Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Ambassador and Permanent Observer of Palestine, to the U.N., before the United Nations Security Council, following the Vote and Veto regarding the Establishment of a Protection Force for Palestinian Civilians, 27 March 2001: (Original: Arabic)

The Security Council arrived at a negative result today because one of its permanent members used the right of veto. This means that the Council was prevented from carrying out its duties to preserve international peace and security in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. This is truly regrettable.

As far as we, the Palestinian people, are concerned, we believe that this failure also means a failure to contribute to ending the tragedy that has been taking place in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, due to the bloody and oppressive campaign waged against our people by Israel, the occupying Power. This bloody and oppressive campaign is being waged by the leaders in charge, including the current and previous Israeli Prime Ministers, Mr. Sharon and Mr. Barak, through all their declarations and positions that run counter to international law and that call for escalation and confrontation. This also means a failure to provide the support necessary to revive what is left of the Middle East peace process, as well as the necessary assistance to the parties to overcome the difficulties they face by simply assuming the presence of good intentions among the parties. This regrettable result came about despite the intense work done recently to which we all contributed.

I would like to express, on behalf of the Palestinian people, our heartfelt thanks to the Non-Aligned caucus of the Security Council, which sponsored todayís draft resolution- Bangladesh, Colombia, Jamaica, Mali, Mauritius and Singapore. Those friendly states undertook this marvelous action in support of the just demands of the Palestinians and in support of the peace process in the Middle East on the basis of the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement and on the basis of positions of principle regarding the question of Palestine. Likewise, we would like to thank the members of the Council who voted in favor of the draft resolution and those that expressed their readiness to support us even if the current circumstances were more difficult. In this regard, I would like to specifically mention China and the Russian Federation. We would also like to express our deep gratitude to our brothers in the Arab Group and the Groupís Chairman this month, the United Arab Emirates, as well as to the Chairman of the Arab Summit, the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Since November 2000 we have made efforts to establish a United Nations observer force to provide protection to the Palestinian people.

As members know, the result was the unfortunate outcome which the Council reached for reasons known to all. Subsequently, we resumed our efforts towards the same objective. Later, when it had become clear that it would be impossible to attain our objective, due to the negative United States position, European members of the Council took an initiative that would have responded to the situation on the ground and to the situation relating to the Middle East peace process, with a view to moving the peace process forward. This involved a move to accept a limited step in the direction of the possibility of setting up a force to help protect Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which came to be known as the two-stage approach.

To be frank, we were not very happy with this, because, as is only normal, we feel that protection for our Palestinian people should be expedited in order to put an end to the current bloodshed. But, in the hope that we could take a positive step that might open the way to better prospects for greater Security Council participation in the Middle East situation and that might improve the situation on the ground and promote the peace process, we agreed to respond to that initiative. We cooperated sincerely with European countries and with the United States of America, and, naturally, with Non-Aligned and other members of the Security Council. More than once during that time, we thought we were close to agreement. Indeed, on Tuesday afternoon we achieved an agreement conditional only upon acceptance by our officials.

Despite all of that, it became clear to us later this evening that everything related to timing had evaporated. There seems to have been an attempt to delay action without setting any definite date or time. And, as for content, it was suggested that what had been decided was in fact very far removed from what could actually be agreed upon at this time. For our part, in the light of our duty towards our people, it would have been impossible for us to pursue action that would be unreasonable and would drag on indefinitely in the face of a situation that is daily deteriorating and given the need for an international response in a timely manner.

To all of that we must add the convening of the Arab Summit at Amman, an important political development that cannot be ignored. We wanted the Councilís action to send the right message to that Summit, one that would promote interdependence and harmony between Arab action and international legitimacy in addressing the deteriorating situation in the region.

We made every possible effort to reach such a positive conclusion, even at the expense of the substance of the draft resolution, even, more than once, at the expense of our own positions. Clearly, we are sorely disappointed at the position we are in today, including all the surprises and unexpected developments, some of which were rather unusual in terms of the Councilís procedures and working methods. It was out of the question to take a step backward by sacrificing the legitimate needs and demands of our people, including the need for international protection, especially since no other concrete proposal was put forward in terms of either timing or substance.

From our perspective, this stage of our effort with the Security Council has come to an end. We shall certainly return at a later date to see what can be done, in cooperation with Council members who are willing, in the service of the principles of peace, justice and legitimacy. We are confident that this will ultimately be possible; under no circumstance will we cease to call upon the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations. At the same time, we shall continue those efforts, especially as the Council has been prevented form doing its duty.

When we think of what has happened, we truly think it is strange: After hearing just a while ago the unbalanced, at least from our point of view, statement by the representative of the United States of America, we have to admit that our astonishment is no longer. Indeed, we would have liked not to be surprised, but for totally different reasons and in a totally different way.

The Palestinian side will work sincerely to resume traditional cooperation here at the United Nations and in capitals with the friends who chose to abstain in the voting on the draft resolution today. We are confident that this is possible, particularly in the light of traditional Middle East policies of those States.

In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute once again and express our thanks to all of those who stood by our side. I am especially thankful to the Non-Aligned caucus, primarily its coordinator for this month and its Arab member, Tunisia, for their positions of principle in support of our peopleís struggle.