled to occupy the land of others. The question of Palestine was one of occupation, no more and no less. The land now filled with settlements could not be restored to its original owners. What peace were they referring to and how could it be achieved? What was the sarcastic comedy that was being witnessed? The United Nations should return to truth.
MOHAMMAD ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said the violent Israeli military actions against unarmed innocent people in Jenin and other Palestinian cities had been perpetrated against civilians who were attempting to establish their inalienable rights. Those actions had caused the whole world to tremble, prompting the Secretary-General to deploy a high-level fact-finding mission to the camp. And, as everyone had assumed it would, the Israeli Government had refused to allow that mission to carry out its duties.
Today, he said, the Assembly must recognize that the information contained in the report was incomplete and that Israel had not even complied with the Secretary-General's request to provide a written response. Why had Israel refused to acknowledge its actions? Further, the Israeli forces had continued their violent practices with increasing degrees of cruelty in recent months. No one could deny the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination or their right to life. It could also not be denied that the Palestinian leadership had been attempting to initiate a dialogue with the occupying Power. Those attempts had been denied through a series of obstructionist and even racist gestures.
Israel's actions manifested themselves in the most heinous breaches of humanitarian and international law, he said. They also led to despair, frustration and loss of hope on the part of the Palestinian people. Israel felt that it could do what it wanted with impunity, and the Israeli Government appeared to interpret the inertia of the Security Council and other international bodies as implicit support of its actions. It believed that it was above international humanitarian law. Kuwait urged all international bodies, particularly the Council, to carry out their duties to maintain international peace and security. It would further call on the Council to ensure that all those that continued to breach international law were identified and brought to justice. That call was more urgent than ever, now that the International Criminal Call had entered into force.
He said the only way to ensure peace would be the full withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the occupied territories, based on the relevant Security Council resolutions. Israel must halt arbitrary arrest, siege and policies of starvation. It must also dismantle its settlements and cease creating new ones. Those actions would be the only way to ensure that the Palestinian people could have a feeling of confidence and security. Kuwait urged the Security Council to send a disengagement and monitoring force to the region to ensure safety and security on the ground and aid in implementing the relevant resolutions.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the Secretary-General’s report had been issued under difficult circumstances and was, at best, a second-hand account of what had transpired. Beyond determining the nature of the events of April and affixing responsibility for them, there were larger questions to be dealt with, the first being the illegality of foreign occupation, which was the root cause of the violence in the occupied Palestinian territories. While Israel was obligated to withdraw from those areas, it had continued to occupy them, as well as to reoccupy areas that had been vacated. The Secretary-General had rightly observed that self-defence was not a blank cheque for the occupying Power.
The second issue, he said, was the obligation of Member States to implement Security Council resolutions. Israel had refused to implement both Council and Assembly resolutions. The third issue was the applicability and observance of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law, which were applicable to the West Bank and Gaza. Despite its shortcomings, the report had confirmed that serious violations of international law had taken place in the course of the Israeli military occupation of the Jenin camp. While the word "massacre", like "terrorism", had not been legally defined, what had occurred in Jenin amounted to serious violations of international humanitarian law, which could constitute war crimes. The Assembly must determine appropriate legal action for the perpetrators and planners of such policies.
Noting that the international community had declared a war against terrorism, he said Pakistan was committed to success in that war. However, in the Holy Land, as in other areas such as Jammu and Kashmir, the campaign against terrorism had been used as an excuse for violations of human rights. Durable peace did not flow from the barrel of a gun.
ABDULLAH AL-ATHBA (Qatar) said today’s meeting was taking place at a particularly critical time. Violence continued in the region, and the Israeli Government had continued its military actions -- many of which were in direct contravention of international law –- namely, arbitrary arrest, missile launches, killings and restrictions on the movement of innocent civilians.
He said there was no doubt that the atrocities committed in Jenin and other Palestinian cities were criminal. Qatar could not understand why the report avoided using the word "massacre". The United Nations, which so strongly condemned terrorist actions, should equally condemn Prime Minister Sharon's actions. The report contained many contradictions, relying too much on the accounts of the Israeli Government and ignoring the Palestinian accounts and, most unfortunately, the reports of international humanitarian organizations in the region.
Qatar was also certain that if the Secretary-General’s fact-finding mission had not met such vehement resistance from the Israeli Government, the report before the Assembly would have portrayed a far different account of the events in Jenin and other cities. Israel's rigid position on withdrawal from Palestinian territories was well known. Qatar refused to accept Security Council resolutions based on a double standard -- maintaining peace and security was a principle that must be imposed on everyone, including Israel.
JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said that, although his country was against terrorism in any form, that should not be taken to mean that it was not in favour of self-determination for people under foreign occupation. The Palestinian people were an example of people living under occupation. Compared to others in similar situations, the Palestinians had been victims on an almost daily basis since 1948.
What had happened in Jenin gave rise to great anger in the international community, he said. The decision of the Secretary-General to dispatch a team to conduct an investigation had been welcomed at the international level. It had been necessary for the fact-finding team to visit the area to determine what had happened, but Israel had refused to allow the team to carry out its work.
He said he had hoped for more in terms of the Secretary-General’s report. It had been recognized that it had not been possible to carry out a proper study of the events. It was not possible, he noted, to put on an equal footing the occupation forces and those of the occupied. It was difficult to build a State due to the tremendous destruction inflicted on the areas in question.
ILHAM IBRAHIM AHMED (Sudan) reiterated her delegation’s strong condemnation of Israel's continued refusal to comply with Security Council resolutions, to cooperate with the Secretary-General's fact-finding mission to Jenin and subsequent attempts to prepare a report on the serious events that took place there. The Sudan regretted that the report contained no serious conclusions or recommendations, and that it had been based on facts contrary to what had been witnessed by the international community.
She said it was deeply regrettable that the report characterized the barbaric actions of the Israeli Government as merely a normal response to “Palestinian violent activities”. The report was an unbalanced account of events sparked by the continued occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel. To the Sudan's great surprise, the report depicted the bloody actions by the occupying Power on the same level as those actions taken by the Palestinian people to defend their sovereign rights. There was no surprise, then, that Israel hailed the release of the report, as it depended mostly on that country’s own accounts of the situation in Jenin and other cities.
By continuing its brutal crimes and violations of international humanitarian norms, she said, Israel apparently considered itself to be above international law. The occupying Power was heedless of any and all international legality and continued to humiliate the bodies of the United Nations and ignore the requests of the Security Council.
The only way to ensure Israel's security was through complete withdrawal from the occupied territories, she said. That would enable the Palestinian people to establish an independent State. The Sudan called on all peace-loving countries to firmly adopt a position that would compel Israel to respond to international legal principles.
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) expressed serious concerned with the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying the illegal Israeli acts not only increased the number of victims, but also increased violence and did nothing positive to solve the situation. They did not constitute security for Israel, but only illegal acts against the Palestinians. He called on both sides to stop the bloodletting, avoid using terrorist actions and try to follow up on initiatives taken.
As one of the sponsors of the peace process and as one of the members of the Quartet, he said both sides should do their utmost to stop violence and bring about a situation in which the peace process could move forward. It was necessary to see how a viable Palestine could be brought about and how both societies could live in peace. Progress in the area of reforms and security in humanitarian areas should be carried out together. It should be made possible for Palestinians to have genuine bodies of their own. Also, the situation of closures must be examined. He hoped the Arab States would continue to work in the region with the goal of renewing the peace process.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said he was not surprised that certain delegations today would refer to the actions of the Palestinian Authority rather than dwell on the Israeli military actions that continued to date and which ran contrary to all international legal legitimacy. Human Rights Watch had depicted the Secretary-General's report as a failure because it “did not examine the actions taken by Israeli military forces”. Syria further regarded the report as a failure because it did not present any proposals or recommendations based on facts as they had really occurred in Jenin and other Palestinian cities.
He said war crimes had indeed been committed, but, unfortunately, Israel had once again skirted its international obligations. Once again, it had ignored the resolutions of the Assembly and the Security Council. Israel had once again flouted even the will of the Secretary-General to cooperate with his fact-finding mission to Jenin or the compilation of the report before the Assembly today. The report did not properly reflect Israel's failure to cooperate with its preparation at any levels, but was merely a recitation of the Israeli Government's view of events.
More than 1,700 Palestinian's had been killed by the actions of Israeli military forces, he asserted. What was the justification for the continued raids on peaceful villages which left hundreds of women children and other civilians dead? The Secretary-General’s report discreetly set out many of the actions taken by the Israeli military. Did those actions not constitute violations of humanitarian law and of the Fourth Geneva Convention? Why did the report fail to call war crimes what they really were? Such events had previously qualified as war crimes in every United Nations forum. Any failure to identify such actions would open the path for Israel and all who followed it to undermine the efforts achieved by the international community to put clear restrictions on violations of international humanitarian law.
He reiterated that the peace to which all aspired was a comprehensive one, in accordance with international legality. That meant putting an end to Israeli occupation, withdrawal from the occupied territories and the full realization of the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent State. Syria did not believe that the massacres perpetrated in Jenin and the recent violent aggression would be the end of Israel's barbaric actions. Still, Syria believed that the international community, along with the people of both Palestine and Israel, could work towards establishing a lasting and just peace in the Middle East.
WEGGER STROMMEN (Norway) said the report before the Assembly was but a substitute for the report that was to have been presented by the disbanded fact- finding team. Nevertheless, it gave clear indications and facts as to what had happened in Jenin and other Palestinian cities. The report confirmed that Palestinian militants had established military bases in densely populated civilian areas. It also confirmed the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority to protect Israeli civilians from attacks, including suicide bombings, emanating from areas under its security control.
However, the report also gave clear indications that the Israeli response to the Palestinian terrorist attacks was out of proportion, he said. It also pointed to Israel denying the medical and humanitarian workers access to the areas of operation, and to the targeting of such personnel by the IDF. He urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to strictly comply with international law, both in fighting terrorism and in protecting civilians. He also urged the Palestinian Authority to do its utmost to prevent further suicide bombings.
Encouraged by the Palestinian Authority’s serious new reform efforts, he said the Norwegian Government was ready to make its contribution to the reform process both as a member of the Task Force on reforms and bilaterally. Norway urged Israel to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority and the international community in putting reforms into effect and making them work. Israel should cease its policy of forcible transfer of protected persons, and refrain from collective punishment, including harsh closures and the demolishing of Palestinian homes, actions which were in breach of Israel’s international commitments.
RODOLFO BENITEZ VERSON (Cuba) said that since Israel had flagrantly ignored Council resolution 1405 (2002) and had never responded to the Secretary-General’s request to cooperate in the preparation of the report, it had major limitations, which were recognized in the report itself.
Hypocrisy and double standards continued to prevail, protected by the use of the veto in the Security Council, he said. The situation in the Middle East would have been different were it not for the 25 United States vetoes in the Council. The United States must immediately suspend military support to Israel. The State terrorism unleashed by Israel must cease and the systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinians, torture and demolition of homes must be halted. The attempts by the United States and Israel to no longer recognize Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was unacceptable, while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was maintained as a legitimate interlocutor.
Cuba would persist in denouncing the crimes committed against Arab peoples, particularly the Palestinians, he said. Innocent Israeli civilian casualties were the victims of the policies and actions of their Government. The Palestinian people could not continue not to have protection under the current circumstances. The proposal of the Secretary-General to establish a multinational force must be examined without delay, and the Assembly must act to aid the heroic people of Palestine and uphold the credibility of the United Nations.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said military and violent actions only bred more hatred and undermined attempts to bring about reconciliation and a negotiated settlement of the Middle East conflict. Thus, the European Union deeply regretted the continued violence in the region, which just yesterday included an attack on an Israeli bus near Safed. The fact that civilians were being targeted by meaningless acts of violence was significant as those activities had picked up just as the international community was working together with the parties to put the peace process back on track.
She said the dire situation in the Palestinian areas called for immediate humanitarian efforts. International humanitarian agencies must be allowed full, safe and unfettered access to those areas. The Union noted with concern the Secretary-General's finding that a significant part of the fighting during Operation Defensive Shield had taken place in heavily populated civilian areas and that both sides had placed civilians in harm's way. The European Union deplored the loss of civilian life that subsequently occurred. The widespread and senseless destruction of Palestinian public and private property had grim social, economic and humanitarian consequences for the civilian populations in the affected areas.
The European Union stressed the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, under international law, to protect civilian, including undertaking the maximum possible efforts to stop terrorist attacks against the Israeli population and bringing the perpetrators to justice. The Union noted with grave concern reports of the unnecessary suffering of the civilian population due to the denial of access to medical and humanitarian personnel, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the incursion. Both parties were called on to comply strictly with international law and to exert all efforts to protect civilians when preventing and combating terror.
Above all, she continued, the Secretary-General's report painted a picture of human suffering and clearly illustrated that there was no military solution to the conflict. The European Union fully shared the view that the events described in the report, along with the ongoing cycle of violence and the continuing deterioration of the situation, demonstrated the urgent need for the parties to resume a process that would lead back to the negotiating table.
MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) said the report recorded a number of war crimes and crimes against humanity and pointed to the fact that the Council had not cooperated with the Secretary-General to compel Israel to comply with relevant resolutions. The question now was why Israel had opposed the fact-finding mission if it had nothing to hide. The fact that it refused to receive the team set a serious precedent for international law.
He said Israel continued to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people, more than 4 million of whom were living in a huge prison. The report equated the victim with the perpetrator and did not point clearly to the basis of the problem. Also, the preparation of the report by United Nations officials at Headquarters could not give the real picture of what had really happened in Jenin, in light of the fact that no witnesses had been used.
In addition, he continued, the report did not make use of the documentation by the media or accounts by emergency personnel on the ground. Furthermore, the report did not define, from a legal point of view, the magnitude of the crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in Jenin. The Assembly was called upon to undertake its responsibility to maintain international peace and security in light of the Council’s failure to do so.
VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India) said that notwithstanding its drawbacks, the report fulfilled the task of providing the Assembly with an indispensable, detailed account of the events along with a comprehensive analysis of the security, humanitarian and human rights responsibilities of concerned parties. The report made it clear that Israeli military incursions into Jenin and other cities in the occupied Palestinian territories had resulted in a heavy toll of life and property. It took note of the fact that the IDF, in many instances, resorted to a disproportionate use of force and of heavy weaponry in Palestinian civilian areas. In addition, humanitarian workers were denied access to people in need of assistance and that, in some cases, scant respect was paid to the neutrality of medical and humanitarian workers resulting in attacks even on ambulances.
The report, he continued, recorded in some detail the severe hardships suffered by the Palestinians as a result of IDF actions. It also reported the widespread and indiscriminate destruction of the Palestinian Authority’s civilian infrastructure, estimated at approximately $361 million. In Jenin alone, private property estimated at $27 million was destroyed. Yet, the Secretary-General was strangely reticent in his comment in the report that “clarity and certainty remain elusive” on the policy and facts of the IDF response. Such economy and ellipsis sometimes strained the report’s credibility. Notwithstanding that, the details brought out in the report lead inescapably to the conclusion that much of the loss of life and property could have been avoided if protecting the civilian population had figured as a priority to the IDF.
At the same time, the report had drawn attention to attacks by Palestinian armed groups against Israeli civilians resulting in heavy loss of life, he said. He reiterated India's call for an end to violence, whether military actions or acts of terror against innocent and unarmed civilians. The continuing deterioration of the situation and ongoing cycle of violence demonstrated the urgent need for both parties to immediately resume a process that would lead them back to the negotiating table.
RAMEZ GOUSSOUS (Jordan) said that, due to Israel's arrogant refusal to acknowledge the will of the international community and to allow a fact-finding mission to examine first hand the situation in Jenin and other Palestinian cities, questions might forever remain about what had really happened there. There was no doubt, however, about the impact of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian people.
There was also no doubt, he said, that Israel had committed grave violations of international law, particularly of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It had taken hostages, pursued policies of arbitrary arrest and illegal introduction of curfews, as well as cutting off water and electricity to Jenin and other occupied areas. Further, the destruction of historic and religious places was not a military necessity, but a collective and disproportionate punishment spitefully heaped upon the long-suffering Palestinian people. Jordan shared the Secretary-General's view that the struggle against terrorism did not mean signing a blank cheque for Israel to violate international law. The report showed that Israel's flagrant violations of the Geneva Conventions were not exceptional events, but sustained and repeated actions. That was a reflection of general Israeli policy.
He emphasized the necessity of ensuring the protection of the Palestinian people from Israeli aggression. According to international law, such protection was the right of the Palestinian people, as it would be for any people living under foreign occupation. The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention must shoulder their responsibilities under that instrument, and must identify and punish those violating its precepts. Finally, Jordan reiterated the Secretary-General's invitation to the international community to undertake its responsibility to work in cooperation towards a peaceful and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions.
DARMANSJAH DJUMALA (Indonesia) said that, owing to Israel's refusal to cooperate with the efforts of the Secretary-General, the report was not based on any field visit to Jenin, as had previously been anticipated. Indonesia, therefore, continued to denounce Israel's refusal to offer the required cooperation in that investigation, as well as its failure to respond to the request for information. It was astonishing -– but not really surprising -– that, according to the report, only 52 Palestinians were killed during Israel's senseless and indiscriminate rampage through the homes of the already deprived and suffering Palestinians.
Since no authoritative determination of the facts had really taken place, it was inconceivable that the report should be considered the end of the investigation, he said. The full facts were not known, but they must be determined. In the interests of truth and justice, he demanded that pressure be maintained on Israel to grant access to a United Nations fact-finding mission so that the full story of what really happened in Jenin could be known. Peace was not possible without justice, and justice was not possible without the truth. Only the same standard of objectivity and full accountability was good enough regarding every issue on the United Nations agenda.
He reiterated that the Palestinian people were entitled to be free of the brutal occupation by Israel and to a viable independent State. The occupying Power should not be permitted to continue to enjoy the luxury of ignoring the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, as well as the resolutions of both the Security Council and the General Assembly. The repeated forays of killing and destruction in recent months were an affront, not only to the Palestinians, but also to the international community. That systematic violence must end.
ZAINUDDIN YAHYA (Malaysia) said Israel's absolute refusal to cooperate in the investigation was obviously an attempt to conceal the truth and the actual gravity of its actions. The findings of the Secretary-General's report would have been different if the fact-finding team had been able to visit the area. He strongly condemned the illegal conduct of the IDF, including unlawful killings, the use of human shields, destruction of property, arbitrary arrests and torture, and obstruction of humanitarian operations. Its disproportionate use of force was apparent throughout the report.
He expressed grave concern at the continued curfews and other severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods. Immediate measures must be taken to alleviate the situation in the Palestinian territories through urgently needed assistance and services in addressing the humanitarian needs, as well as rebuilding the Palestinian economy. As Israeli actions had led to a standstill of all aspects of life for the Palestinian and as the IDF had widely flouted international humanitarian principles and human rights standards, Israel must be made to bow to the demands of the well-established principles of international law and international humanitarian law and undertake its obligations as a democratic and civilized member of the international community.
Israel had been warned that its violent actions in pursuit of "total security" would lead to further violence, he said. The Hebrew University bombing and subsequent attacks were obviously a consequence of Israel's missile attack on Gaza City. Israel must realize that the root cause of Palestinian militancy and anger, which were beyond the control of the Palestinian Authority, was its occupation of Palestinian territories, expansion of illegal settlements and its continued denial of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel must fully implement Security Council resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002). There was an immediate need to prevent the worsening situation from leading to a point where the return to negotiations would not be possible.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) deplored the recent surge in the vicious cycle of violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Referring, in particular, to the air strikes by the Israeli forces on Gaza City and the recent series of terrorist acts by Palestinian extremists at Hebrew University, and near Safed and Eli, he expressed his deep condolences to all the bereaved families and heartfelt sympathy to the injured parties. It was particularly regrettable that those events took place at a time when the international community was making concerted efforts to bring peace to the region.
He urged both the Israelis and the Palestinians to break that cycle of violence. He particularly urged Israel to exert the maximum self-restraint in its use of force and the Palestinian Authority to make the utmost effort to suppress the acts of extremists. The report on the Jenin camp was the product of great effort by the United Nations Secretariat and the international community. It was critical that both parties and the international community make the utmost effort to stop the violence on the ground, in order to end the humanitarian crisis described in the report. The Japanese Government had been engaged in a strenuous effort to improve the situation, including through the appointment of a Special Envoy for Middle East issues.
In order to realize the vision of two States living side by side in peace and security, all three aspects of restoring security, providing economic and humanitarian assistance, and resuming the political process should be pursued simultaneously, he said. Japan would continue to contribute to the reform of the Palestinian Authority as an active member of the new international Task Force on Palestinian Reform. For its part, the Government of Israel should help create an environment that facilitated the reform of the Palestinian Authority by completely withdrawing the IDF to the 28 September 2000 line; transferring tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority; ending closure of the Palestinian territories; and ceasing the destruction of infrastructure and social service facilities.
KIM CHANG GUK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) noted that, in the three months since the last special session, no substantial progress had been made to ease tensions in the Middle East. Israeli occupying forces had very recently reoccupied Palestinian cities and other populated centres and continued, as well, to carry out high-handed military attacks on the present national authority, the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
He said that, as had been reported, Israel was moving ahead with plans to deport the relatives of Palestinians alleged to be responsible for suicide attacks on the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. That arrogant and contemptuous act was a grave challenge to peace and security in the region and the world, as well as a wanton violation of international law. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea strongly condemned the atrocities committed by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians living in Jenin and other cities.
The cause of Palestinians and other Arab peoples to restore their right to self-determination was justifiable, he said. However, their path towards that goal was beset with obstacles. Israel was now using its arms more openly -- reflecting the protection and encouragement of a certain country. The United Nations should, therefore, continue to concentrate its efforts on the peaceful solution of regional disputes and the elimination of all unjust pressure or interference in internal affairs. The present session should identify solutions aimed at ending Israeli oppression and promote practical measures to defend the legitimate rights of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) described as illegal and immoral the activities of recent days both at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the bombings and shootings that followed. Singapore deplored all such acts of terror and violence, as well as the deliberate targeting of civilians, and urged both sides to immediately end all violence.
He said his country regretted Israel’s refusal to allow the Secretary-General’s fact-finding team to visit Jenin and its ignoring of “every opportunity” to contribute information for the Secretary-General’s report on what had happened there. In view of the many claims and counter-claims about the events in Jenin, it would have been to the Israeli Government’s advantage to have had the fact-finding team resolve the matter in a conclusive way. Due to its refusal to allow the team access, the Secretary-General’s report, as mandated by the General Assembly, had now had to be compiled from secondary sources rather than from first-hand observation and investigation.
Welcoming the report's publication, nevertheless, and accepting it as a balanced and conscientious attempt to clarify the events that had taken place, he said the escalation of violence on both sides was counterproductive to the ongoing international effort to establish a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. The only way to achieve that was through a negotiated settlement, on the basis of two States, Israel and Palestine, existing side by side, each within secure borders as called for in Security Council resolution 1397 (2002), he said.
M. JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) said that despite serious shortcomings, the Secretary-General's report revealed, to some extent, the crimes perpetrated by the Israeli military during its invasion of the Jenin refugee camp and other Palestinian areas last April. It had accomplished that end despite the fact that the Israeli regime had adopted an obstructionist policy at the outset and had done its utmost to block any effort by the international community to obtain accurate information about what went on in the refugee camp during the period in question.
He said the report echoed the assertion of independent human rights experts and eyewitness accounts that, among other things, civilians had been used as human shields by Israeli troops. The report was also explicit in its description of specific Israeli acts -- preventing access to medical care and basic humanitarian necessities, among them -- which amounted to war crimes. The report also noted that, in addition to denial of aid, medical personnel had also been targeted in the attacks. And while it listed many other acts, which by any definition would constitute crimes of war, the report failed to call those crimes what they actually were within the parameters of international law.
Undoubtedly, he went on, that and the report's other shortcomings were attributable to the Israeli Government's persistent policy of deceit on the diplomatic front. That policy had been highlighted when, well aware of the extent of their crimes, the Israelis had attempted to buy time by misleading the United Nations into believing an international fact-finding mission would be allowed to visit the Jenin camp. Israel should not be allowed to commit war crimes, hold the entire United Nations system in contempt, evade accountability and finally walk away with impunity, he stressed. Indeed, the events that had evolved following Israel's refusal to abide by the will of the United Nations, the Security Council and the wider international community during the past few months was a cause of great concern. Acts of collective punishment and destruction of the property of persons protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention constituted criminal offences under recognized international law. For the sake of its own credibility, the United Nations should focus all its attention on efforts to end such practices and bring their perpetrators to justice.
ABOUL ATTA (Egypt) said the suffering of the Palestinian people was augmented by the occupation and its practices, and that the expanding cycle of violence reflected the arrogance of the occupying Power and its flaunting of international legitimacy and human rights. It was hoped that the world, still witnessing new waves of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, would force Israel to choose the path of peace for all.
Israel’s failure to allow the fact-finding team to perform its task was a flagrant violation of international legitimacy and a disregard for the Fourth Geneva Convention, he said. Israel’s attempts to conceal the war crimes committed by its armed forces against the Palestinian people were totally regrettable. The principle of collective punishment could not be justified or accepted by the international community under any circumstances. Such actions would only deepen the hatred which already existed.
He called on the international community to deal with the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. Every effort should be made to establish a viable, independent Palestinian State which could live side by side with Israel. The violence must stop, and the parties must return to the negotiating table.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea), noting that the outlook in the region remained deeply disconcerting, said military actions and terrorist attacks continued to cause severe casualties and suffering among civilian populations. This past weekend had brought more violence in Nablus, Safed and East Jerusalem, and the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories had deteriorated seriously because of the continuing violence.
The Republic of Korea deplored the recent tragedies on the ground, he continued, particularly the loss of innocent civilian lives in the Israeli air attack over Gaza City on 23 July. There was an urgent need to cease such disproportionate uses of force. In the same vein, last week's terrorist bombing that had indiscriminately targeted Hebrew University students was also a cause for profound concern. Those attacks, which should be strongly condemned, had seriously injured several Korean nationals, among other innocent students and passers-by.
He said those instances of violence generally characterized the grave state of affairs in the Middle East, especially the toll it was taking on civilian life. The Korean Government firmly opposed any form of violence to address outstanding or divisive issues and urged both sides to exercise the utmost restraint. They should adhere to international humanitarian law to ensure the full protection of civilians. The use of violence diminished the prospects for overall peace in the region. The process for a genuine peace between the two sides should resume in earnest, based on the relevant Security Council resolutions.
PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that despite Israel's incomprehensible refusal to cooperate with the fact-finding team, thus leaving the Secretary-General with no alternative than to use second-hand information, his report contained some elements of evidence indicating that the occupying Power had launched Operation Defensive Shield and deliberately flouted its responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law. The list of atrocities against the Palestinian people and the scope of damage to the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority were overwhelming and could be spoken of as war crimes. The international community must seriously consider the prosecution of perpetrators of such crimes so as to prevent them from reoccurring.
He deplored the illegal practices, which continued in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying the competent international bodies must intervene as a matter of urgency. The subjugation and humiliation of the Palestinian people, as well as the destruction of their institutions, had resulted in a growing chasm between two kindred people, as well as new acts of hatred. Left to themselves, Israelis and Palestinians would never be able to extricate themselves from the cycle of violence. The international community must shoulder its responsibility and intervene more resolutely by, among other things, creating a multinational presence in the area. The Security Council, and particularly the Quartet, must prepare a daring plan to put into practice the vision of two States and to speedily convene an international conference.
MUNSHI FAIZ AHMAD (Bangladesh) said that while the report mentioned at least 52 confirmed Palestinian deaths, the international community might never be able to ascertain what really happened. The situation in the Middle East continued to wander in a directionless and hopeless cycle of unprecedented cruelty and violence. During the last few months, in particular, Israeli actions in Palestinian-controlled areas had created an untenable situation. Consequent acts of retaliation by Palestinian groups invited renewed and further severe Israeli actions. Throughout all this, both Israeli and Palestinian civilians continued to suffer.
Bangladesh condemned all forms of terrorism and violence against civilians, he continued. However, it was still important to consider what would be the expected reaction of people living not in sane, civilized conditions, but subjected to unremitting inhumane, degrading and cruel treatment through occupation and various forms of collective punishment. In such dire circumstances, the primary responsibility to do the right thing would rest more on the parties that enjoyed the position of comparative strength. Bangladesh, therefore, strongly condemned the Israeli excesses in the occupied territories. The disproportionate use of Israeli force as a response to individual Palestinian actions was unacceptable, and it must be stopped.
Calling on both parties to end the cycle of violence and retaliation, he urged both sides to respect fully their obligations under international humanitarian law. The international community must press for a final settlement. To that end, Bangladesh welcomed the efforts of the Quartet to help return the parties to the path of negotiation. He said the United Nations should continue to advocate an end to the violence and to promote a meaningful resumption of political dialogue between the parties, leading to a comprehensive, just and lasting political settlement of the conflict.
CHUCHAI KASEMSARN (Thailand) said it was disheartening that the report had been issued against the backdrop of a new cycle of violence and terror in the region. The situation in the Middle East since the last meeting of the emergency session reflected the fact that there had been little, if any, improvement, particularly in the humanitarian situation. He appealed to all parties concerned to exercise utmost restraint and to immediately cease the use of violence and terror, which had brought about such suffering and grief to countless families.
The only viable and acceptable way forward was for all parties to work towards a comprehensive and enduring political settlement through peaceful negotiations, he said. Thailand strongly urged all parties to fully implement all relevant Security Council resolutions and supported all relevant international efforts, including that of Crown Prince Abdullah endorsed at the Beirut Arab Summit, as well as the ongoing process of consultations within the framework of the Quartet. It was hoped that those efforts, in close coordination with other international efforts, would help restore peace to the Middle East for all the region’s peoples.
JAIME ACUÑA (Chile), expressing regret over the lack of cooperation by the Government of Israel in clarifying a complex reality, appealed for the abandonment of rigid positions and urged the adoption of constructive positions for the achievement of peace. Chile was concerned at the occurrence of large offensives and excessive punishments, as well as the attacks on the Israeli populations. The authorities must make peace grow and eliminate violence. Reprisals had shown themselves to be useless in settling disputes. Hatred did not distinguish hatred.
He appealed to the Government of Israel to halt its military operations and withdraw its troops from all Palestinian cities and areas under Palestinian authority. Occupation must cease, giving give rise to two independent States living side by side in peace. Chile appreciated the efforts of the Secretary-General, the Security Council and the Quartet, as well as those of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan as part of their participation in the negotiating process. Their statements provided hope for the achievement of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Israeli Government had done everything in its power to withhold information on what had happened during its invasion of Jenin and had even prevented the Secretary-General from sending a high-level fact-finding team to examine the situation on the ground. Inevitably, then, the Secretary-General's report fell short of a comprehensive inquiry and was not definitive on whether war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed. He recalled the Secretary-General's prophetic observation that, if such a mission were not deployed, the long shadow of the events in Jenin would remain.
Meanwhile, he continued, the senseless killing of innocent Palestinian and Israeli civilians continued. When Member States had requested the preparation of the report before the Assembly, some 400 Israelis and 1,500 Palestinian's had already died. More civilians had died during the report's subsequent compilation, and, in one incident, an Israeli F16 fighter jet had dropped laser guided bombs on a heavily populated area in the Gaza Strip, inflicting massive civilian casualties and injuries. Prime Minister Sharon had described the attack as one of Israel's “most successful military operations to date”. However, the deadly retaliatory attacks against Israel demonstrated that so long as “success” was determined by the number of casualties, peace was far from a reality in the Middle East.
He said the debate on the report was not merely an attempt to set the record straight on the incident in the Jenin refugee camp, but also a reflection of the broader reality that the Israeli military operations, curfews, blockades, threats of expulsion and destruction of homes amounted to a perpetual violation of international humanitarian law. The report contained highly disturbing eyewitness accounts of Israel's disproportionate use of force not only in Jenin, but in Nablus and other cities throughout the West Bank. It also pointed to Israel's use of the most advanced and lethal military equipment against densely populated civilian areas, extrajudiciary executions, arbitrary arrest and mass detentions of civilian men.
It was on the issue of the denial of humanitarian access to the Palestinian people affected by the Israeli operations that the report was most authoritative, he said. The shocking accounts of prolonged delays in medical attention due to Israeli military operations and blockades, and of the attacks on ambulances and humanitarian workers, came directly from impartial humanitarian personnel. The Non-Aligned Movement believed that there was an urgent need for the parties to resume a process that would lead back to the negotiating table. The premise for a just and durable solution to the Middle East crisis must be lie on an end to Israeli occupation of Arab land and the establishment of a Palestinian State. Until the Palestinians had a place to call home, the people of the Middle East were unlikely to know peace.
MEHIEDDINE EL KADIRI (Morocco) said the resumption of the emergency session reflected the international community’s anxiety regarding what was happening in the occupied Palestinian territories. The aggravation of the situation had resulted in the paralysis of all efforts to achieve peace in the region, including the latest Arab initiative and those of the Quartet. Without a doubt, the Secretary-General’s report did not fulfil all the objective conditions needed to throw light on the facts and draw conclusions on the events in Jenin. Had a visit been allowed, clear evidence would have been gained of the gravity of the crimes committed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians.
As the Secretary-General had declared, no detailed report on Jenin could have been prepared without a visit to the place itself and the cooperation of all the parties, he said. The report proved that many violations had been committed by Israeli forces. Israel had flouted its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law. It had been seen that the adoption of a purely security logic could not end the cycle of violence in the region.
The international community must compel Israel to comply with the rules of international law, end the occupation of Palestinian territories, resume negotiations and comply with the principles on which the peace process was based, he emphasized.
MARIA ELENA CHASSOUL (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that despite the difficult circumstances surrounding the report's preparation, it had still provided a depiction of the situation in and around the Jenin camp and other Palestinian areas. The Rio Group condemned all acts of violence and terrorism, particularly the targeting of innocent civilians.
She called upon States with influence over both parties to urge adherence to international law and to the relevant Security Council resolutions in an effort to achieve peace in the region. The Rio Group remained committed to all efforts to achieve a lasting and just settlement to the conflict, which would contribute to peace and security throughout the region.
MEHMET BILMAN (Turkey) also condemned all acts of violence, including the morally repugnant practice of suicide bombings. Terrorism was a crime against humanity and was never the way to advance the cause of peace. While fully recognizing Israel’s right to self-defence, that country must respect the principles of international law and recognize that the use of disproportionate force did not advance its cause.
He went on to say that, while the Secretary-General’s report depicted the actions of the Israeli military, it also stressed the obligation of the Palestinian Authority to fight terrorism and to work for the safety of Israeli civilians and others living in the region. Turkey noted with deep concern that Palestinian groups in Jenin had adopted measures that contravened international law. It was equally disturbing that those groups had used civilians to their own ends. The road to a lasting peace in the Middle East passed through genuine political will, which required moral courage and statesmanship.
It was, therefore, incumbent upon the leadership of both sides to show the way, he said. There was no alternative to diplomatic options that would allow both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to live side by side in safety, peace and security. While Turkey could not accept the conditions to which the Palestinian people were subjected, neither could it accept the targeting of innocent civilians.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia), while noting the findings contained in the report, said it should not have contained media reports from the Israeli Government, which were not directed to the United Nations. It remained a bad precedent that Israel was allowed to obstruct the decisions of the Security Council without consequences.
Israel seemed determined to destroy the Palestinian Authority, he said. In the process, massive human rights violations, as well as grave breaches of international humanitarian law, were taking place. The report shockingly described how humanitarian agencies had been prevented by the IDF from delivering medical supplies and medical assistance to the needy, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths. Furthermore, medical personnel had even been directly targeted and killed.
The international community should ensure that Israel was held accountable for breaches of international humanitarian law and war crimes, he said. It was regrettable that the Security Council was paralysed and unwilling to do anything about the tragic situation unfolding in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Council was failing to enforce its own resolutions on the question of Palestine, thus eroding its own authority.
BIJAYEDUTH GOKOOL (Mauritius) reiterated his country’s condemnation of all acts which victimized innocent civilians and deplored the deaths caused by yesterday's bombing attack on an Israeli commuter bus, as well as the attack on the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Innocent lives, irrespective of their nationalities, deserved to be protected, and it was a moral and legal responsibility under humanitarian law for all parties to commit themselves to those obligations. Since September 2000, each terrorist act had been followed by an IDF incursion into Palestinian territory, and each incursion had been followed by a further terrorist act. The precarious and unstable situation in the Middle East must end.
He fully supported the various international initiatives towards a peaceful settlement of the Middle East problem. A comprehensive approach must address the political, economic, social and humanitarian conditions in the occupied territories. Mauritius called upon all donors to continue with their support for the development and rebuilding of the Palestinian infrastructure. The "land for peace" formula should be the basis for all future talks, but peace would not be attainable in the absence of a genuine commitment from both sides. It was time for reflection on what had gone wrong in all the efforts carried out so far.
The most important confidence-building measure that Israel should undertake was immediate withdrawal from the occupied territories, he said. It was inconceivable that more than 700,000 Palestinian people were kept under siege for so long a period, and it was unacceptable that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had been isolated in his headquarters for so many months. Moreover, the infliction of collective punishment, denying innocent civilians the right to a free life, was totally unjustified.
YAHYA MAHMASANI, observer for the League of Arab States, said the report did not state a clear position or put responsibility on Israel for refusing to allow the fact-finding team to perform its tasks. Israel had committed all sorts of crimes and flouted the resolutions of the international community, which had failed to take a stance against Israel’s actions. Israel had ignored international legitimacy and refused to implement Council resolution 1405 (2002). It had become a daily fact of life for Israel to violate international humanitarian law, and the situation had reached a point where there could be no further concessions.
The report had fallen short of using the appropriate word “massacre”, he noted. Nor had it determined how many people had fallen. Israel had used air power and heavy artillery to raid Palestinian areas. Could civilians in Jenin have stood against such attacks? The present deplorable situation could only deteriorate further, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
A clear message should be sent to Israel, requesting it to bear its responsibility, provide the necessary protection to civilians, respect Council resolutions and withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. International efforts should also be reasserted, especially those of the Quartet, in order to give credence to Assembly and Council resolutions.
SYED SHAHID HUSAIN, Organization of the Islamic Conference, noting that Israel's non-cooperation and blatant sabotage of the Secretary-General’s initiative had made it impossible for him to proceed with the fact-finding mission, said that sending the team to Jenin would have brought to light more credible details of what had transpired. The truth had once again been concealed by Israel's disregard for United Nations resolutions. The international community's appeasement of Israeli intransigence, as on so many previous occasions, was keeping the conflict entrenched. That was particularly disheartening, given the emergence of a consensus to establish an independent Palestinian State. The international community should ensure that that consensus proceeded to its fruition, unimpeded by the nefarious designs and actions of any adversaries.
Those presently holding power in Israel had demonstrated their aversion to the peace process and to the idea of creating a State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital, he said. Their latest excuse was the Palestinian resistance to the forces of occupation, which Israel was calling terrorism. It was, in fact, Israel's own State terrorism against the Palestinian people, perpetrated under its prolonged, illegal and immoral occupation, that was inviting the resistance and retaliation. If the Government of Israel truly desired peace and security, then its course of action should not be continued force and brutality, but the withdrawal of all its occupation forces and a return to the negotiating table.
SIMON ANDREW CARDY (South Africa), introducing the revised draft resolution contained in document A/ES-10/L.11, said that the text was the product of extensive negotiations among all Member States and enjoyed the overwhelming support of the Assembly.
Action on Text
The Assembly then adopted the text by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 4 against (Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with 11 abstentions (see Annex).
Explanations of Vote
Speaking in explanation of position after the vote, the representative of Canada said that regarding the events in Jenin and other Palestinian cities last April, her country had consistently supported the initiative of the Secretary-General to develop accurate information. Canada was grateful to the Secretary-General for the completion of the report, which underscored the responsibility of both sides to achieve a lasting peace, but was disappointed with the Israeli decision not to cooperate with the fact-finding team.
She said Canada had abstained on the resolution because it failed to deal with the full balance of responsibility for the continuing violence. That was a fundamental weakness, and Canada could not concur with the interpretation of those events, as stated in the resolution, or the singling out of a single party. She also noted that the text, received only this evening, was substantially changed from that circulated earlier in the day. There had not been sufficient time for reflection on and consideration of the text.
The representative of Israel said he had voted against the text because it failed to reflect the realities of Palestinian terrorism, distorted the Secretary-General’s report and ignored the deaths of Israelis from a brutal terrorist campaign. On 7 May, just an hour before the Assembly had adopted its resolution, 15 innocent Israelis were murdered. That attack had prompted several States to withdraw their support for the text adopted that day. Was it not enough that Israeli civilians were targeted daily? Was the murder of students at a university or five separate attacks yesterday not enough to garner sympathy to seek a balanced text? Were dead and injured Israeli also not a humanitarian crisis that must be remedied? None of the one-sided resolutions of the Assembly had contributed to security for Palestinians or Israelis. They had only hurt the Assembly’s reputation.
The representative of Australia said that his abstention reflected the view that the resolution did not reflect the Secretary-General’s report, particularly the responsibility of both sides to refrain from violence and protect civilian populations. The deliberate targeting of innocent civilian lives, particularly through suicide bombings, was totally unacceptable. Also, Australia did not regard the procedures applied in today’s session as satisfactory.
The representative of Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that she had voted in favour of the text. The Union had, in its earlier statement, welcomed the Secretary-General’s report and had repeatedly condemned all attacks against civilians, including suicide bombings. It would have preferred that the text more strongly reflected that position. The events described in the report pointed to the urgent need for the parties to return to the negotiating table.
The representative of Guatemala said his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution because the current version was more balanced than the one circulated earlier in the day, and because his country had no wish to break the regional consensus. He confessed, however, that the decision had been a difficult one. The Secretary-General’s report had been very well put together, and Guatemala had been saddened by the recounting of morally repugnant suicide bombings, as well as the civilian deaths caused by military incursions. Guatemala would also echo the Secretary-General's plea to the international community to exert all efforts to ensure that a just and lasting peace, in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions, was reached as soon as possible.
The representative of Peru said his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution, but regretted that the text did not contain a categorical repudiation of the terrorist acts committed against Israeli citizens.
The representative of Paraguay said the new version of the draft was a great improvement over the previous text. But once again his delegation would repudiate the notion of any violent actions committed against civilians on either side. He reiterated the call by the Secretary-General and the wider international community to condemn acts of violence against civilians and to promote the notion of a durable peace in the region through diplomatic means, in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions and other international agreements.
The Observer for Palestine expressed his wholehearted appreciation to all those who had voted in favour of the resolution and thanked those who had undertaken tough negotiations to arrive at a widely held conviction on the issue before the Assembly today. He described the statement made earlier by the representative of Israel as an example of Israeli arrogance and perfidy that had been committed time and again, not only in the face of Palestinian people, but also of the international community as a whole.
He said that representative's response to the resolution's adoption was typical of a colonialist mindset. Israel could not understand that it was an occupying Power –- indeed, the only State that could be classified as such in the United Nations. It was the only country that openly and consistently committed gross violations of humanitarian law, flagrant breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, war crimes and State terrorism. In any case, the Palestinian position
had been made very clearly this morning and had, with the adoption of the resolution, won the respect of the Assembly.
Noting that Israel’s representative had distorted the Secretary-General's report, he said the notion that the report confirmed that no massacre had been committed was simply not correct. The Observer had said that the report had some shortcomings, but that it included important aspects that deserved to be taken into consideration. He looked forward to changes in the situation in the Middle East and hoped that fellow members of the international community would assist in bringing about such changes.
Vote on illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem
and the Rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory
The draft resolution (document A/ES-10/L.11) was adopted by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 4 against, with 11 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia.
Against: Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.
Abstaining: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Honduras, Nauru, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Romania, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga.
Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bhutan, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Grenada, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
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