Statement by Mr. Marwan Jilani, Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Deputy Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 26 February 2002, United Nations, New York:

(Original: Arabic. Check Against Delivery)

Mr. President,

I wish to convey to you and the members of the Council our gratitude and appreciation for your immediate response to our request to convene an urgent meeting of the Security Council to consider the grave situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. I would also like to express our gratitude to the U.N. Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, for his statement before the Council and for his tireless efforts and unwavering commitment to bringing the parties back to the negotiating table and putting an end to the tragic deterioration of the situation.

The immediate response of the Council is an acknowledgement of the extremely dangerous situation in the region and the continuous deterioration of Palestinian-Israeli relations as well as the ongoing escalation of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority and its leadership. This grave situation threatens to push the region into total confrontation and war.

As the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues to dramatically decline and the toll of death and destruction continues to rise as a result of the assaults being carried out by the Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority, it is incumbent upon the international community to address this crisis. The United Nations Security Council should uphold its responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security and undertake the necessary action to remedy this grave situation.

Mr. President,

Upon instruction from Prime Minister Sharon, the Israeli occupying forces intensified the bloody military campaign against the Palestinian people and Palestinian institutions and infrastructure. In the past few days alone, the Israeli occupying forces have killed more than 50 Palestinians, including women and children, and have wrought vast destruction on both public and private Palestinian properties. This has included attacks on the official compounds of President Yasser Arafat in Gaza City and Ramallah and the destruction of several police and security installations as well as Palestinian radio and television facilities. At the same time, the Israeli occupying forces have repeatedly raided densely populated Palestinian cities and refugee camps. These raids and attacks have resulted in the killing and injury of numerous Palestinian civilians, many of whom were uprooted from their homes more than 50 years ago and have been living under Israeli occupation for almost 35 years.

Mr. President,

Since 28 September 2000, the Palestinian people have suffered the ongoing and escalating flagrant violation of their human rights as defined by international humanitarian law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For over 16 months, they have been subjected to continuous and systematic war crimes and State terrorism being committed by the Israeli occupying forces.

These crimes have included the killing of more than 900 Palestinians, including many children, and the injury of tens of thousands, many of whom have been permanently disabled as a result of the serious injuries sustained. The Israeli occupying forces have also committed the crimes of extrajudicial killings; the destruction of homes, buildings, agricultural fields, roads and other infrastructure; the confiscation of more land for settlement activities; and the destruction of numerous economic facilities. At the same time, the Israeli government has ordered the tightening of the military siege and restrictions on the freedom of movement of all Palestinian persons and goods, virtually dividing the Occupied Palestinian Territory into several detention centers, while continuing the military siege of President Arafat and the whole Palestinian population.

Mr. President,

Last week, President Arafat repeated the call he made in December for an immediate and total cessation of all acts of violence. That same day Mr. Sharon declared in an address to the Israeli people his intention to continue and escalate the bloody attacks against the Palestinian people and its National Authority by using all Israeli air, land and naval weaponry and continuing the policy of extrajudicial killings. In addition to all of this, Mr. Sharon decided to set up what he refers to as "buffer zones" around Palestinian cities and villages in order to transform them into bantustans and collective detention jails. He has also decided to build a wall to separate East and West Jerusalem, with the aim of completely isolating Arab Jerusalem and imposing a complete siege from the North, South, East and West. All of these illegal policies and practices are extremely dangerous, which aim at breaking the will of the Palestinian people, humiliating them and destroying their national dignity. Mr. Sharon and his government bear full responsibility for these actions and their dangerous consequences and repercussions.

Mr. President,

We have listened with great interest to the statement delivered by the Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which we consider to be an important prelude to our discussion. We hope to be guided by it and to build upon it in order to come out of this meeting with action that is unanimously approved by the members of the Council and that can contribute to calming the situation and to moving the parties back to the negotiating table. In his statement, the Secretary-General expressed the deep concern of the international community and its conviction that the situation has reached the edge of an abyss that threatens to plunge the entire region into war. We share the Secretary-General’s concern and we support his analysis of the problem and the mechanism for resolving it.

In doing so, the Secretary-General also expressed the international consensus that there is no military or security solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and there is no alternative to a political solution through the negotiation process. There is also international consensus that the core of the solution is dependent upon addressing the three key problems mentioned by the Secretary-General - Israeli occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories, security, and economic deprivation – and that these problems are inter-linked and must be addressed in a coordinated manner. The Secretary-General has warned of the danger of attempting to deal with the security issue in isolation of the political issues, specifically the question of land, and the socioeconomic issues. The failure to appropriately address these issues together will result in a situation worse than the one prevailing.

It must be reiterated that Mr. Sharon has never concealed his opposition to a final settlement, and he has imposed the condition of the 7 days of quiet, giving those opposed to the peace process ample opportunity to divert any calming of the situation and a return to negotiations. This condition is being imposed on the Palestinian side, while simultaneously the occupation forces continue committing extrajudicial killings and assaulting the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Authority and its security installations. This is all being done by the Israeli side with the aim of aborting any attempt to implement the Mitchell recommendations, particularly a freeze of settlement activities, towards a resumption of the negotiations process.

At the same time, Mr. Sharon’s fervent attempts to bury the Mitchell recommendations until now does not mean that the international community should declare the death of the Mitchell Report before finding an agreed-upon alternative that can be implemented. Otherwise, the international community once again risks appearing helpless in compelling Israel to implement what it accepts and is committed to. The alternative is that Israel alone decides what can and cannot be accepted and when and how what it has accepted is to be implemented if it deems so. This is truly a depressing situation.

Mr. President,

Despite the despair that prevails in the region and throughout the world for reaching a solution to the crisis, and despite the hardening of the public and official positions of the Palestinian and Israeli sides, there is a growing conviction on both sides that the requisites for solving this conflict do not differ much whether we reach a solution now, after a year or after ten years. It is the same solution upon which the whole peace process in the Middle East has been based, as defined in Madrid in 1991 and in the Oslo agreements.

This solution is one based on ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967, and on the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, to coexist in peace and security with the State of Israel within secure and internationally-recognized borders. This is the vision that has received international consensus. It is the vision declared by President Bush and Secretary of State Powell and welcomed by the Palestinian side. What remains is for it to be accepted by the Israeli side. It is imperative that the Security Council clearly promote this international consensus. Herein rests the question of the failure or success of the international community in shouldering its responsibilities through your august Council.