The Security Council this afternoon failed to adopt a draft resolution by which it would have demanded that Israel desist from any act of deportation and cease any threat to the safety of the elected President of the Palestinian Authority.
By a vote of 11 in favour, 1 against (United States) and 3 abstentions (Bulgaria, Germany, United Kingdom), the Council rejected the text, which was submitted by Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan and Syria.
The representative of the United States said he had voted against the draft resolution because it failed to include a robust condemnation of acts of terrorism or call for the dismantling of the infrastructure which supported terrorist operations. The United States had already made it clear it did not support either the elimination of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat or his forced exile.
Calling the draft “extremely balanced” and the United States’ veto “highly regrettable”, the Syrian representative expressed regret that the Council had not been able to achieve the desired result. The fact that international law was being threatened and that the Council had been unable to fulfil its task, in terms of safeguarding international peace and security, was also regrettable and had complicated an already extremely complicated situation.
Similarly, the Observer for Palestine called the text “very moderate” and one that he thought would receive 14 votes in favour. The United States delegation should have informed the Observer Mission of its intention, even as a courtesy, he said, adding that the delegation had not proposed any direct amendments to the text. The long-held United States’ position in favour of Israel had now transformed into acceptance of Israeli positions to the extent that it could no longer play an honest role as mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Asserting that the draft was “tragically lopsided”, the representative of Israel said the text had not focused on the killings due to terrorism or the clear responsibility of the Palestinian leadership to dismantle the terrorist structure. In fact, it had equated Israel’s counter-terrorism efforts with terrorism itself. What was needed was for both sides to commit themselves to the cause of peace, without violence and incitement, which had been the tools of Mr. Arafat’s leadership for a long time.
The meeting began at 4:25 p.m. and adjourned at 5:07 p.m.
The draft resolution submitted by Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan and Syria was rejected following a vote of 11 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 3 abstentions (Bulgaria, Germany, United Kingdom).
Explanations of Vote
JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States), speaking after vote, said he had stated yesterday that, while all parties had a responsibility to bring peace to the Middle East, ending terrorism was the highest priority. Today’s resolution was flawed as it failed to include a robust condemnation of acts of terrorism, particularly an explicit condemnation of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, or to call for the dismantling of the infrastructure which supported those terrorist operations, wherever they were located, consistent with Council resolution 1373 (2001). The resolution had not taken a clear stand against the actions of those terrorist groups or called for decisive actions against them.
He said the Palestinian Authority must take action to remove the capacity of extremist groups to conduct such outrageous acts. In addition, Israel must move forward to fulfil its obligations under the Road Map and the Aqaba Summit, including improving the daily lives of Palestinians. The United States would not support any resolution that evaded the explicit threat to the Middle East peace process posed by Hamas and other such terrorist groups and, therefore, opposed the resolution as it failed to do just that.
The Government of Israel was already aware of the views of Council members on the issue of Mr. Arafat, he said. Moreover, Secretary of State Colin Powell had stated that the United States did not support either the elimination of Mr. Arafat or his forced exile. While Mr. Arafat was part of the problem, the best solution would be through diplomatic isolation. For its part, the United States and its Quartet partners would continue to work towards the implementation of President Bush’s vision of a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as set forth in the Road Map to which it remained committed as the way forward towards the goal of two States living side by side in peace, security and freedom.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said his delegation had abstained because of the lack of unanimity in the Council. Bulgaria appealed urgently to the Palestinian Authority to stop suicide bombings, and to Israel to stop extrajudicial killings and threats against Yasser Arafat.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) expressed his disappointment with the vote, which would reinforce the view that the Council was incapable of action on the issue. He called on the Israeli Government to rescind its decision on Mr. Arafat and on both parties to exercise restraint and to follow the Road Map.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said his delegation had sponsored the text and voted in favour of it because it was important to send a message to all concerned that any contemplated deportation of Mr. Arafat would be illegal and inconsistent with the objectives of the Middle East peace process. That message clearly had been transmitted yesterday in the open debate. The resolution enjoyed the broad support of the Non-Aligned members and was sponsored by the Arab Group. The vote taken today reflected that it had also enjoyed the support of the majority of Council members. Pakistan regretted that it had not been possible for the Council to move forward in a united way, he said, adding that that would have implications for Council actions in other areas.
Noting that several Council members had tried until the last minute to evolve a text that would be acceptable to all sides, he reaffirmed Pakistan’s opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, anywhere in the world. That included State terrorism. At the same time, the issue of terrorism should not be used to demonize political opponents and delegitimize legitimate political grievances. States fighting various forms of unrest or insurgency were finding it tempting to abandon the slow, but sometimes necessary, processes of political negotiations for the deceptively easy option of military action. He had advised all to act with determination to address, and indeed solve, the political disputes and long-standing conflicts that bred terrorism.
Unfortunately, States were suppressing the right of a people to self-determination in the Middle East and South Asia; they were joining together in an alliance against terrorism, but would more likely emerge as an axis of oppression. Pakistan strongly urged the Government of Israel that, rather than resort to extreme actions, such as the deportation of Mr. Arafat, it should join in concerted action to assist the Palestinian people to regain their rights and facilitate the end of their dispossession. Another unambiguous message from yesterday’s debate had been the need for the parties to rededicate themselves to the Road Map and to commence its implementation in good faith, he said.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) said that the draft expressed the general message of yesterday’s meeting in a balanced way that France could support. Today’s vote was, therefore, a seriously counterproductive result.
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said his delegation had voted for the draft because it countered the removal of Mr. Arafat. He would have preferred consensus on the issue and feared that the action would not help the situation in the Middle East. However, it was necessary to return to the implementation of the Road Map and all relevant Council resolutions. With patience, it was hoped that the Council could achieve an outcome that the people of the region deserved.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said it was regrettable that all efforts made by the Arab Group, in general, and the Syrian delegation, in particular, had not enabled the Council to achieve the desired result. The draft had also been supported by the Non-Aligned Movement and was extremely balanced. The majority of the provisions had been inspired by other texts adopted by the Council on the situation in the Middle East, and it was highly regrettable that the United States delegation had vetoed the draft. The fact that international law was being threatened and the Council had been unable to fulfil its task in terms of safeguarding international peace and security was also regrettable and had complicated an already extremely complicated situation in the region.
He said he had made all efforts to reflect the discussions calling for an end to the Israeli destruction of the past few years and to the violence, which had resulted in thousands of deaths. Israel had tried to expel the Palestinians from their land and build settlements in Palestinian territories, and recently it had threatened to kill the Palestinian President or exile him, contrary to international law, the United Nations Charter, and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Setting aside fact that the draft had not been accepted, the Council, in its deliberations yesterday, had stated its refusal of Israeli actions and policies in that regard, he said. Israel was responsible for its illogical policy and for having “scuttled” the peace process in the Middle East.
INOCENCIO ARIAS (Spain) said the vote was disappointing because the Council needed to send a strong message against the decision of Israel regarding the leader of the Palestinian Authority. The draft contained, in addition, language demanding an end to terrorism, and it should have been possible to create a consensus around it.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said his country had made clear to Israel its opposition to the removal of the leader of the Palestinian Authority. He urged the Council and the members of the Quartet to work for the full implementation of the Road Map, which called on the Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist groups and called on Israel to desist from actions that would undermine trust.
The United Kingdom had abstained, he said, because the current text was insufficiently balanced and unhelpful in the implementation of the Road Map. It was regrettable, however, that a balanced resolution had failed to pass and make a strong statement against the decision of Israel to remove Mr. Arafat.
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, questioned the procedure that had just been used in which he had not been permitted to be present during the voting, whereas he had co-sponsored the draft with the Arab Group. The text was very moderate, and the United States delegation had not declared that it would use its veto. It should have informed the Permanent Observer of its intention as a courtesy. The United States delegation had not made any direct proposals for amendments to the draft, nor had it conducted any discussions with the Permanent Observer. That raised a question about what had transpired.
He expressed regret that the United States’ position had been biased in favour of Israel for so many years; now that had transformed into acceptance of Israeli logic and positions to the extent that it had basically become “a long, dark shadow being cast on the entire process”. As a result, the United States had been unable to play an honest role as a mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict. As for President Arafat and the Palestinian leadership, the Palestinian people had not accepted interference by outside entities, particularly those that were considered unfriendly. The Palestinian people would not accept any interference in who would be politically isolated or who would keep their positions.
Serious consequences might follow the use of the veto, for which the United States bore sole responsibility, he said. It remained incomprehensible that the British and German delegations had abstained on the draft.
Mr. JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), speaking as Council President for the month, said the procedure used in the voting was in conformity with established practices of the Security Council.
DAN GILLERMAN (Israel) said the draft was tragically lopsided and he commended those countries that did not support it. It did not focus on killings by terrorists and the clear responsibility of the Palestinian leadership to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. It focused, instead, on Israel’s response to terrorism.
The draft, he said, also perversely equated the murder of civilians with counter-terrorism efforts and it would have harmed the peace process by coming to the defence of a man who consistently stood in its way. What was needed was for both sides to commit themselves to the cause of peace, without violence and incitement, which had been the tools of Mr. Arafat’s leadership for a long time.
Mr. AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said, in response, that today marked the twenty-first anniversary of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, and that he wished to remind the Council of that for the record.
Note: * The 4827th Meeting of 16 September was closed.