SECURITY COUNCIL DEMANDS IMMEDIATE HALT TO ISRAELI MEASURES IN RAMALLAH, ‘EXPEDITIOUS’ ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL TO PRE-SEPTEMBER 2000 POSITIONS

23 September 2002
SC/7509

SECURITY COUNCIL DEMANDS IMMEDIATE HALT TO ISRAELI MEASURES IN RAMALLAH, ‘EXPEDITIOUS’ ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL TO PRE-SEPTEMBER 2000 POSITIONS

23/09/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7509

Security Council

4614th Meeting (AM, PM & Night)

SECURITY COUNCIL DEMANDS IMMEDIATE HALT TO ISRAELI MEASURES IN RAMALLAH,

‘EXPEDITIOUS’ ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL TO PRE-SEPTEMBER 2000 POSITIONS

Council Adopts Resolution 1435 (2002)

By 14-0-1 Vote, with United States Abstaining

Early Tuesday morning, the Security Council demanded that Israel immediately cease measures in and around Ramallah, “including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure”, following all-day sessions on Monday which heard 45 speakers on the situation in the Middle East in light of the recent upsurge of violence.

In adopting resolution 1435 (2002) by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with one abstention (United States), the Council also demanded the withdrawal of Israeli forces towards positions held prior to September 2000.  It called on the Palestinian Authority to meet its expressed commitment to bring to justice those responsible for terrorist acts.

By other terms of the resolution, the Council reiterated its demand for the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction.  It also expressed its full support for the efforts of the Middle East Quartet and called upon all States in the region to cooperate with its efforts.

As the meeting began yesterday morning, Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the parties in the Middle East to resist a downward spiral into anarchy.  Noting the recent elaboration of a vision for peace by the Middle East Quartet, the Secretary-General said the events of the past few days represented a tragic step in the opposite direction.  In the space of three days, a bomb had exploded in a Palestinian school and two suicide attacks had killed Israeli civilians.  Such acts were morally repugnant and set back the prospect of a just and lasting settlement.

He appealed to Israel to refrain from actions that were in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  He urged all Palestinians, especially the leaders of all political factions, to renounce “this wicked instrument of terror clearly and irrevocably, now and forever”.  The Quartet had called on the Authority to work with the United States and regional partners to implement reform.

Destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, he said, would hamper the ability of Palestinians to respond to that call and also hamper efforts to meet

humanitarian needs.  The action in Ramallah had already prompted mass demonstrations and the postponement of efforts to address key reform issues.

Yesterday’s meeting was requested in a letter from the Permanent Observer for Palestine, in his current capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group.  Citing “the continued escalation of the Israeli military aggression against the Palestinian people”, the letter requested the consideration of “necessary immediate measures to ensure an end to the current tragic situation”, and to implement relevant Council resolutions.

In his statement before the Council, the Observer for Palestine said that, given the destruction of Mr. Arafat's compound, it was clear that there were no limitations on the criminal activity of Israel against the Palestinian people.  That activity, he said, was taking place with impunity while the international community was unable to act, as a result of the position of one of the Council’s permanent members. 

He called on the Council to demand Israel's immediate withdrawal from Mr. Arafat's headquarters.  The only way to end the current tragedy and return to the peace process, he said, was to adopt a comprehensive approach to political, economic and security dimensions at the same time, along with a declaration of the form of a final settlement.  That approach should be enhanced by an international presence of observers or a multinational force.

The representative of Israel said it was no coincidence that terrorist attacks had wreaked carnage in Tel Aviv precisely when security precautions had been relaxed.  It merely affirmed what Israel had always stated -- the only thing standing between Palestinian terrorists and their Israeli victims had been the preventive actions of the Israeli military.  Unfortunately, with every step forward, terrorism forced Israel to take another step backward.  Terror was making the conflict entrenched.

Therefore, he said, the responsibility of the Palestinian leadership was clear -- it must end the financial, logistical and moral support it provided for terrorist organizations, as well as dismantle the infrastructure on which those terrorists depended.  It must also end the relentless incitement to violence in the Palestinian Authority-controlled media and the glorification of violence and martyrdom in Palestinian schools.

He said that all those steps, which were expected by the international community, were within the power of the Palestinian leadership.  They must be taken to reach the only enduring solution to the conflict in the region -- one that led to two States living side by side in peace and security.

Many speakers echoed the Secretary-General in decrying the violence that occurred just as the Quartet efforts gave renewed hope to the peace process.  Many also denounced terrorism while calling for an immediate end to the Israeli siege of the Palestinian Authority's compound. 

Many others trained their criticism on Israel, saying that the suicide bombers were a result of a repressive occupation.  The Minister for Foreign

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Affairs of Bangladesh said it was a sinister reversal of values to criminalize the people of Palestine for their struggle for self-determination.

Yesterday morning, while agreeing with the need for Israel to withdraw from the Ramallah compound, the representative of the United States warned he would not support the adoption of a one-sided text that failed to condemn acts by groups that perpetrated terror and failed to call for the dismantling of the networks that threatened all the people of the Middle East.  After this morning's vote, he explained that the adopted resolution had started that process, but did not go far enough and did not provide the clarity of context a United States draft resolution had provided.

Also speaking yesterday were representatives of Norway, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Cameroon, Colombia, Mexico, Guinea, Syria, China, Russian Federation, Singapore, Bulgaria, Egypt, South Africa, Jordan, Turkey, Bahrain, Iran, Cuba, Malaysia, Denmark (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Tunisia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, India, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Qatar, Indonesia, Cyprus, Nepal, Iraq, Morocco and Mauritania.

The observer of the African Union made a statement.

Representatives of the Arab League and the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also spoke.

The meeting, which began at 10:09 a.m. Monday and was suspended at 1:15 p.m., resumed at 4:36 p.m., was suspended again at 6:34 p.m., resumed again at 8:40 p.m., was suspended once more at 9:53 p.m., resumed once more at 2:17 a.m. Tuesday, and was finally adjourned at 2:35 a.m.

Background

When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, it had before it a letter dated 20 September from the Permanent Observer for Palestine to the Council’s President (document S/2002/1055) in which he requested, on behalf of the States members of the League of Arab States, to convene an immediate Council meeting to consider the continued escalation of the Israeli military aggressions against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority in total disregard of Council resolutions, in particular, resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002).

According to the letter, the Arab Group requests that the Council consider the adoption of the necessary immediate measures to ensure an end to the current tragic situation and the implementation of the Council resolutions referred to above.

In a letter dated 20 September to the Council’s President (document S/2002/1056), the Permanent Representative of Syria supported that request.

Statements

Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN said less than a week ago the Quartet had agreed on the need for a road map to achieve a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  It was agreed it was essential that the Palestinians take all possible steps to improve security by immediately ending violence and terror, but that it should be done in the context of an overall plan, which must address the political, economic, humanitarian and institutional dimensions of the problem.  It was also agreed that the plan should be implemented in three phases, with monitoring by the Quartet and culminating in a final settlement by 2005.  The Quartet had agreed, in short, on the need for a performance- and hope-driven process.  That linkage was essential, he emphasized. Without hope, there would be no performance.

Far from implementing the first steps of the Quartet’s vision, the events of the past few days represented a tragic step in the opposite direction, he said.  At least 54 Palestinians were killed during the last six weeks.  Then, in the space of three days, a bomb exploded in a Palestinian school and two suicide attacks had taken place against civilians in Israel.  Such acts were morally repugnant and must be condemned for the unjustifiable loss of live, and because they set back the prospect for a just and lasting settlement.  It was a strike directly at the very hope which was an essential driver of political progress.

He urged all Palestinians, especially the leaders of all political factions, to renounce “this wicked instrument of terror clearly and irrevocably, now and for ever”.  The Quartet had called on the Authority to work with United States and regional partners to implement reform.  How could the Palestinians respond to that call, he asked, if the Palestinian infrastructure was in the process of being destroyed?  That would set back further the prospect of essential reforms and security performance.  The continuing destruction of capacities to provide basic services would hamper efforts to meet humanitarian needs.  Further misery was hardly a basis for progress.

The Quartet and Arab partners were working intensively to see that security and institutional reforms were implemented.  But that could only succeed if the Government of Israel actively supported that process, rather than hindered it. The systematic and literal grinding down of the Authority’s headquarters in Ramallah, in which a further 10 Palestinians had been killed, was also likely to create greater political instability in the West Bank and Gaza.  It had already prompted mass demonstrations, and efforts to address key reform issues had been postponed as a result.

He appealed to Israel to take greater care to protect the lives of Palestinian civilians and to refrain from policies and actions that were in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The conflict would not be resolved by military might alone or by violent means of any kind.  It was a bankrupt policy that encouraged desperation and strengthened extremists.  In the end, there had to be a settlement in which two States lived side by side within secure and recognized borders.  How many hundreds or thousands more had to die before leaders on both sides found the courage to accept the inevitable? he asked.

Israel needed to understand that there would be no lasting security without a political settlement.  Therefore, even while defending itself against terrorist attacks, Israel should cooperate actively with the Quartet’s efforts to reach a settlement within the next three years.  The Palestinians should understand there would be no settlement without lasting security for Israel.  Both sides must be urged -– by all who had any influence over them -– to accept and act on those understandings, so that at last there could be peace and security for both peoples, as part of a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement in the Middle East.

The situation now seemed to reflect the words of Irish poet William Butler Yeats, "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world ...".  But the international community could not resign itself to such a state of affairs.  It must instead help the best on both sides to regain their passion for peace.  "Let us resist the downward spiral into anarchy", he said. "Let us rebuild a centre that can hold."

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said, clearly, there were no limitations on the criminal acts committed by Mr. Sharon, his Government and army against the Palestinian people.  Unfortunately, it was taking place with impunity, while the international community, represented by the Council, was unable to exercise its responsibilities as a result of the position of one of its permanent members.

He called on the Council to adopt a clear resolution demanding that Israel withdraw immediately from the headquarters of President Arafat, in addition to what the Council might deem appropriate to end the current humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinian people and the tragic confrontation between the two sides.  It was not too late to do that, in spite of the unfortunate and unjustified delay of the meeting of the Council from last Friday until today.

Israel, he said, had not ceased, even during the periods of calm on the Palestinian side, including the last six weeks, its destruction of the Palestinian Authority and its institutions, and the destruction of life of the Palestinians.  It had reoccupied the areas under Palestinian control and had almost returned the situation to what it was before the peace process.  Israel’s goals were clear -- to liquidate the Palestinian Authority and to break the Palestinian leadership, thus creating a situation of vacuum and anarchy and ultimately to subjugate the entire Palestinian people. 

The aim, he continued, was not only to prevent a final settlement that would lead to Israel’s withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, but rather ensuring the continuation of the occupation and settler colonialism.  Mr. Sharon, and some of his supporters, did not want a solution with the Palestinian people; rather, they wanted to force the Palestinians to abandon their rights.  Three decades of defiance by Israel of Security Council resolutions -- what had the Council done?  Unfortunately, it had not done much.  What did it intend to do now?  He hoped the Council would show the necessary seriousness in shouldering its responsibilities towards the implementation of its own resolutions.

The only way to end the current tragedy and return to the peace process was to adopt a comprehensive approach along with a real international presence on the ground, he said.  What was meant by a comprehensive approach was not only to deal with political, economic and security dimensions at the same time, but also the declaration at the same time of the form of the final settlement.  That approach also needed, and would be enhanced, with a real international presence on the ground, which could take the form of observers in sufficient numbers with a clear mandate.  It could also take the form proposed by the Secretary-General, namely, the establishment of a multinational force under Chapter VII of the Charter.

YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said the Council was meeting just days after a Palestinian suicide bomber had boarded a city bus and detonated a powerful explosive charge -- turning an ordinary street in Tel Aviv into a scene of horrific carnage.  When the dust settled, five Israeli civilians had been killed and some 60 others had been wounded.  That incident had followed a day of terror in which three Israelis had been killed in three separate incidents.  All that, he continued, had come after six weeks of relative quiet due to the extraordinary efforts of Israeli security forces, which had recently intercepted or thwarted scores of attempted attacks, including one in which a truck filled with hundreds of kilograms of explosives had been seized.

During the same period, he continued, there had also been some encouraging signs of internal Palestinian dialogue, including the voices of those that were beginning to question the value of the Palestinian campaign of terrorism and suicide bombings.  Israel had been following those discussions with great interest and was cautiously optimistic that they might signal a new direction for the Palestinian people.  As a result of that period of quiet and out of a genuine concern for the plight of the Palestinian people, Israel had begun to scale back some of the security precautions it had implemented.  Various steps had been taken to ease the freedom of movement of the Palestinian people, particularly the suspension of curfews.

It was no coincidence that the terrorist attacks had resumed precisely as those precautions had been relaxed.  It merely affirmed what Israel had always stated -- the only thing standing between Palestinian terrorists and their Israeli victims had been the preventive actions of the Israeli military.  The attacks also affirmed the terrorists' violent rejection of any efforts at reconciliation between the parties.  Indeed, "with every hopeful step forward, terrorism forces us to take a step backward", he said.  Time and again, Palestinian terrorist groups had shown their eagerness to scuttle any attempts to energize the peace process and restore hope to the people of the region.

Therefore, the responsibility of the Palestinian leadership was clear -- it must act decisively and resolutely to combat Palestinian terrorism.  It must end the financial, logistical and moral support it provided for terrorist organizations, as well as dismantle the infrastructure on which those terrorists depended.  The Palestinian leadership must confiscate the weapons of the terrorists, arrest their leaders, and confiscate their funding.  It must also end the relentless incitement to violence in the Palestinian Authority-controlled media and the glorification of violence and martyrdom in Palestinian schools.  It must completely "de-legitimize" terrorism and suicide bombings in the eyes of its people.

Every one of those obligations stemmed from a relevant Security Council resolution, signed commitment or requirement of international law.  Instead of taking action against those it knew to be complicit in acts of terrorism, the Palestinian leadership, in its headquarters in Ramallah, granted immunity and protected them.  He said the leadership must establish itself as the only party with the authority to exercise the use of force.  All those steps, which are expected by the international community, are within the power or the Palestinian leadership.  The only enduring solution to the conflict in the region was the one articulated by President Bush and endorsed by the Council, which would lead to two States living side by side in peace and security.  Israel's enduring commitment to that vision had been endorsed before the General Assembly last week by Israeli Foreign Minster Shimon Peres.

JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) recounted the recent efforts of the Quartet towards a peaceful Middle East with two States living side by side, in security.  As meetings towards those objectives progressed last week, a bomb went off in a Palestinian school and Palestinian organizations took credit for acts of terror against Israelis.  He asked the international community to join him in condemning all those acts of terror.

In addition, he said, Israel’s actions in Ramallah, in destroying the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority, were counterproductive to its own security, as well as regional stability.  Outlining his country’s priorities in the region, he said they were all aimed at a political settlement.  He urged all to support efforts on the ground towards those efforts, but stressed he would not support a one-sided resolution that failed to address the responsibilities of both parties.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) supported the conclusions of last week’s Quartet meeting and the work to formulate a road map that could identify a way out of the present crisis.  Security for both Israelis and Palestinians had to be restored.  Equally important was the need to restore the political dialogue.  The Middle East conflict could not be solved through the use of arms -– it had to be political.  He fully supported the Palestinian reform process.  It was now more important than ever to create an accountable and efficient Palestinian Authority.  Progress had been made, despite the very difficult circumstances in which the reform efforts were carried out.

However, he continued, reforms could not be implemented in a vacuum.  The present security situation undermined the reform efforts.  The renewed attacks on President Arafat’s compound had jeopardized those efforts.  The success of the reforms also depended on Palestinians seeing improvements in both living conditions and in political prospects.  He urged Israel to stop action that undermined the Palestinian reform efforts, and to assist in creating an environment that was conducive to supporting the reform efforts.

Deeply alarmed by the deteriorating humanitarian situation for the Palestinians, he was pleased to hear high-level assurances from Israel of increased cooperation with humanitarian agencies.  However, he noted that officials of those agencies were reporting only marginal improvements on the ground.  While he recognized Israel’s legitimate security needs, the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population must also be safeguarded.  He supported the recommendation of the Bertini Report to dispatch a mission to develop a detailed plan on how to deal with the humanitarian needs.  Also, he urged Israel to fully cooperate with aid agencies and to lift the harsh restrictions imposed on the Palestinians.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), endorsing the statement on behalf of the European Union by the representative of Denmark, said the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories had tragically deteriorated, and new hopes of resuming dialogue and negotiations had been dashed.  They had been dashed by terrorist attacks in Israel, as well as by the terrorist act targeting Palestinian school children.  Hope was also dashed by those who were unable, or did not wish, to put the relative calm that had prevailed over six weeks to good use by continuing military operations during that period, causing the death of numerous Palestinian civilians.

The Israeli army was playing the game of Palestinian extremists, he said. The current actions must be halted immediately.  Laying siege to the Palestinian Authority contributed in no way to counter-terrorism and did not serve the legitimate security concerns of Israel.  Those acts also impeded the capabilities of the Palestinian Authority to combat terrorism.

It was essential that the Palestinian Authority use all means to prevent terrorists from acting and to arrest the perpetrators and commanders, and punish them.  It was also essential for Israel to realize that the sine qua non of security could not be a strategy in itself.  An approach based on security alone had failed.  He welcomed the road map to a resumed peace process of the Quartet, in which the Quartet had an essential monitoring role to play.  Such a third-party mechanism seemed indispensable.  The upcoming international conference might also make a useful contribution to defining the roles of each party.  First and foremost, it was up to the parties to show in the field their dedication to the goals established by the international community, including implementation of Council resolutions, which were equally binding, in totality, upon all parties.

JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that both Palestinians and Israelis must take action to break the cycle of violence.  If the logic of peace were the priority, the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority would be working together to deal with the threat to the peace that they both claimed to seek.    He was seriously concerned with the worsening humanitarian situation.  The desperation of the Palestinians fuelled the extremists and stifled the hopes of   a political process.  While the Palestinian Authority needed to take concrete steps against terrorists, Israel should do more to ease restrictions on the Palestinians, to enable economic life to recover and the humanitarian situation to improve.

His Government’s diplomatic efforts were aimed at achieving an end to the violence and restoring the political process.  However, it had learned that the international community could not impose peace.  “We are all now close to disgust that the parties continue to fail to appreciate that there can be no military solution.”  Only a return to the negotiating table would provide a peaceful solution, which he was convinced both sides wanted and deserved.

Israel had a right to exist in security, he said.  It was entitled to take steps to protect itself from terrorist attack, but those should neither be disproportionate nor excessive.  Deployment of tanks in Ramallah and Gaza and further destruction of President Arafat’s compound were not the answer.  The blockade was unjustified and should end.  The Palestinians had a right to establish a sovereign, viable and independent Palestinian State.  The Palestinian Authority must do all in its power to prevent terrorist attacks.  He stood ready to help it rebuild and reform itself to regain the confidence of the international community in its work to clamp down on violence.  On 17 September, he added, the Quartet set out its commitment to a concrete three-phase implementation road map.  The focus now should be on agreement to a detailed road map and its implementation.  Bad decisions and extremist action were standing in the way.

RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said, at a time when prospects for political progress in the Middle East appeared on the increase and when the international community had been actively engaged in nurturing those tentative hopes, the events of recent days -- suicide bombings that had again taken Israeli lives, a terrorist attack on Palestinian school children, and the attack on President Arafat's compound in Ramallah -- had all come as a bitter disappointment.  Only last Tuesday, the Quartet had committed itself to the early completion of a road map that would guide the parties to a settlement that would secure the legitimate rights of both parties.

Such a road map, he continued, would be the beginning of a process, not the conclusion.  But, it offered a real hope for progress towards the implementation of Council resolutions 242, (1967) and 338 (1993) and towards realizing the vision enshrined in the declaration of the Beirut Arab Summit, in the statements of world leaders, and in Council resolution 1397 (2002).  He said the international community had also seen a strong and encouraging movement towards reform of Palestinian political life in recent months, which held great promise for the establishment of a democratic and accountable government in a future Palestine. The movement had emerged from the demands of Palestinian society itself and had attracted the deserved support of the international community.

However, further suicide bombings, attempted suicide bombings and the reaction of Israeli forces against President Arafat's headquarters had dealt those hopes -- particularly the gathering consensus of many Palestinians that terrorism was a major hindrance to the overall peace process -- a serious blow.  Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs had deplored those despicable acts against Israeli civilians and noted that they were clearly intended to wreck progress towards restoring the peace process.  He noted they had come after a six-week period of relative calm during which there had been no Israeli casualties, but as the Secretary-General's Special Coordinator reported last Friday, more than

50 Palestinians died in Israeli military operations.

He went on to say that his delegation had called on Israel to withdraw from President Arafat's headquarters and to exercise greatest restraint.  It also said the terrorists attacks on the innocent Israeli civilians, for which there could be no justification, must not be allowed to provoke a reaction that, in turn, caused civilian casualties and was totally counter-productive to prospects to resolve the conflict.  Ireland considered those actions by Israeli military forces completely unacceptable.  Grievance, bitterness, insecurity, injustice -– those were the greatest enemies of peace.  Israel wanted and deserved security; the Palestinians wanted and deserved a home that was fully theirs.  The Council must meet its responsibilities in helping achieve these goals.

MARTIN BELINGA EBOUTOU (Cameroon) reconfirmed the need for the political survival of Palestinian political institutions.  To build peace, he said, two sides were needed.  He also unambiguously condemned terrorism in the Middle East. With continuing bloodshed, there was the danger of becoming overwhelmed by despair; it seemed like peace was drifting further and further away.  He echoed the Secretary-General’s call for both performance and hope.

Before the violence, he had called on both sides to adhere to the peace plan being developed by the Quartet.  He once again called on the parties to respect human life, exercise restraint and show greater courage.  It was only dialogue and negotiation that could bring a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.  The relevant resolutions of the Security Council were the basis of that peace, and for the road map of the Quartet.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) bemoaned and rejected the new spiral of violence, both terrorist and military.  He supported the Quartet’s recent initiatives and reiterated that all aspects of a settlement must be addressed simultaneously and with equal weight.  Reform was needed in the Palestinian Authority, but actions to undermine it were also destructive.  The growing humanitarian crisis was of great concern, as well.

Both parties, he said, must do their best not to be directed by the violence.  International humanitarian law must be respected and both parties must work towards a definitive solution through negotiations.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said in the last few days the Quartet’s efforts had offered a glimpse of hope to the international community that peace might be successful.  However, those expectations were thwarted because of the violence of the last few days.  The suicide bomb attacks and the reprisals by Israel were two elements that clearly showed the interminable vicious cycle continuing.  The terrorists carrying out the terrorist acts did so with the clear intent to undermine the peace process.  However, the reprisals by Israel also constituted evident movement backward and were an instrument to thwart the hopes for peace.

Condemning the terrorist acts in Israel, he said nothing could be more effective in preventing the recurrence than action by the Palestinian Authority to neutralize such groups as Hamas, and disassociate itself from terrorism.  But how could the Palestinian Authority do that, if it was subjected to constant harassment and destruction? he asked.  He was convinced that the path of reprisals and efforts to destroy the Palestinian Authority simply encouraged more violence and hatred.

He urged Israel to act in a way that would help to build confidence and trust, including supporting humanitarian assistance to alleviate tension in the Palestinian territories.  It was imperative to face up to the economic and humanitarian situation, which had been deteriorating because of Israeli actions.  He supported the work of the Quartet.

JAGDISH DHARAMCHAND KOONJUL (Mauritius) said if the current situation was not brought under control, there was a risk of broad conflict.  He condemned the continued siege and destruction of President Arafat's compound and demanded an immediate end of the blockade and the withdrawal of the Israeli Defence Force from Ramallah.  The destruction around President Arafat's compound was a serious act of provocation, which would lead to more uncontrolled violence.  He was convinced that Israel’s legitimate concerns would only be ensured through dialogue and cooperation.

The siege would also undermine the reform process, he said.  A few months before the elections, it was important to create an atmosphere conducive to making the elections free and fair.  As long as the root cause of the Middle East problem was not addressed, a solution was not possible. The need of the Palestinian people for a homeland should be looked into seriously.  He supported the efforts of the Quartet and the road map outlined last week towards a two-State solution, based on Council resolutions.  He was, however, convinced that after the elections the establishment of a Palestinian State should take place as an effective measure for curbing violence.  There must be a strong commitment on both sides to achieving those goals.  Israel should stop the illegal settlements, among other things, and the Palestinians must stop the violence.

The humanitarian situation required immediate implementation of the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s humanitarian envoy, he added.  Israel should also release the tax revenues due to the Palestinians.  A sequential approach was not going to work and, therefore, he supported a parallel approach in which the diplomatic and political process proceeded along with discussions on security.  It was essential that the centrality and credibility of the Council be respected by all.

MAMADY TRAORE (Guinea) said that reprehensible acts of the past few days  set back the cause of peace and the cause of Palestinian self-determination.  He condemned both suicide bombings and the siege of Palestinian Authority headquarters.  The sole solution was the cessation of hostilities and the return to negotiations for a peace based on relevant Security Council resolutions.

The international community was bound by duty to continue working for a peaceful agreement between the two parties.  He supported the Quartet’s initiative towards a road map to reach that agreement.  He said, with strong international support, he had no doubt that it could still be achieved.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said that the situation in the Middle East was on the brink of explosion.  In total impunity, the Israeli military had committed heinous crimes against Palestinian civilians, in total defiance by the rules of ethics and civilized human behaviour.  It was able to do so because it was armed to the teeth with both nuclear weapons, and bulldozers to destroy the houses of Palestinians.

Israel continued to defy Security Council resolutions, he said, as part of a strategy to wage war, perpetuate occupation and suppress aspirations for self-determination of the Arab peoples in the territories.  Nablus had been under long-term siege and 80 Palestinians had been killed in a month in a half, with silence from the international community.  He asked if that represented a new kind of international law.  He urged the Council to support the minimum compliance of Israel with such law, through a new draft resolution.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said he condemned the destruction of the headquarters of President Arafat, which also endangered his safety.  He demanded that Israel end the siege and ensure President Arafat’s safety and dignity.  He also condemned the suicide bombings in Israel.

He said during the past cycle of violence, Israel and the Palestinians had suffered immeasurable losses.  The excessive retaliation by Israel had not allowed them to achieve peace and security.  The active participation of the international community in the peace process was, therefore, indispensable.  The recent proposals by Saudi Arabia and the road map of the Quartet, among other things, had been positive developments.  However, the cycle of violence had not been broken.  The international community and the Security Council must, therefore, exert greater efforts.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the situation in and around the Palestinian territories was threatening to drift out of control.  The terrorist actions in Israel had been followed by Israeli action in Ramallah and the destruction of President Arafat's compound.  There were dead and wounded as a result of demonstrations in the territories.  That had happened just after the meeting of the Quartet.

He said the extremist forces were not interested in a peaceful settlement of the conflict.  It was important not to let the opponents of the peace process achieve their goals.  It was also important to end the blockade and destruction of the headquarters of the leader of the Palestinian Authority, so that there would be some possibility for the Authority to reintroduce order and halt terrorist acts.  It was important to use all mechanisms to halt the deterioration of the situation, and the Council had an important role to play in that.  The Quartet’s efforts had opened a path towards a settlement on the basis of the Council’s resolutions.

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that it was necessary to rebuild a “centre” in the Security Council for action on the Middle East.  Singapore called for the end of terror and extreme acts on both sides.  Israel must end its incursions, and the Palestinian Authority must put an end to terrorist attacks and suicide bombings.

He continued to support the efforts of the Quartet and its detailed, three-phase road map that included a third-party monitoring mechanism.  He hoped that the Quartet bore in mind that it must deliver results soon, and not be held hostage by the violence, or the process would be damaged.  The humanitarian dimension was also important, and he supported immediate relief efforts; Israel’s obligations for access were clear in that regard.  It was particularly important to implement relevant Security Council resolutions to move towards a lasting peace.

Council President STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria), speaking in his national capacity, supported the statement to be made by Denmark on behalf of the European Union.  He strongly condemned the violence that had caused the deaths of innocent civilians and the destruction of property.  He deplored both the terrorist bombings and the isolation of President Arafat.  Both peoples had suffered from those acts.  They must cease.  The Palestinian Authority must end suicide bombings and Israel must end its siege.

What was needed, he said, was direct negotiations between the parties, and he welcomed the recent Al-Fatah pledge to work for peace.  The recent Fatah call for a strike does not further that cause, however.  It was urgent to end the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories.  There had been hopelessness in the region; the Quartet’s efforts provided a glimmer of hope.  He appealed for reason and compromise to prevail.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said over the last six weeks the Palestinian people had exercised self-restraint, in the hope of an entente that could open the way for serious peace negotiations.  That self-restraint had taken place despite the Israeli violence during that period, resulting in the continuation of killing of Palestinian civilians.  Israeli military actions, starvation and destruction of the human and economic infrastructure of the Palestinian people would fail. Violence would only generate violence.  Israel could not overcome the will of the Palestinian people in resisting occupation, regardless of their military equipment, and should recognize that goodwill and an end to occupation would be the key to security and peace.

He said a hand “bathed in blood” had raised the Israeli flag on top of the headquarters of the Palestinian leader.  The Palestinian people would bring down that Israeli flag.  Egypt condemned violence against civilians on all sides, but called on Israel to put an end to all practices against the Palestinian people and its President.  Real security could only be achieved through peace based on respect for the rights of all.  Israel should refrain from oppressive acts, withdraw from occupied territory and support establishment of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.  The international community must put an end to the tragedy and impose international humanitarian law, including providing international protection for the Palestinian people.  The Council, over the last few days, had acted as if the events had taken place on another planet.

REAZ RAHMAN (Bangladesh) said it was a matter of grave concern that the latest Israeli military aggression threatened President Arafat, elected leader of a nation, Nobel Laureate for Peace, and embodiment of the Palestinian cause.  The policy pursued by the Israeli Government seemed to be aimed at destroying not only the physical infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority, but also the entire edifice of peace constructed through Oslo and Madrid.  The Geneva Conventions were being relentlessly flouted, and all norms and mores of international law were being breached.

He said, in a sinister reversal of values, the people of Palestine were criminalized for their resistance, for their struggle for self-determination.  The suicide bombings were used as a pretext for attacks on the Palestinian Authority, despite President Arafat’s public and unequivocal condemnation of those acts.  The Palestinian Authority could not be held responsible for those individual acts. Experience had demonstrated that the security of Israeli civilians was neither enhanced by retaliation, nor by destroying the Palestinian institutions.

The plan of the Quartet could only be executed if Israel was engaged in   the peace process.  While welcoming the initiative for an international peace conference, he said the Council should revisit the Secretary-General’s proposal for an international force.  The response to the conflict must be sought in the root causes, not by trying to make the law of the strongest prevail.  The path   to justice and to peace was laid down in Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).  Implementation of Council resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002) could be a meaningful beginning.  The Council needed to secure Israeli compliance to its resolutions, to have its forces withdraw from Palestinian territories, and to end its aggressions against the people of Palestine.

JEANETTE NDHLOVU (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that today’s meeting was in response to the Israeli military onslaught on the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.  Israel, she noted, had yet to comply with Security Council resolutions that called for the withdrawal of its forces from Palestinian towns and cities.

She unreservedly condemned the killing of civilians, whether they were Israelis or Palestinians.  The hopelessness in the Middle East was brought about by unabated occupation and illegal Israeli practices in the territories.  The draft resolution before the Council sought to address the fundamental requirements for the resumption of a meaningful political process that would lead to a comprehensive solution to the crisis.  For that objective, Israel must withdraw immediately to pre-September 2000 positions, and all violence must cease.  In addition, all Security Council resolutions must be implemented; otherwise, credibility would be undermined.

ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said that Israel still attempted to subjugate the Palestinian Authority.  He called on all parties to submit themselves to the results of the last meeting of the Quartet, based on the vision of two States living side by side in peace, and the end of Israeli occupation of the territories.  He condemned Israeli actions that undermined that peace.  He also reiterated Jordan’s condemnation of terrorist attacks, which were attacks on all peoples of the region who wished to live in peace.

He called on all parties to exercise restraint and shoulder their responsibilities to bring about a peace based on the Madrid framework, relevant Security Council resolutions, and the recent Arab peace initiatives.

UMIT PAMIR (Turkey) said his country strongly and unequivocally condemned all acts of terror and violence.  Fighting terrorism was not only a sovereign right of States, but also a moral obligation incumbent upon each and every member of the international community.  He welcomed the call of President Arafat to the Palestinians and to all parties to halt any violent attacks inside Israel.

His country deeply regretted the morally repugnant suicide attacks targeting civilians, and deplored that Israel once again used harsh military measures in Palestinian cities, in particular, in Ramallah.  He called upon the Israeli Government to put an immediate end to reoccupation and urged it to stop destruction in the Palestinian cities.  He also called upon the leadership of Israel to think about the possible consequences of isolating President Arafat on the ongoing Palestinian reform, in particular, and on the fragile peace process, in general.

He hoped that the opponents of durable peace in the Middle East would not  be given another opportunity to undermine the intensified efforts of the international community towards achieving a final settlement based on the common vision of two States -– Israel and an independent, viable and democratic Palestine –- living side by side in peace and security.  He encouraged all parties to assume their responsibilities to seek a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict based on Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002), along with the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace, and the implementation of all existing agreements between the parties.

The meeting suspended at 1:15 p.m.

When the meeting resumed at 4:35 p.m., JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said that Palestinian students were using underground passages to replace their classrooms, because of the Israeli siege of their towns.  As that situation went on, it could increase their hatred and cause more violence.  Combining that fact with that of the destruction of Chairman Arafat’s compound and the prospect for peace was seriously threatened.  The siege must end, and Israeli forces must withdraw.

He said peace could only come about through negotiations, but those must be preceded by preliminary steps that seemed beyond the grasp, because of Israel’s defiance of the international community.  Israel was also exploiting the fight against terrorism.  The Arab countries -– as shown by their peace initiative -– wanted a just and comprehensive peace, based on Security Council resolutions. Israel had not yet responded to that initiative; events on the ground demonstrated it had no interest in peace.  He appealed to the Council to guarantee implementation of its resolutions and urged it to vote for the Arab draft resolution that was being proposed.

YAHYA MAHMASSANI, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said the Council met to deliberate the developments in Ramallah in the aftermath of the Israeli acts of aggression against President Arafat.  The Israel Government had declared that President Arafat was irrelevant.  If that was the case, why would Israeli forces lay siege to the compound? he asked.  The logic of force was allowed to prevail over negotiations.  That policy had already proven its failure, as peace and security to the Israeli people had not been realized.  When, after  50 years of war and violence, would the Government of Israel be convinced that the policy of force would not settle the crisis?

The Israeli violations of international humanitarian laws and Geneva Conventions had become commonplace, he said.  Citing the number of people killed, wounded and detained over the last two years, he noted that scores of houses had been demolished and that many new settlements had been established.  The humanitarian situation in the territories was deteriorating.  The crux of the situation was the refusal of Israel to withdraw.  As long as the occupation continued, resistance against it would also continue.  The Arab States had acted for peace as a strategic choice and had presented a peace initiative at the Beirut Summit, which Israel had rejected.  He questioned why double standards were applied, and why Council resolutions on Israel were not enforced as they were on other countries.

JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) said that by launching a new round of violence, along with making an issue of the Palestinians in the compound, the Israelis sought to sabotage last week’s efforts in New York.  With their actions of recent weeks, the Israelis were deliberately seeking to provoke a response and, thereby, finding a new excuse to derail any efforts that might lead one day to the restoration of the rights of the Palestinians.  The ongoing siege of President Arafat’s compound and what had preceded it in previous weeks confirmed, once again, that Mr. Sharon did not believe in a negotiated settlement.

In the midst of the tragic events taking place, the international community must contemplate on the reasons that prompted Palestinian youngsters to sacrifice their lives, he said.  It should be borne in mind that the exceptionality of the response demonstrated the exceptional ruthlessness of the crimes committed against the Palestinian people over a long period of time.

It was time, he said, for the Council to act more resolutely and demand full compliance with its resolutions.  It was very unfortunate that those who sometimes stretched and interpreted the Council’s resolutions just to advance their own narrow interests had no hesitation in flouting the letter and spirit of clear-cut resolutions on the Palestinian question.  The selective enforcement of the Council’s resolutions had an adverse impact on the authority of the Council, and undermined the overall international security system.  It was also time for the Council to seriously consider the establishment of an international force to provide basic protection for the defenceless Palestinian civilians.

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BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said for the third time in six months, Israeli tanks and bulldozers had broken into the facilities of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, toppling buildings, cutting off water, and threatening the lives of President Arafat and a group of his men.  Those acts and violations of humanitarian law were the result of the inaction of the Council and the arbitrary use of veto power by a permanent member.  That world super-Power -- resolved to make war against Iraq, either by imposing it on the Council or by acting unilaterally -- was preparing a list of violations of Council resolutions by that country to justify its action.  Why not make such a list of violations by Israel? he asked.

If the United Nations was truly worried about a supposed presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, why did it not demand of Israel to destroy them immediately? he asked.  By what moral right did a country speak of credibility, when that same country, using the veto, had prevented the Council from using its influence in the Palestinian question?  Meanwhile, the Palestinian people remained unprotected, as the Council had not been able to act on a proposal of the Secretary-General to send an international protection force.  The United States must suspend financial support for military supplies for Israel that were used against civilians.

Israeli State terrorism must come to an end and the violations of human rights must be halted, he said.  The illegal occupation of Palestinian territory had to end.  Innocent Israeli civilians were also victims of the cycle of violence caused by their Government’s actions.  He also demanded a halt to the repression of the Palestinian people who protested the actions of the Israeli Government.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) strongly condemned the brutal military assault and siege on the headquarters of President Arafat in Ramallah.  Those actions had placed President Arafat in serious danger and had further undermined his reform efforts.  It was obvious that he could not be an effective leader when his ability to exercise power and authority was systematically being undermined.  President Arafat had repeatedly condemned attacks against Israeli civilians and declared them as harmful to the Palestinian cause.  If Israel sincerely sought peace with the Palestinians, it must abandon those tactics of terror in favour of constructive dialogue and engagement.

He said the recent spate of violence was a wake-up call for the international community.  Notwithstanding preoccupation with other equally important concerns, the long-standing issue of Palestine demanded the international community’s immediate and undivided attention.  The increased tensions in the Middle East, due to the issue of Iraq, increased the need for rapid positive movement on the Israeli-Palestinian track.  The issue of Iraq should not be used as a cover by Israel to intensify its practice of State terrorism.  Only an interposing international protection mechanism could monitor the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, as well as provide for the much-needed protection of the Palestinian people.

Concerned about the dire and deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground, he condemned the restrictive measures by Israel, which had aggravated the already overwrought population living in the occupied territories.  He welcomed the efforts of the Quartet and others in addressing the humanitarian situation.  He urged the Council to take a more active role in the efforts to find a permanent settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the relevant Council resolutions.  In implementing its resolutions, the Council must ensure consistency and evenhandedness in respect of all its resolutions, including those pertaining to the question of Palestine, which had been ignored by Israel with impunity.  A selective approach would only undermine the Council's credibility, he said.

ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, deplored the fact that civilians on both sides of the conflict continued to suffer from violence, with terror for ordinary people in the streets of Israel and the brutality of occupation for the ordinary people in the Palestinian territories.

Israel, she said, must end the occupation of Chairman Arafat’s headquarters, and Chairman Arafat must do his utmost to stop the terror.  The recent setbacks came at a time when there had been hope that the political process could be restarted.  The Union strongly called on both sides to show their commitment to peace by acting with maximum restraint.  Force could not defeat force.

The Union, therefore, welcomed the promise by Fatah that it would prevent attacks against Israeli civilians, and she called on other Palestinian groups to do likewise.  Recalling recent Quartet statements condemning all violence in the region, she reconfirmed the Union’s strong will to stand by those who sought permanent peace and security, and to work relentlessly towards that goal within the Quartet and with the regional parties.

NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said that Israel, with its intransigence and barbaric actions, was impeding the peace process, despite all the efforts made by the Palestinians, including reforms and six weeks of quiet.  He condemned the siege of President Arafat’s compound and the policies that sought to starve Palestinians and deprive them of their lands.  He called on the international community to urge Israel to comply with Security Council resolutions and immediately withdraw to positions it held before September 2000.

He reaffirmed the proposal of Algeria’s President for the creation of a mechanism for the protection of the Palestinian people against Israeli practices.  Efforts must be redoubled to create two States with recognized borders, based on the Madrid framework and based on the principles of land for peace.  The proposal before the Council required the minimum of acceptable actions by Israel:  the end to the threat against President Arafat and the immediate withdrawal of forces from his compound.  There must be, he said, an end to the double standard in the treatment of Israel.

ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) said Palestine had been occupied during the period of the British mandate.  In 1948, the occupying Power had established its State in Palestine using people who had not been born there and could not claim the land was theirs.  The Israeli objectives since that time remained secure and recognized borders.  The Arab objective had been the liberation of Palestine.  Since 1967, the Arab objectives had receded in a shameful manner.  The Arabs had accepted Oslo, Madrid, Camp David and everything they had been asked to sign.  In return, all concessions made had received nothing in return.  That proved that the occupation authorities in Palestine did not desire or need peace.  They were only seeking the destruction of any initiative aimed at establishing peace.

The Council had seen what had happened to international peace and security in the region without being able to take any action.  That meant the Council did not serve the cause of international peace and security.  If the Council was unable to discharge its responsibility, then the people whose land was occupied would have to resist such occupation.  The Palestinians were free to defend themselves.  They were not terrorists.  The terrorists were those who occupied their land, he said.

If the Council was unable to discharge its Charter duties, he said, then at least once it should boldly condemn the aggressor and occupier.  He warned that otherwise everybody in the region would become a bomb.  The Council had been trivialized by the Zionist authorities, because they had not complied by any Council resolution.  The Council had failed to send observers.  It was high time for the Council to restore some credibility.

MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) said the last two years had witnessed the loss of innocent lives and the indiscriminate violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people.  The latest in the long series of unabated provocations had been the demolition of the Ramallah compound that housed important symbols and elements of the anticipated Palestinian statehood.  It was regrettable that that attack had been carried out at a time when the Middle East Quartet had just declared its agreement over a three-phase plan of action for achieving a two-State solution within three years.

He said the Israeli assault, the third since March, and the decision to completely isolate President Arafat constituted a blatant violation of all norms of international law, and further aggravated the tense situation.  It seemed that the occupation forces wanted to submerge even the traces of a derailed peace process in the dust of demolished Palestinian settlements.  By not adequately addressing the root cause of the Palestinian problem, namely, the preservation and realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, peace in the Middle East had been made hostage to an uneasy situation prone to eruption at even a mild trigger.

The Council must be able to ensure: an immediate end to the siege of President Arafat’s headquarters; non-negotiability of the fundamental rights of the occupied people; respect for and urgent implementation of Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002); a permanent end to the provocative construction of illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories; and establishment of a mechanism to fix the responsibility for violation of the humanitarian law by the occupation forces.

ELFAITH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said that once again the Council was meeting to discuss Israel’s flouting of international law.  Since that country was continuing its brutal acts, it would probably not be the last such meeting.  The deplorable repetition of the pattern put into question the credibility of the Council.

He asked how the inaction on the part of Council could be explained.  The Security Council should shoulder its responsibility and force Israel to withdraw, forthwith and unconditionally, from President Arafat’s compound and the reoccupied territories.  It was the least that could be done to save the integrity of the Council.

VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India) strongly deplored Israeli retaliatory measures against President Arafat and believed them to be counter-productive.  He said President Arafat remained the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and any attack against him would seriously undermine efforts to find a solution to

the conflict.  He called upon the Israeli Government to completely withdraw their forces from President Arafat's compound forthwith and work with the Palestinian Authority in de-escalating the situation.

He said the extent of the continuing humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza had been highlighted by the report of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East.  The Secretary-General had reported that despite high-level Israeli assurances of increased cooperation with aid agencies, there had been only marginal improvements on the ground. He urged the Israeli Government to do all that was possible to alleviate the social and economic plight of the Palestinian population by lifting closures and blockades and by releasing the finances due to the Palestinian Authority.

He said the resurgence of violence threatened to derail efforts at peace, as did military measures.  He condemned suicide bombings and violence against innocent civilians.  The answer to the issue of the Middle East lay in persevering with efforts by all concerned towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict, and in not allowing vested interests to derail a process designed to bring peace, security and economic well-being to an entire generation of people in the region. He called for continued forward movement in realizing the vision of two States living side by side within secure and recognized boundaries based on United Nations resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), and 1397 (2002).

FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said the current Israeli Government had sabotaged any peace efforts.  It continued to liquidate Palestinian leaders and expand Israeli settlements.  The Israeli Government had used excessive force.  The siege of the Palestinian President and threats to bomb the compound were intended to make him give in to Israeli demands.  The Council had a responsibility to face any threats to international peace and security, including Israeli practices that terrorized Palestinians.

The international community should force Israel to stop its practices and should provide the necessary protection of innocent civilians and the implementation of Geneva Conventions, he said.  The siege of the Ramallah compound should end, and Israel should withdraw to the September 2000 lines. ,There was a dire need for intervention by the international community, to help both parties control the escalation and put an end to the spiral of violence.

Concentrating on the security side only had become an obstruction to the resumption of political negotiations, he said.  There must be mutual and balanced responsibilities.  Security was a comprehensive concept and commitment was necessary by all parties.  The fact that Israel had an exceptional status in the international community was not acceptable.  Finding a political settlement was necessary, as was the establishment of a Palestinian State side by side with the State of Israel.

The President then suspended the meeting to allow Council members to move into consultations. 

When the meeting resumed, ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that Israel had chosen, with its habitual arrogance, to destroy the remnants of the facilities of the Palestinian Authority.  Those actions showed the determination of Israel to annihilate any hope of reviving the peace process, by trying to discredit the very concept of a viable Palestinian State with its war machine.  The Council must immediately put an end to that.  Any delay on the part of the Council would be a serious dereliction of its responsibilities and would seriously damage its credibility.

The Council could prevent that by calling for an immediate stop to the terror campaign, for Israel’s withdrawal from the Palestinian towns it had been occupying, for the dispatch of an international presence, for a peace based on all relevant Security Council resolutions, for the principle of land for peace, and for the establishment of a Palestinian State with Al-Quds as its capital.

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said that Israel’s aim was to undermine the Palestinian Authority, even while it was demanding that the same Authority stop suicide bombers.  Everyone rejected suicide bombings, but it was necessary to think of the motives for such acts.  Occupation, repression, attacks, killings, closings and blockades all lead to desperation and to that kind of action. 

Palestinian violence, he said, was simply a reaction to the repression of the occupation.  Israel had proved it was not interested in pursuing comprehensive peace.  The bare minimum that the Council should do today was to adopt a resolution that ended the siege of Chairman Arafat and called for Israeli withdrawal from reoccupied Palestinian towns.

MOCHAMAD SLAMET HIDAYAT (Indonesia) said he was concerned at the recent attack or the headquarters of the President of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.  It not only endangered the personal safety of President Arafat, it could also ignite further violence and threaten the very future of the peace process.  He once again urged Israel to comply with the relevant Council resolutions calling for its immediate withdrawal from Palestinian towns and the cessation of its aggression, and demanded an immediate end to the siege in Ramallah.

He was also concerned that the reoccupation of Palestinian cities and the continuing policy of closures, curfews and severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of persons and goods by Israel had further compounded the dire humanitarian crisis.  All those acts, which violated the most basic provisions of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, must be terminated.  Unless there was a reversal, the current situation could only lead to further distrust, misery and even more violence.

It was the responsibility of the international community and the Council to continue the search for peace in the Middle East, he said.  The prospect of peace rested on the full implementation of all relevant United Nations resolutions, including Council resolutions 242, 338 and the recognition of the principle of land for peace, which would lead to the realization of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and internationally recognized boundaries.  He called on the Council to take appropriate and urgent action to avert further deterioration of the situation.

YIORGOS CHRISTOFIDES (Cyprus), aligning himself with the statement of the European Union, said his Government condemned terrorist acts and suicide bombings.  The continuing occupation and the destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure did not create a climate conducive to reconciliation.  The cycle of violence must be broken.  There could not be a military resolution or an imposed settlement.

He had hoped that the absence of terrorist acts for six weeks would have led to intensified efforts towards a road map for achieving the goal of the international community for the existence of two States, living side by side within secure and internationally recognized borders as envisioned by resolution 1379.  His Government was concerned about the disproportionate Israeli response to suicide bombings.  He could not understand how the siege of the headquarters could lead to an increased Israeli security.

He called on Israel to lift the siege without delay and reiterated the need for implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions as well as the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said that the escalating violence in the Middle East had reached new heights in the past few days, with the excessive reaction of Israel to the latest suicide bombings.  Palestinians were living in profound hardship.  That must change.  Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories, lift the siege of Palestinian towns and not harm Chairman Arafat. 

He supported Israel’s right to live with security, but no military solution would achieve that, only a negotiated settlement would.  Meanwhile, the international community must assist in both the areas of security and humanitarian aid.  Geography and history had put the Israelis and Palestinians together.  The international community must do everything it could to find a comprehensive peace.

PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal), President of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said his Committee was particularly concerned by the rapid deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.  The responsibility for that situation lay with Israeli security policy.  The subhuman plight imposed on the Palestinian people was due, ironically, to a people that had been subject to such treatment in their recent past.  Such treatment would not bring about either peace or their own security.  True peace could be based only on justice; Israel would never live in peace and security until the occupation ended.

Such a peace could only be based on the relevant Security Council resolutions and the realization of the aspirations of the Palestinian people.  He appealed to the Council to act towards that objective.  It must demand that Israeli forces withdraw immediately from Palestinian territories and end their siege of the compound.  His Committee also supported the Saudi peace plan and its immediate implementation, along with an international force to protect civilians of the region.  In view of the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation, the Committee urged the international community to increase its assistance and urged Israel to act in conformity with the Fourth Geneva Convention.  He reiterated his Committee’s condemnation of terrorism against any civilian population.

MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) called on the Council to discharge its responsibilities to protect and secure international peace and security through providing protection to the Palestinian people, something which had not occurred so far.  The Zionist occupying forces had reoccupied President Arafat's compound and killed and injured a number of citizens in a new defiance of international law and Council resolutions.  At a time when the international community was incapable of taking measures to protect the Palestinian people, war crimes by the Zionist entity escalated.

Siege, State terrorism and withholding water and food were weapons traditionally used against the Palestinian people in addition to more conventional weapons.  Those weapons were used against an unarmed people with unprecedented brutality before the whole world’s eyes, and constituted war crimes, crimes against humanity, as well as State terrorism.  The fact that the international community did not hold the Zionist entity to task was an application of double standards, he said

The spontaneous demonstrations of the Palestinian people in support of President Arafat were a clear message to those who wanted to change governments in accordance with their own interests.  The siege on President Arafat was an enormous challenge to resolutions of international legality and a blatant violation of international law and the Charter.  The Council had, therefore, the duty to take the necessary measures to protect unarmed Palestinian people and their legitimate leadership from the Zionist war machine.  The Arab draft resolution submitted was less than the bare minimum.  Any opposition to that resolution reflected the policy of might, something which the Council should end.  Otherwise, an explosion would be inevitable.

MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said all had seen how the Israeli bulldozers had demolished the corridor that separated Arafat’s bedroom from the meeting space of the building.  Israel’s isolation of the Palestinian President and its demand for the handing over of some of his associates could only be seen as a policy of humiliation of the Palestinian leadership and the destruction of its authority.  Naturally, the Palestinian people had demonstrated in support of the Palestinian Authority, and the response to that had led to killing of innocent civilians.

He said it was high time for Israel to understand that its security was inextricably linked to a more serious cooperation with the Palestinian Authority.  During recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority had been making strenuous efforts to reform its structure.  It was also high time for the Council to discharge its responsibilities and thereby avert further deterioration of the situation.  He deplored all acts of violence that targeted innocent civilians, and hoped the Council would condemn such acts and adopt the necessary measures to end them.

The Council was called upon to adopt a resolution that would give a breath of hope for peace.  He trusted the resolution would return the negotiations to their correct path.  A just peace in the Middle East would ensure the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to an independent State with

Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, and ensure the security of all people in the region.

AMADOU KEBE, permanent observer of the African Union to the United Nations, said his organization had come to the Council whenever a spiral of violence had gone beyond the tolerable.  Such was the case with Israel’s attempt to eliminate President Arafat.  If the Council did not act, it would have become complicit in the tragedy.  The Union supported the just and legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people, in keeping with international law and the resolutions of the Council.  It fully supported the elected leader of the Palestinian people.

He said his organization also supported any initiative that would produce such a just and lasting peace.  He supported the deployment of a multinational force; but he wanted to make it clear that Israel’s current actions were aimed at destroying the viability of any peace plan.  The Palestinian people had waited far too long; it was time to give peace a chance.  The solution was waiting at the negotiating table.

MAHFOUDH OULD DEDDACH (Mauritania) said it was regrettable that the Council should hold successive meetings that would be unnecessary if its previous resolutions had been implemented.  It was essential to go ahead with the peace process.  It was, therefore, imperative that the Council end the siege of President Arafat and of Palestinian towns, and protect the Palestinian people against a humanitarian crisis.  It should do that by adopting the draft resolution that had been presented to it.

The President again suspended the meeting, and Council members proceeded to consultations before returning to act on the draft resolution before them.

Action on Draft Resolution

By a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with one abstention (United States), the Council then adopted resolution 1435 (2002), submitted by Bulgaria, France, Norway, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

After the vote, JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the resolution was flawed and failed to explicitly condemn terrorists or those who gave them safe haven.  Those responsible for killing civilians obstructed the peace efforts of the Quartet and Palestinian reforms.  The groups were well known:  Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade.  The actions of those groups were aimed at the peace process.  He had hoped for the Council to take a clear stand against the actions of the terrorist group.  The resolution had started that process but did not go far enough, and did not provide the clarity of context the United States draft resolution had provided.  Therefore, the United States had abstained from voting.

Resolution

The text of resolution 1435 (2002) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Reaffirming its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, 1402 (2002) of 30 March 2002 and 1403 (2002) of 4 April 2002, as well as the statements of its President, of 10 April 2002 and 18 July 2002,

Reiterating its grave concern at the tragic and violent events that have taken place since September 2000 and the continuous deterioration of the situation,

Condemning all terrorist attacks against any civilians, including the terrorist bombings in Israel on 18 and 19 September 2002 and in a Palestinian school in Hebron on 17 September 2002,

Gravely concerned at the reoccupation of the headquarters of the President of the Palestinian Authority in the City of Ramallah that took place on 19 September 2002 and demanding its immediate end,

Alarmed at the reoccupation of Palestinian cities as well as the severe restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement of persons and goods, and gravely concerned at the humanitarian crisis being faced by the Palestinian people,

Reiterating the need for respect in all circumstances of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,

“1.Reiterates its demand for the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction;

“2.Demands that Israel immediately cease measures in and around Ramallah including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure;

“3.Demands also the expeditious withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from Palestinian cities towards the return to the positions held prior to September 2000;

“4.Calls on the Palestinian Authority to meet its expressed commitment to ensure that those responsible for terrorist acts are brought to justice by it;

“5.Expresses its full support for the efforts of the Quartet and calls upon the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and all States in the region to cooperate with these efforts and recognizes in this context the continuing importance of the initiative endorsed at the Arab League Beirut Summit;

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

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For information media. Not an official record.