Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Ambassador and Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., before the United Nations Security Council, Debate on the Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Occupied East Jerusalem, 20 August 2001: (Original: Arabic)

The Security Council is meeting today five months after the voting on 27 March of this year on the draft resolution submitted by the members of the Non-Aligned Movement in the Council, on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in which the draft resolution was not adopted due to the exercise of the veto by a Permanent Member of the Council. Since then the situation has continued to deteriorate in a dangerous way up to the current situation which you are all aware of.

We sincerely believe that had the Council been able to take specific measures, matters might have been different and we might have been in a different situation then we are in now. In any case, it is difficult to believe and it is impossible to justify the fact that the Security Council did not succeed in taking any measures since the adoption of its resolution 1322 of 7 October 2000 concerning the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, in spite of the several attempts that took place in this regard and in spite of the support of many members of the Council for those attempts. This happens at a time the Council is enthusiastically engaged in considering issues such as prevention of armed conflict and the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Frankly, it seems to me that there is something fundamentally wrong, which definitely has its impact on this international mechanism agreed upon in accordance to the Charter of the United Nations, including an impact on its credibility and effectiveness. We call upon the members of the Council to consider this issue as a matter of principle and call upon them to adhere to the role of the Council in the maintenance of international peace and security at all times and in all places.

We come back once again to the Council on the basis of our complete attachment to the responsibility of the Council, including, of course, the question of Palestine and our non-acceptance of any attempt to neutralize the Council in this regard. Such an attempt, irrespective of the way it is formulated, can only mean an attempt to evade international law and international legitimacy and an attempt to deal with matters in accordance with a de facto balance of power.

The urgent reason in coming back to the Council again, is of course, the continuous deterioration of the situation to a very dangerous level, and because there is no other mechanism or organized and sustained efforts to halt the deterioration and change the situation. We even feel that the past period led to undermining the only available plan embodied in the recommendations of the report of the Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-finding Committee known as the Mitchell Committee. Accordingly, we did not have many options and we hope that this time the Council will be able to fulfill its duties and adopt the necessary resolution in order to provide the positive impetus we all need.

Mr. President,

Since the infamous visit of Mr. Ariel Sharon to Al-Haram Al-Sharif on 28 September 2000, and the collective rejection of our people to this aggression against our sacred sites and their rejection of the continuation of the Israeli occupation and its practices that ignited the second intifada, an unprecedented Israeli bloody military campaign waged against our people began. During this period, the Israeli occupying forces have killed 563 Palestinians, many of them children, in addition to the Palestinians who were martyred by other means, but because of the occupation. Also, around 20,000 Palestinians have been injured, many of them permanently disabled.

The Israeli occupying forces have also caused extensive destruction to the economic establishments and have razed vast agricultural areas uprooting thousands of trees. In many instances they have used heavy weaponry including tanks, helicopter gunships and even F-16 war planes to shell and destroy a large number of sites belonging to the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinian institutions, as well as houses belonging to civilians. These forces have also imposed external and internal closures leading to the complete dismemberment of the Palestinian territory which resulted in severely restricting the movement of persons and goods within the Palestinian territory and with the outside world. These forces then committed assassinations or extra-judicial killings against identified persons using different means, including the use of helicopter missiles and under cover special units. On several occasions, these forces also invaded areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority and Israeli tanks recently have entered and temporarily reoccupied an entire Palestinian city. In addition to all that, come the atrocities committed by the gangs of Israeli illegal settlers against our people, wherever those armed settlers were present with the cover and protection of the occupying forces.

The Israeli occupying forces have then committed many atrocities against our people some of which are undoubtedly war crimes in accordance with clear definitions stated in the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Additional Protocol 1 and the provisions of the statute of the International Criminal Court. In general, what has resulted from this Israeli bloody military campaign and other Israeli measures, such as withholding Palestinian funds, was the transformation of the lives of an entire people into veritable hell and practically putting them in a number of collective prisons. This is in addition to direct oppression, economic devastation and all forms of suffering. We have documented all these Israeli actions in 63 letters addressed to the President of the Security Council, the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly in what constitutes the file of the Israeli crime in order to keep the Council and representatives of the international community aware of the details of what has been taking place.

All of this was not enough for Israel. Recently, it has taken yet another illegal step by raiding and closing down the Orient House, the Palestinian Political Center in Occupied East Jerusalem, in addition to nine other buildings belonging to Palestinian institutions. This Israeli step constitutes a dangerous escalation and assault on Palestinian national dignity and Palestinian rights in the Holy City. Further, this step denotes a reversal by force of an important part of the agreements reached between the two sides and a flagrant violation of the explicit commitment made in a letter from the Foreign Minister of Israel to the Foreign Minister of Norway dated 11 October 1996 in regard to Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem. We recall in this regard the international consensus, including relevant Security Council resolutions affirming that all actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, aiming at changing the legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem are illegal, null and void.

After all this, Israel, the occupying Power, talks about Palestinian violence and denounces Palestinian resistant reactions. The origin of the whole conflict is the existence of the Israeli occupation and the practices of this occupation throughout 34 years, specially settler colonialism manifested in confiscation of land and the illegal transfer of Israelis to the occupied territory and building settlements for them. Another fact arises is the continuation of the existence of occupation and its practices even after the start of the peace process and after seven years since the signing of the Oslo agreement. Any attempt to ignore this or circumvent it, in addition to being immoral, will only lead to failure in finding the necessary solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Middle East crises.

As for the current dangerous deterioration, it is basically an outcome of the Israeli actions and measures, particularly the military ones to which I have referred to. Tension and confrontation are not caused because the Palestinian side attempts to invade Israel and not because the Palestinian Authority tries for example to expand its control and regain Palestinian territory. Tension and confrontation are being caused because Israeli occupying forces expanded against Palestinian populated areas constituting a state of unbearable pressure on our people and undertook an unprecedented bloody military campaign to which I have referred to as well.

One issue that is occurring on the part of the Palestinian side, which we do not approve, is the bombings that have taken place in Israel. We do not condone such acts and we have clearly condemned them as we have condemned all acts against civilians. But we should recall in order to correctly understand the events, that even this wave of bombings did not start except after a long period since the commencement of the Israeli bloody military campaign in last September.

Mr. President,

How can this current dangerous situation be brought to an end and how can we return to the path of peace? In our opinion, dealing with the situation on the ground in an effective and speedy way should take place within a political context, because we believe that you cannot separate security or the actual situation from the political vision and the future which awaits the two sides. What we certainly believe is that dealing with the situation on the ground cannot be achieved by the illogical attempt to put the burden on the Palestinian side as Israel and some parties are trying to do.

For our part, we have clearly declared our acceptance of the report of the Mitchell Committee and we have called for the comprehensive implementation of the recommendations of the report, which aim at restoring the situation to what it was before September 2000 towards the resumption of the peace process. For its part, the Israeli government has frequently expressed its animosity towards the Committee and its report. Mr. Sharon has said before the issuance of the report that Israel’s acceptance of the Committee’s establishment was a strategic mistake. After the issuance of the report the Israeli government said that it did not accept the recommendation regarding the cessation of settlement activity and did not accept the criticism in the report directed at the Israeli army.

Finally, the Israeli government said that it accepted the report, but in return it invented the notion of separate stages of implementation of the report and then invented the seven-day period of "quiet" that should precede implementation of the recommendations as a condition for such implementation. What is this reverse logic? How can the days of "quiet" be achieved without the joint implementation of the recommendation by the two sides. And if such "quiet" can be achieved before the implementation why would we need these recommendations to begin with. In short, we believe that this Israeli position at best is unrealistic and impractical and impedes the implementations of the recommendations and at worst an expression of rejection of the report and a means to bury it. We call for the immediate, comprehensive and scrupulous implementation of the recommendations contained in the report and we call upon the parties particularly those which have participated in its formulation, to adhere to it and to push in this direction.

As for the general political context a matter which cannot be avoided, we once more declare our commitment to signed agreements and our commitment to negotiate on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) and 338 (1973) taking into consideration developments in previous discussions between the two sides with the aim of reaching a final agreement on all issues, including Jerusalem, refugees and borders. We call upon the Israeli side to declare the same commitment and relinquish the attempts to circumvent the signed agreements and seek partial solutions instead of a final settlement. We of course also call upon all other concerned parties to affirm the same position.

Mr. President,

It is saddening that what is currently happening and the prevailing situation which threatens the region as a whole, comes after the parties got close to reaching a final settlement and achieve peace. In all cases, we believe that there is an existing solution to the conflict. It is a clear solution and more than that it is achievable. But we need the assistance of the international community to achieve such a solution and we hope that this will be the case.

Towards that end, we hope that the Council will succeed this time in contributing to stopping the bloodshed and to start the path to return to negotiations and peace. We have proposed modest goals to be included in the draft resolution because we want the Council to succeed which is an extremely important matter to all parties. Let us work together to achieve this.

Thank you, Mr. President.