SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS AGAIN ON MIDDLE EAST, AT REQUEST OF ARAB GROUP, WITH SPEAKERS DEMANDING IMPLEMENTATION OF RECENT RESOLUTIONS

8 April 2002
SC/7358

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS AGAIN ON MIDDLE EAST, AT REQUEST OF ARAB GROUP, WITH SPEAKERS DEMANDING IMPLEMENTATION OF RECENT RESOLUTIONS

08/04/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7358

Security Council

4510th Meeting* (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS AGAIN ON MIDDLE EAST, AT REQUEST OF ARAB GROUP,

WITH SPEAKERS DEMANDING IMPLEMENTATION OF RECENT RESOLUTIONS

Many Stress Need for Deployment of International Observer Force,

Highlight Danger of Attacks across ‘Blue Line’ between Israel, Lebanon

Just four days after adopting its most recent resolution on the Middle East, the Security Council this afternoon, in response to a request by the Arab Group of States, held a public meeting, with speaker after speaker demanding implementation of its earlier resolutions and calling on Israel to withdraw from Palestinian areas.

The meeting, which was suspended until tomorrow morning, was the fourth public meeting on the situation since last Saturday, 30 March, when the Council, through resolution 1402 (2002), called on both parties to move immediately to a meaningful ceasefire and for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah. 

The Council held a day-long debate on Wednesday, 3 April.  The following day, it adopted resolution 1403 (2002), demanding implementation of 1402 (2002) without delay, and welcoming  the mission of the United States Secretary of State to the region, as well as efforts by others, in particular, the special envoys from the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union, and the United Nations Special Coordinator, to bring about a comprehensive, just and lasting peace to the Middle East.

At the outset of today's debate, the Permanent Observer for Palestine told the Council “we and our future generations will never forget what has befallen us at the hands of the Israeli side”.  He described in detail the unfolding humanitarian crisis and said that the Palestinian people would not give up in the face of war criminals or give up their right to Palestine as an independent State with its capital in Jerusalem.  Nor would they abandon the dream of a just and comprehensive peace.  The first step was the immediate and unconditional implementation of resolution 1402 (2002).  “Let’s do that together”, he urged. 

The representative of Israel said that resolution 1402 (2002) had laid out a package of reciprocal steps to be carried out by both sides.  Even if one had not

__________

*     The 4508th and 4509th meetings were closed.

accepted that those were intended to be undertaken in sequence, it could surely be agreed that they should be carried out simultaneously.  Israeli withdrawal, if not preceded by a meaningful Palestinian ceasefire, must, at the very least, be accompanied by one.  To his dismay, all indicators suggested a rejection of that resolution by the Palestinians, whose leadership's steadfast refusal to take any action to halt attacks against Israelis was a demonstration of its refusal to abandon terrorism.

Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, which called for today's meeting, the representative of Tunisia said Israel’s decision to continue with force in the occupied territories was total recklessness and open disdain for the international community.  The occupying Power, in open defiance of all resolutions, had rejected the terms of the recent resolutions and persisted with adamant stubbornness in its all-out ferocious war on Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps, resulting in the death and injury of countless civilians.  Under the tragic circumstances, the Council could not remain idle.

The Russian representative, whose delegation holds the Council presidency for the month, speaking in his national capacity, expressed his profound concern at what was happening.  The information provided during the Council’s private consultations with the Secretariat in the morning had pointed to gross violations of international humanitarian law in the Palestinian occupied territories.  More and more Council members were concluding that only an international presence could reverse the present circumstances, which were extremely dangerous and could undermine Arab-Israeli relations in the long term.  Indeed, a new pocket of tension was already looming along the “Blue Line”.  The Council would persist in seeking implementation of its resolutions, he said. 

Statements were also made today by the representatives of Norway, United States, Ireland, Mexico, Cameroon, Mauritius, Bulgaria, Syria, France, China, United Kingdom, Colombia, Guinea, Singapore, Egypt, South Africa (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain.

The Observer for Palestine and the representative of Israel took the floor a second time, at the conclusion of the speakers’ list for the afternoon.

The meeting began at 3:40 p.m. and was suspended at 6:49 p.m.

The Council will resume the meeting tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. to hear the balance of speakers.

Background

The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in the Middle East.  That decision followed a letter to the Council President from the Permanent Representative of Tunisia, in his capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group for April, to hold "an immediate meeting" of the Council to consider "the continued escalation of the Israeli military aggression against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority, in total disregard of the resolutions of the Security Council, in particular, resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002)" (document S/2002/359).

Yesterday, in response to that letter, the Council held consultations and issued a press statement on the situation.  (For details, see Press Release SC/7357).

The Arab Group letter, dated 6 April, refers, in particular, to the “criminal actions committed by the Israeli occupation forces in the refugee camps in the cities of Jenin and Nablus”, and follows an extraordinary meeting of the Arab Ministers for Foreign Affairs held on Saturday, 6 April, in Cairo.  Also according to the document, the Arab Group requests the Council to consider the adoption of the "necessary immediate measures" to ensure an end to the current tragic situation and the implementation of the above-mentioned resolutions.

Statements

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said Israel continued its bloody military offensive against the Palestinian people and authority.  It used in its offensive helicopters, tanks and many kinds of weaponry.  It further committed more war crimes and engaged in State-sponsored terrorism.  The crimes that had been committed some might find difficult to believe, especially since they took place in full view of the world in the twenty-first century.  The forces of Israel had killed Palestinians in numbers that were impossible to be counted in the last 10 days.

He said Israeli forces had caused the stark deterioration of the humanitarian situation by imposing curfews and depriving human beings of their basic needs.  Water and power had been cut off, homes stormed, mass detentions had taken place, while businesses, vehicles and properties had been totally destroyed. The Israeli occupation forces had also continued their attacks against mosques and churches, including the Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus Christ.  They had also gravely violated the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.  The High Contracting Parties to that Convention should not only take the necessary measures to guarantee respect for the treaty, but were also duty-bound to take measures to try those guilty of war crimes.  He called on the Council to address that issue immediately. 

He said he believed that heading the list of Israeli war criminals was General Shaul Mohaz, the Israeli Army Chief of Staff, who was personally responsible for the many war crimes committed by his forces.  Also won that list were the many leaders and soldiers of Israeli units and helicopter pilots who had committed crimes against civilians.  Those acts had been documented in 110 letters sent to the Council.  Naturally, the overall responsibility for the war crimes lay with Ariel Sharon and his Government.  That was an issue to be addressed at the right time.

He said there was no doubt that a serious stand by the international community against Israeli crimes would help end them and ensure that they would not be repeated in Palestine, or any other place in the world.  The overall military attacks by Israel since 29 March took place after the adoption of Council resolution 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002). Once again, Israel had chosen to ignore the resolutions and not to implement them, in grave defiance of the Council and the provisions of the United Nations Charter, including Article 25. Furthermore, Israel chose to ignore United States President George Bush’s request last Thursday for a cessation of military activities and Israeli withdrawal with no delay.  No delay meant now.  Yet, military occupation continued.  Israel should not be treated as a country that was above the law.  The members of the world community should take action to end such behaviour.

He asked how his people could trust any initiative, or those who promoted those initiatives.  “We will try not to lose hope, but more serious international action is required”, he said.  Chairman Arafat would cooperate with those who wrote the initiatives, including United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. He also stressed the importance of seeking a comprehensive approach to the political situation and stressed that the Council should take the necessary measures in that direction.  The first necessary step was the immediate and unconditional implementation of resolution 1402 (2002).  He also demanded the adoption of another resolution reiterating the seriousness of the situation and putting an end to the one on the ground.

YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said that just over one week ago the Council adopted resolution 1402 (2002), which laid out a package of reciprocal steps to be carried out by both sides.  Even if one had not accepted that those were intended to be undertaken in sequence, it could surely be agreed that they should be carried out simultaneously.  Israeli withdrawal, if not preceded by a meaningful Palestinian ceasefire, must, at the very least, be accompanied by one.  Israeli withdrawal and resolution 1402 (2002) were not supposed to occur in a vacuum.  Israel’s urging that such a withdrawal must be accompanied by a meaningful ceasefire was not a rejection of the resolution, but a call for its meaningful implementation. 

To his dismay, he said, all indicators suggested that the Palestinian side had no intention of even declaring the ceasefire, much less implementing a meaningful one.  That rejection, coupled with the leadership’s steadfast refusal to take any action to halt attacks against Israelis, was a demonstration that their leader had refused to abandon terrorism.  Also, recent evidence had been discovered that the Palestinian Authority had played a central role in supporting and financing terrorist operations.  Scores of documents and thousands of illegal weapons hidden in the Ramallah compound had confirmed, in striking detail, the support provided by Chairman Arafat and other high officials for the terrorist attacks and were proof of their complicity in the murder of innocent Israeli citizens.

Those findings had emphasized the importance of Israeli military operations, which were being conducted in a way that minimized, to the degree possible, harm to Palestinian civilians, he said.  Indeed, the operation was a legal and moral necessity, born of the recognition that the Palestinians were Israel’s neighbours and partners, and would remain so.  The majority of those killed had been Palestinian fighters who had fired on Israeli troops or been engaged in terrorist activities.  Israel would never intentionally target civilian areas. 

This morning, he continued, the Israeli Prime Minister delivered an important statement to the Parliament expressing the wishes of all citizens to arrive at a peaceful settlement to the conflict.  He also welcomed the fact that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia had, for the first time, acknowledged Israel’s right to exist in recognized and secure borders.  And he declared his willingness to talk to any responsible leader in the region, anytime, anywhere without preconditions.

He reiterated his Government’s urgent concern regarding the situation along Israel’s northern border.  Since the Council’s last public convening on Thursday, cross-border violations by the Hezbollah had continued without respite.  Moreover, there had been no movement by the Lebanese, Syrian and Iranian Governments to heed the call of the Secretary-General and the international community and prevent attacks across the “Blue Line”.  Those were an urgent threat to regional peace and stability and carried out with the intention of broadening the confrontation.  The cause of the instability along that border had State support.  The Council must act immediately to end support for Hezbollah and prevent a widening of the current conflict in the Middle East. 

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said the international community and the Security Council must stand united in their demands that Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and the recently adopted texts on the Middle East be implemented.  Norway lent its full support to the recent United States initiative and the mission of United States Secretary of State Colin Powell.  He also stressed that President Yasser Arafat’s ability to function as the leader of the Palestinian Authority must be restored immediately.  There would be now way out of the present dire situation unless that occurred.

He said that yesterday, in a letter to Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, Norway urged Israel to:  ensure the safety of civilians and allow medical personnel immediate safe and unhindered access to the sick and the wounded; lift the curfew within Palestinian cities and permit the entry of food and medical supplies; avoid damage to civilian infrastructure; and facilitate repairs to water and electrical systems.  His country also asked Israel to ensure that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the donor community have immediate safe and unhindered access to, and movement within, the West Bank and Gaza.

He concluded by saying that the developments in the border areas between Lebanon, Syria and Israel had the potential to threaten regional peace and security.  The latest incursions into Israel must stop.  Norway urged all parties concerned to show restraint and de-escalate the situation immediately.

JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said that much had happened since the Council last met in the Chamber on Thursday.  On that day, President Bush had spoken to the parties and dispatched Secretary Powell to the region to implement resolution 1402 (2002).  The Council had now passed three constructive and comprehensive resolutions, and said what needed to be said in a clear and unified voice.  Resolution 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) had formed a road map and a goal.  They were the basis for Secretary Powell’s mission and the efforts of the Quartet, which was due to meet in Madrid on 10 April.  In the region itself, United States Special Envoy Zinni had met with Chairman Arafat last Friday and with Prime Minister Sharon today.  Echoing the Council’s recent calls, Mr. Zinni had focused on the need for an immediate ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal, and agreement from the Palestinian Authority on implementation of the Tenet work plan.

He said that now was the time for leadership on the ground, and in the region.  “We do not need any more resolutions.  We need full implementation of the existing ones.”  Although neither side had demonstrated compliance with resolution 1402 (2002), a high-level diplomatic effort was now under way.  Today, President Bush repeated, once again, that he meant what he said in talks with Prime Minister Sharon.  He had also called on the Palestinian Authority and leaders in the region to stop terrorist activities and stop inciting violence by glorifying terrorism in the State-owned media, or by telling suicide bombers that they were martyrs.  In the absence of clear condemnation by Arab leaders, Palestinians would be convinced that “they have a green light to destroy any hope of returning to a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute”.

He called the Council’s attention to the dangerous situation along the Blue Line.  Hezbollah’s actions were a deliberate effort to escalate the situation and widen the conflict, just as Secretary Powell arrived in the region to promote implementation of the Council’s resolutions.  Daily Hezbollah attacks stood in the breach of implementation and risked provoking escalation.  The assault last week on United Nations’ peacekeepers also showed their contempt for United Nations resolutions and Security Council decisions, and Lebanon’s own obligations under resolutions 425 and 426.  In the current extremely dangerous situation, he called on all sides, especially Lebanese and Syrian leaders with influence over Hezbollah, to exercise maximum restraint and work to prevent seriously destabilizing the region. 

RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said that when resolution 1403 demanded the implementation of resolution 1402 without delay, the Council did not mean that it should be implemented when Israel declared that its current military operations had ended.  It meant that there should be no delay in turning its tanks around and in withdrawing the troops from the “A” areas.  The demand of the Council, therefore, was not for withdrawal when circumstances permitted, or on any incremental basis.  It meant Israeli withdrawal now -— now meaning the fourth of April. Instead, and on the contrary, the Israeli authorities had extended their military operations in Palestinian cities.

The current operation had now resulted in over 200 deaths among Palestinians, many of whom were innocent civilians, he continued.  There had also been very grave violations of international humanitarian law accompanying Israeli military actions.  Ireland had said many times that Israel was entitled to take measures to defend itself against the terrorists who engage in suicide bombings. In doing so, however, it was not entitled to violate international humanitarian law.  It was also not entitled to suppress the economic and social life of an entire population.  It was not entitled to restrict the movement of humanitarian aid or to put people's lives at risk through preventing the movement of ambulances.  Recklessly endangering the lives of civilians was criminal and counter-productive.

The interests of Israeli security were not served by holding the entire Palestinian people in a state of subjection. He, therefore, welcomed the impending mission of United States Secretary of State Powell to the region and hoped that his efforts, together with those of the Quartet and others, would achieve a ceasefire and a return to negotiations.  For the efforts to succeed, they must address concerns on all sides.  The mediators must bear in mind that the Palestinians had the same right as the Israeli people to live in peace and dignity.  They had the same right as the Israeli people to choose their leaders. Treating them with the necessary respect and dignity also meant treating their chosen leaders with respect, dignity and impartiality.  Equally, Israel had an absolute right to the necessary security assurances.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said the confrontation currently taking place in the Middle East would have serious consequences for the future and would encourage the terrorists of tomorrow, while further propelling the spiral of hatred.  The future was truly threatened.  That had been seen by the United Nations and understood by world public opinion, as witnessed in the growing number of mass demonstrations in the streets.  The United Nations was compelled to seek ways to implement international law, and bring about a ceasefire and negotiations for peace.

He said the use of high-impact weapons in highly populated areas must cease, as must prevention of access to humanitarian aid.  Both were violations of international humanitarian law.  The defiance of appeals by the international community led his country to once more appeal to Israel to end its occupation.  Israel would not find the security it sought or prevent acts of violence against its people by violating resolutions and international humanitarian law.

He said the Council must not lose sight of its mandate or its powers. Mexico had a vision of two States living side by side in peace and security.  That goal could only materialize if both sides relinquished violence and reprisals.  The suicide bombings had now been joined by Hezbollah reprisals from Lebanon.  That threatened regional security and would draw other actors into the fray.  Chairman Arafat must make a strong statement against suicide attacks and draw attention to such organizations as Hamas.  He musts state that terrorism was clearly unacceptable and ran counter to the interests of the Palestinian people.  He said it was also clear today that Israelis and Palestinians could not arrive at a solution by themselves, and were both betting on violence.  A mechanism was, therefore, needed to address the situation.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that four days ago the Security Council had called upon the parties to abide, without delay, with resolution 1402 (2002).  That was the best road map towards a final political solution to the conflict.  That solution required the side-by-side existence of two States, within secure recognized borders.  By urging the parties towards an immediate ceasefire and ceasing all acts of terror and violence, the resolution created the conditions for the resumption of negotiations.  Those, in turn, required a return to calm and tranquility.  Unfortunately, since that meeting there had been no real sign that the parties intended to take the “royal path of peace”, as outlined by the Council in resolution 1402 (2002). 

He drew attention to the worsening humanitarian crisis.  He wished to restate to the parties that no final solution could come from use of force or terror.  The peace sought by all had to be built by all parties, and not by force.  Both parties must resolve to build that peace.  It was high time for them to shoulder their responsibilities by immediately implementing resolution 1402 (2002).  He pinned great hope on the outcome of the private meetings that the Council was continuing to hold with the representatives of Israel and Palestine.  During those meetings, the Council had been able to delineate elements that might bring both sides together towards the only acceptable avenue, namely, implementation of the Council’s resolutions. 

JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said Israeli defiance constituted a clear threat to the international community and should not be tolerated by the Council.  Any other country that had challenged Council resolutions in such a manner would have been subject to all kinds of sanctions.  The Council must be strong, forceful and authoritative enough to ensure the implementation of its resolutions.  The present defiance was a challenge to the credibility of the Council.  It must take immediate and concrete action to stop the ongoing violence and the Israeli assault on Palestinians. 

He stressed the need to deploy international observers to the region.  That was the only hope to end the cycle of violence.  The Non-Aligned Movement, on various occasions over the last 18 months, had made various proposals for such an international presence.  Had such recommendations been heeded, the situation in the Middle East today might not be so explosive.  United States Secretary of State Powell did not have a magic wand, and it was important for the Council to consider the deployment of international observers, before a point of no return was reached.

He said the constant violation of international law was almost the norm on the ground.  How could a country be compelled to respect the basic rights of Palestinians in the region? he asked.  Israel claimed that it was acting in its own defence and trying to root out Hamas.  Yet, of the 1,300 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the last 18 months, over 400 were children.  One wondered which side was involved in terror.  If it was not terror, then it closely resembled it and it must stop.  Chairman Arafat remained the only person with whom Israel could make peace.  Any attempt to sideline him was unacceptable.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) supported the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union.  His country was deeply concerned at the continuing crisis.  He also associated himself with the appeal made in recent days by the Secretary-General to Israel to withdraw immediately from the occupied territories.  At the same time, it was crucial that Chairman Arafat appeal to his people to halt suicide attacks and prove that he controlled his troops.  He certainly welcomed the statement made by President Bush last Thursday, as well as his decision to send Secretary of State Powell to the region, and unequivocally supported their efforts.  He appealed to the parties to the conflict to take steps to end that tragic situation.  The humanitarian crisis was looming and the Israeli authorities must prevent it. 

Further, he said that the continued isolation of Chairman Arafat was destabilizing.  He, therefore, called upon Israel to guarantee him unimpeded access.  Another disturbing development was the tension along the Blue Line and violations of the ceasefire by Hezbollah, which could further destabilize the situation in the region.  He condemned the violation of the physical integrity and security of United Nations staff and Israeli civilians.  Clearly, continuation of that tension could worsen the situation in the occupied territories and delay the withdrawal of Israeli troops from those territories.  He also appealed to the Israeli authorities to allow journalists unlimited and secure access to the areas.  A further appeal concerned the security of religious sites, which held religious, as well as cultural and historical, importance.  Overall, the unity of the Security Council must be maintained, no matter what.  Any future action necessary in the coming days must have Council unity. 

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said every member of the Council knew that Israel had refused to submit to the resolutions of the Security Council.  Those texts called upon that country to withdraw from Palestinian towns and territories, as well as to observe the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Looking at the response of the occupying Power, there was an immediate clear and unequivocal rejection of Council resolutions.  The flimsy pretexts being advanced could not be accepted.  The Israeli Prime Minister, this morning, astounded all with more expressions of disdain for the Council.

He said the Secretary-General this morning in Madrid had stated that the whole world had called upon Israel to withdraw. Surely, the whole world, including Israel’s friend, could not be wrong.  What the Palestinians had to endure was enough.  The present scenes on television recalled the Sabra and Shatila massacres of 1982 committed by Ariel Sharon in Lebanon.  The gross violations of Lebanese air, sea and land space were provocations by Israel.  Most of the violations of Lebanese airspace broke the sound barriers and terrorized Lebanese, many of whom had been hospitalized with trauma.

He said Israel was mobilizing its army in liberated Lebanese territory.  Lebanon, however, had no intention of opening a new front.  Israel was responsible for the continuing violations and provocations.  The Lebanese Government had already instructed its forces and detained elements that were operating outside the framework of the law.  They would be tried accordingly and sentenced.

He said raised voices and resolutions were in vain while the Palestinian tragedy continued.  Palestinians were beseeching the Council to come to their rescue in a campaign where planes and weapons were used in ways that surpassed the actions of the Nazis.  The Council had to call on Israel to respect international law, and particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.  There would be no security in the region without a just and comprehensive peace and a true understanding of the roots causes of the problem.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said he fully associated himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union.  He would not repeat, in detail, the substance of his past recent remarks, but those remained current.  The attacks against Palestinian towns and villages had intensified, despite the adoption of resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002).  As underscored by the Council President’s statement to the press last night, the military operations had been marked by numerous violations of humanitarian law.  That was unacceptable.  France appealed to both parties, now, without any further delay, to fully implement resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002).  France rejected any “sequential” or “conditional” reading of those texts.  Israel must withdraw now from occupied villages and towns, and the Palestinian Authority must make the necessary gestures to bring about a definitive end to terrorist attacks.

He said that, in the present dramatic circumstances, the military incursions in the West Bank were extremely serious; it was unacceptable that medical help had been unable to reach the citizens and that consular access was being denied.  Israel must take the necessary measures to be fully compliant with international conventions.  He was also distressed about the situation in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which, as any holy site, must be fully respected.  The actions of the Council must be clearly defined and coordinated with the efforts of the Quartet in the field, leading to an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the occupied towns.  Those actions must be immediately accompanied by a resumption of peace talks, leading to the peaceful coexistence of two independent States within secure recognized borders. 

Such a ceasefire could only be durable if it was accompanied by the resumption of a political process and secured by the continued engagement of the international community with the parties, he said, adding “we cannot leave the parties to their deadly confrontation”.  The deployment of observers or international monitors had seemed to be a necessity for both sides for a long time.  Now, that idea seemed to have made its way, including on the Israeli side, judging by what Ambassador Lancry of Israel told the Council this morning.  Increasing tension in the region, in particular between Israel and Lebanon, could degenerate.  Faced with the risk of escalation, he appealed to the parties to concretely display a sense of responsibility and refrain from any provocation or disproportionate response. 

WANG YINGFAN (China) said Israeli actions in the Middle East had rendered it hopeless to contemplate peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestine.  Such military acts also interfered and undermined the efforts of the international community to combat terrorism.  Ending the violent conflict and promoting peace in Middle East was the most urgent task at hand.  Israel must implement Council resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) and guarantee the safety and freedom of Chairman Yasser Arafat.

He said that condemnation of Israeli acts and the urging of that country to withdraw from Palestinian territory did not, however, imply support for suicide bombings.  Preventing the further deterioration of the situation in the Middle East necessitated the international community taking concerted action.  He said China supported all international efforts conducive to the easing of tension in the Middle East region and would continue to conduct consultations with all the parties concerned.

JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) associated himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union.  He was very disturbed by the rise in tension along the Blue Line, which must be reversed.  He strongly endorsed the Union’s condemnation of the recent attacks and shared the concern of its Irish partners on that issue.  Adding to the Union’s statement, he said his country found the escalating Israeli military action following the adoption of resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) “intolerable”.  That amounted to a defiance of the Council, and he condemned it. 

He demanded the immediate withdrawal of areas under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority.  In addition, he expected Israel to fully respect humanitarian norms and prevent human rights abuses.  On the Palestinian side, whatever the motivation, there had been an equivocation about resorting to violence under a wider scope.  The Palestinian leadership must be unequivocal in opposing suicide bombing and, then, in taking action to see that those were prevented. 

In the context of talk about a further resolution, he advised the Council against the debasing of the currency of its resolutions.  Israel’s actions, while they continued, were amounting to self-condemnation.  He hoped they stopped now, but, if not, the reaction would be far more compelling than another version of the Council’s earlier texts.  He also wished to allow the diplomats in the region to take the operational lead in bringing “this horrific episode” to a close.  Third party involvement had now become absolutely essential, and that could extend to monitoring.  When the Council next put effort into a new resolution, it should be to spell out, with clarity and unanimity, “the political route out of this quagmire”.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the United Nations was accustomed to quoting the best-known resolutions of the Council.  Unfortunately, when those texts were quoted, it was usually when there had been no compliance with them.   As such, the focus of today’s discussions was the unconditional compliance with Council resolutions 1402 and 1403.

There was no argument that could justify non-compliance with those texts, he continued.  Both sides had obligations that must be carried out without delay. Israel had to withdraw and Palestine had to do everything to bring about a ceasefire.  It was time to consider the call for some form of an international presence in the Middle East that would enforce the resolutions.

He said the consensus in the resolutions would only be meaningful if it took place in concert with other actors -- the Quartet, for example.  His country condemned attacks on civilians by suicide bombers and also demanded that the Israeli Government adhere closely to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.  While it was understood that Israeli armed forces were protecting Israeli civilians, the question that begged to be asked was who was protecting Palestinian civilians.

FRANÇOIS LONSENY FALL (Guinea) said the Council must remain attentive to the situation, as that situation continued to deteriorate, despite the adoption, in close succession, of three resolutions.  He deplored the growing number of victims among civilians.  The Council had expended tremendous efforts to bring about the effective implementation of its recent resolutions, in particular, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Palestinian territories.  Israel must renounce the intensification of its military campaign against Palestinian towns and the Palestinian Authority, and cease defying the international community, in general, and the Council, in particular.  Also, the siege of the Palestinian Authority headquarters must cease.

He said that the efforts of the Quartet must be harmonized in order to bring about a settlement of the crisis.  On Wednesday, in Madrid, the Quartet would meet with the Secretary-General.  The world placed great expectations in United States Secretary of State Powell’s trip to the region.  He would have liked that visit to start with a visit to the parties concerned, but he expected a great deal from that important initiative.  Private consultations in New York had revealed a difference of opinion among the parties, and that reflected the situation on the ground.  That practice of consultations with the parties should be formalized. 

Events along the Blue Line were another great source of concern, he went on. All parties must commit to respecting the Blue Line; no action could excuse another.  If the initiatives under way did not bring about an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces, the humanitarian situation could worsen.  Further, the full dismantling and destruction of the Palestinian Authority would lead to an increase in terrorism and the proliferation of unregulated armed groups.  Every measure must be taken for the full implementation of the Council’s resolution, to prevent a final violent settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said many significant diplomatic initiatives had been taken to help implement the Council resolutions, including 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002). But such initiatives could not be a substitute for real action on the ground.  Israel had not withdrawn and had, instead, accelerated incursions into Palestinian territory.  Violence also continued unabated.

She said that before the adoption of the resolutions last week, the Secretary-General had warned both parties that they ran the risk of miscalculating the effects of violence on each other.  Singapore also supported the presence of an international presence on the ground.  Now was the time for the parties to listen to the voice of reason and implement Council resolution 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002).

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation), speaking in his national capacity, expressed his profound concern at what was happening.  The information provided during the Council’s private consultations with the Secretariat had pointed to gross violations of international humanitarian law in the Palestinian occupied territories, including the large number of casualties and impediments to the work of  humanitarian organizations.  Religious holy sites in those territories were also under threat.  A comprehensive settlement could only be achieved through a political dialogue.  He called upon the parties’ leaders to implement the recent Council resolutions, urgently declare a ceasefire and stop the incursion of Israeli forces into Palestinian towns, leading to their complete withdrawal.

He said that freedom of movement should be restored for Chairman Arafat, who should lead the efforts of the Palestinians, in order to normalize the situation.  More and more members were concluding that only an international presence could reverse the present circumstances, which were extremely dangerous and could undermine Arab-Israeli relations in the long term.  Indeed, a new pocket of tension was already looming along the Blue Line.  The Council was united under its recent resolutions and would persist in seeking implementation of its decisions. 

NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said Israel’s decision to continue with force in the occupied territories was total recklessness and open disdain for the international community.  The Israeli occupying Power, in open defiance of all resolutions, had rejected the terms of the recent Council resolutions and had persisted with adamant stubbornness in its all out ferocious war on Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps, resulting in the death and injury of countless civilians.

He said what was being done by Israel constituted self-condemnation.  The Council must put that kind of condemnation in its resolutions.  Under the tragic circumstances, the Council could not remain idle in the face of Israeli actions.  That would be akin to declaring that the international community could not make Israel comply with Council dictates.  That was a dangerous precedent that could threaten international peace and security. 

He underscored the need for rallying all the efforts of the international community, especially the major effective international players, in order to ensure urgent international protection for the Palestinian people and prevent more downward spiralling.  Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat must be freed, while all fetters on Palestinian structures must be removed.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that he was profoundly saddened to see attempts to circumvent international law and marginalize the role of international will, as embodied in the resolutions of the Council.  Everyone watching the continuing savage onslaughts against Palestinians and their cities and towns also saw them continue to resist the forces of occupation.  He was confident that the outcome would be a defeat of the forces of occupation and a victory for the right of self-determination.  The question was how long the world would allow the death of civilians and the destruction of cities and towns and their inhabitants.

He said that Israel was pursing its aggressive operations against the Palestinian people, their homes, schools, hospitals and mosques.  Israel continued to refuse to respond to and respect the repeated resolutions of the Council.  The Israeli Government continued to claim that it was extending its hand towards peace, whereas it was actually using its hand to “hit on” civilians and use “blind armed force”, as it left behind the wounded and dead in the streets.  Those actions were inciting hatred and extremism.  Israelis were claiming that it was raising the banner of democracy and the culture of peace, when, in fact, they were carrying out a policy of aggression and oppression.

Yesterday, the Council issued a statement expressing its profound concern over the non- implementation of its resolutions, he said.  It stated that the continuing violence by the controlling Power was unacceptable.  Once again, he was deeply shocked at the Council’ s failure to stand resolutely and firmly against the Israeli violation of the Council’s resolutions.  Today, the Council timidly and in whispers referred to the violence by the controlling Power.  The Council must be firm and resolute and assume its responsibility in accordance with the United Nations Charter, and not allow “the law of the jungle” to overcome international law. 

He said that regardless of bilateral efforts, the Council should stop the aggression using the mechanisms available to it.  It must order an immediate withdrawal from the Palestinian territories and send an international observer force to guarantee the protection of the Palestinian people and ensure that Israel would never again perpetrate aggressions against them.  Israel had so far refused to allow international observers in the territories.  He fully realized the reasons why; that would imply Israel’s commitment to the Tenet plan and Mitchell report.  The practices of the Israeli Government were deepening the conflict and threatening the future for cooperation and coexistence in the region, of which his country was at the very heart.  He hoped the Council would understand its role. 

JEANETTE NDHLOVU (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said Israel’s attempt to isolate and humiliate President Arafat was a grave error.  He had been democratically elected by the Palestinian people and remained their leader.  As the Secretary-General had noted to the Council on

4 April, the right to self-defence was not a blank cheque.  The unprecedented adoption of three Security Council resolutions within three weeks demonstrated that the international community would not condone the continued massive Israeli military aggression against Palestinian towns and cities.

She said her country’s Chargé d’affaires to Palestine had been among those barred from Ramallah by the Israeli Defence Force.  Israel had no right or jurisdiction to prevent access by diplomats, humanitarian workers and journalists to Palestinian towns and cities.  It had no right to dictate when international representatives to Palestine should or should not function.  It was of deep concern that the Israeli Defence Force continued to deny access, by the Red Cross and other medical or humanitarian workers, to either wounded or dead civilians.

She recalled three suggestions her group had made, which the Council had still to take up.  First was to consider the immediate deployment of a multinational monitoring mechanism or peacekeeping force to ensure observance of a ceasefire and other agreements.  Second was to consider sending a mission for a first-hand impression of events on the ground.  Third was to consider a meeting with Prime Minister Sharon and President Arafat for a first-hand account of the situation on the ground.

In ending, she called for Israel to immediately implement Council resolutions 1397, 1402 and 1403.  She called for it to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and to allow free access to Palestinian towns and cities by medical and humanitarian workers, journalists and international diplomatic representatives.  Finally, she called on Israel to immediately withdraw its forces and to acknowledge the need for a political solution, rather than a military one, to the crisis that its continued occupation of Palestinian land had provoked in the Middle East.

MOHAMMAD A. ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said the situation in the Middle East was becoming graver, due to Israeli persistence in defying international law, demonstrating a willingness for war and a thirst for blood.  Israel believed that brute force was the only answer.  He called on the Council to take the necessary measures to exercise pressure on that country, end the genocide and address the concerns of the Palestinian people.  He added that there had been no opposition to the opinion of Arab people on the core of the Middle East tragedy and its root causes.

He said the situation today was extremely grave.  Media reports demonstrated determined Israeli actions that killed innocent Palestinians and destroyed infrastructure.  Kuwait was requesting the international community to intervene and end the genocide being perpetuated against the Palestinian people.  The siege of  Mr. Arafat’s headquarters should also be lifted, and Israel should withdraw from the Palestinian territory.

He asked the Council to call upon Israel to respect the rule of international law.  A resolution should also propose the dispatch of an international force to restore stability to the region.  It should also urge parties to implement the agreements that they had signed.  The United States Government, one of the sponsors of the Middle East peace process, should exert pressure on Israel vis-à-vis the protection of civilians.  The United States was in position to exert such pressure, because it was mindful of the will and resolve of the international community.

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said he appreciated the convening of the meeting concerning the unprecedented aggression against Palestinians in the occupied territories.  He was meeting today to seek consolation, in light of the unimplemented Council resolutions.  Regrettably, the Council had remained hostage to the situation.  It was inconceivable that its resolutions would not be respected, but to date Israel had continued to defy and disregard them.  The practices of the occupying forces, in particular, in the Palestinian refugee camps in Nablus and Jenin, represented State terrorism.  That barbarity broke out at a time when it was expected that the situation would improve.  Everyone was familiar with the nature of those crimes; even ambulances and medical personnel were forbidden access to the wounded and dead in the streets, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. 

He said that some had persisted in drawing a link between the most recent Israeli escalation and the so-called suicide operations.  How valid was that link? Indeed, since the adoption of the recent Council resolutions, escalation of the situation had been pursued on one side.  It was no longer valid, therefore, to condemn both parties together.  The Council was responsible for dissuading Israel from its unparalleled aggression against the Palestinian people.  It was the Council’s ethical, moral and legal responsibility to halt those massacres.  It must undertake strict measures, in order to apply its resolutions immediately, thereby preserving its credibility.  That was the expectation of the international community and, indeed, the Council’s responsibility.

JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said that it seemed that the current Israeli Government had a well thought-out programme to eliminate the legitimate Palestinian Authority.  New settlements had been built and those had required the acquisition of more land.  Land had, therefore, been confiscated from the West Bank and the Gaza strip.  Israel also needed another 1 million Jewish immigrants, and that again necessitated the building of new settlements.  In order for the Israeli Government to begin implementation of its usurpation programme, it had started a crisis.  Mr. Sharon had, therefore, visited the Al Aqsa Mosque and begun the second intifada.  The cities and towns of Palestine had been transformed into battlefields.  Those were clear signs of Israel attempting to achieve its present objectives by force.

He said Israel had created confusion over the concept of terrorism.  While everyone condemned terrorism, everyone, however, had also condemned occupation and called for its end.  Nevertheless, no matter how much Israel tried to confuse the issue, it would be useless.  The idea of a State of Palestine had been destroyed, complete with the structures that had been put in place.  Israel was determined to destroy the idea of two States and create a fait accompli of just one.  It also wanted to unify the entire Palestinian territory by force.  Israel also had no problem in having the Palestinians as refugees in their own territory.  It was, therefore, clear that the world was going in one direction and Israel in another.

He said Arabs were extending the hand of peace, based on the concept of two States.  Yet, the current Israeli Government was showing no readiness to accept that hand.  Israel wanted to keep the occupied land and secure peace by force.  It had been rare to adopt two Council resolutions on one issue in so short a space of time.  Yet, where was the implementation of those resolutions by Israel?  When a Member State paid no attention to Council resolutions, it was the duty of the Council to enforce the texts.  He also agreed that an international observer force should be sent to the Middle East region.  The time had come for the Council to take practical steps to address the situation in that region.

Mr. AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, took the floor again to respond to the statement made at the outset of the meeting by the representative of Israel.  The Israeli statement, he said, was absurd and, unfortunately, amounted to an attack against President Yasser Arafat.  It contained silly and stupid unsubstantiated allegations, which could not be believed.  The Palestinian people resented and utterly rejected those attacks against their President.  Such an Israeli position reflected their usual arrogance and condescending attitude.  Palestinian leadership was Palestinian business.  It was an attack on a democratically elected President and the symbol of the Palestinian national struggle who had contributed greatly to the cause of peace.  The reality of the matter was that an attack against President Arafat was an attack against any serious potential to reach a political settlement.  Mr. Sharon wanted to get rid of President Arafat precisely because he did not want to reach a political settlement, and not vice versa.

He said that the representative of Israel had talked of documents, intelligence, weapons and signatures, salaries and so forth -– a “James Bond story” not befitting the Council.  From what he had seen, no actual proof had been found about the Palestinian smuggling of weapons.  Palestinian youth in Nablus and Jenin had only their flesh and some rifles.  And, that had all been on television.  Moreover, if anyone could buy the idea of a factory for heavy armaments, which costs $100,000, then everyone could become rich in that industry. 

Mr. Al-Kidwa proceeded to read out a series of quotations from the Israeli leadership reported in the Reuters news service.  Among them:  that the Israeli mission had not yet been completed and the army would continue to operate until the mission was complete and until Arafat's terrorist infrastructure was dismantled and the murderers who were holed up in various places, including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, were caught; and that he promised Mr. Bush he was making every effort to accelerate military movements and withdraw his forces from those places where its operations had ended.  He had made a reference to gangs of murderers whose aim was to throw Israelis out of every home and supermarket.  Was there a stronger call for more excitement and hatred than that? Mr. Al-Kidwa asked.

On the Saudi Arabia initiative, Israel’s Prime Minister had said that, despite the extremist demands, which were included in the decisions of the Arab Summit in Beirut, he had welcomed the fact that such an important person had recognized the right of Israel to live in secure and recognized borders.  

That was a lie, Mr. Al-Kidwa said.  As usual, an attempt to use things to his advantage, while holding onto his basic position.  To his knowledge, the Saudi Prince had not recognized the right of Israel to live in recognized and secure borders.  He had recognized the sincere readiness to do so, provided that Israel undertook a complete withdrawal of the territories it had occupied since 1967.  With respect to what he would do when Secretary Powell arrived, that was another

gimmick, aimed at making further gains, without accepting the necessary “concessions” from the Israeli sides.

A reference during today's meeting had also been made to a draft resolution and the advisability of such a draft, he said.  He definitely saw the logic.  Nevertheless, the central aim of the draft resolution which the Council would consider would deal with the appalling humanitarian crisis that existed on the ground.  In addition, it would put forth at least the initial acceptance of the idea of an international presence, which had the support of many Council members.  There was no escaping the fact that resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) had not been implemented.  Important proposals had been made today.  Hopefully, the Council would be in a position to consider them.

Mr. LANCRY (Israel), replying to the second statement today by the Observer for Palestine, said that it was regrettable that Mr. Al-Kidwa had used terms like silly and stupid to describe aspects of Israel’s earlier statement.  The terms were not part of the customary parliamentary manner and he reserved the right to make a rebuttal later.

The Council President then suspended the meeting at 6:40 p.m.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.