General Assembly demands Israel not deport or threaten safety Arafat


Reiterating its grave concern at the tragic and violent events that have taken place throughout the occupied Palestinian territory since September 2000, the General Assembly this afternoon demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, not deport or threaten the safety of elected Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The measure was adopted by a vote of 133 in favour, to 4 against (Israel, United States, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia), with 15 abstentions, as the Assembly resumed its tenth emergency special session on illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories.

The emergency meeting of the Assembly was called by the Arab Group and non-aligned countries following the United States’ veto of a similar text in the Security Council on Tuesday.  In a letter to the Assembly, the delegation of Sudan requested the meeting “in the light of the inability of the Security Council to fulfil its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security due to the exercise by one of its permanent members of the veto”.

As well as enjoining any Israeli action against Mr. Arafat, the Assembly demanded the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terrorism, provocation, incitement and destruction, and expressed full support for the “Road Map” peace plan.  The Road Map put forward by the “Quartet” — United Nations, European Union, Russian Federation and United States — calls for parallel and reciprocal steps by Israel and the Palestinians leading to two States living side by side in peace by 2005.

“The situation in the Middle East has reached a new nadir with the Israeli Government’s decision to remove Yasser Arafat”, said the Observer for Palestine, adding that the Security Council’s failure to act had prevented the international community from addressing the grave consequences that could ensue from that decision.  “It is high time to admit that the central problem is the position of Israel”, he said.

He said the Palestinian Authority had condemned Israel’s policy as “illegal and insane” — an assault on the dignity of the Palestinian people that, if carried out, would ultimately constitute a terrorist act.  Emphasizing the suffering of the Palestinian people under occupation, he called on the authorities to bring to justice those Israelis who had committed war crimes against the Palestinian people, including Israeli Prime Minister Sharon.

Israel’s representative said the Security Council had rejected a resolution that would have come to the defence of a man who “sought to sabotage the Road Map and prevent the emergence of a new and empowered Palestinian leadership”.  He argued, however, that the text introduced today in the Assembly, which failed to condemn the Palestinian leadership’s abject refusal to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, treated with disrespect the thousands of lives devastated by Palestinian terrorism.

He said the decision of the Israeli cabinet, in principle, merely stated what world leaders had already recognized and what the Road Map had affirmed, namely that Mr. Arafat was an obstacle to peace.  “He is his own people’s greatest tragedy”, he said.  While Israel continued to hold out hope for a new Palestinian leadership that would live up to its obligations, it could not negotiate with those in the Palestinian leadership that were more devoted to destroying the Jewish State than to creating a democratic and vibrant Palestinian State.

The representative of the United States said that while he did not support the elimination or exile of Mr. Arafat, he had opposed and had voted against the resolutions considered during the past week due to their imbalance and omission of certain elements, namely a condemnation of acts of terrorism; an explicit condemnation of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade; and a call for the dismantlement of the infrastructure that supported those terrorists operations.

Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Malaysia’s representative said that the Council, in failing to uphold the rule of law, had left the Assembly as the last bastion of hope for the Palestinian people.  The Security Council’s action Tuesday failed to send the correct signal to Israel.  Even as the Non-Aligned Movement remained committed to the peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, its members believed that the Assembly had an obligation to take a strong stand against any actions that further undermined the peace process.  The Assembly must show that the international community and the United Nations had not abandoned the Palestinian people through strong support for the text.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Sudan (on behalf of the Arab Group), Cuba, Russian Federation, China, South Africa, Venezuela, Iran, Guinea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Italy (on behalf of the European Union).

Speaking in explanation of vote were the representatives of Sudan, Turkey, Nauru, Chile, Guatemala, Peru, Canada, Japan, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Cameroon and Cuba.

The Observer of Palestine also spoke after the adoption.

The General Assembly will convene on Monday, 22 September, at 10 a.m. for a one-day, high-level plenary to follow up the outcome of its twenty-sixth special session and the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.

Background

The General Assembly resumed its tenth emergency special session this morning to consider illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories, at the request of the League of Arab States.

Tensions heightened last week after the 15-member Israeli Security Cabinet decided to remove Yasser Arafat, whom it accuses of fomenting terrorism.  But the decision did not include specific orders to move against the Palestinian leader.  The cycle of violence between the parties has steadily increased since the collapse a ceasefire between the Israeli Government and Palestinian groups in late June.

Before the emergency session is a draft resolution on illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories (document A/ES-10/L.12), which would have the Assembly demand that Israel, the occupying Power, desist from any act of deportation and cease any threat to the safety of the elected President of the Palestinian Authority.  It would also have the Assembly reiterate its demand for the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including acts of terrorism, provocation, incitement and destruction.

The tenth emergency special session dates back to 1997 when Israel began construction of a new settlement south of East Jerusalem.  The Security Council met twice on this issue, but failed to adopt resolutions.  Using the “Uniting for Peace” formula, a special emergency session of the Assembly was convened in April and again in July and November of 1997.  It also resumed in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.

In May 2002, the Assembly convened an emergency session and adopted a resolution which, among other things, requested the Secretary-General to present a report on the events that took place in the town of Jenin and other Palestinian cities between March and early May of that year.

Reconvening in August 2002 following the release of the report, the emergency session adopted a resolution demanding the immediate cessation of military incursions and all acts of violence, terror, provocation, incitement and destruction in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.  The text was passed by a vote of 114 in favour, to 4 against, with 11 abstentions.

ANNEX

Vote on Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied Palestinian Territory

The draft resolution on illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory (document A/ES-10/L.12) was adopted, as orally amended, by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 4 against, with 15 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen.

Against:  Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstain:  Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Nauru, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Tonga, Tuvalu.

Absent:  Afghanistan, Bahamas, Bhutan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mongolia, Niger, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe.