Security Council Again Fails to Take Action on Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Following the recent incursions and reoccupation by the Israeli occupying forces of parts of six Palestinian cities in areas under full Palestinian control, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) requested a formal meeting of the Security Council on 22 October. These incursions were viewed very seriously because of their political, practical and legal ramifications. The meeting was requested for the purpose of taking action to address this dangerous deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, in addition to the ongoing violations being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, including the closures and the continuing practice of extra-judicial killings of Palestinians.

On the same day, the delegation of Palestine presented a draft resolution based on agreed language that had been negotiated within the NAM caucus of the Security Council and with other Council members earlier in the year in March. The Palestinian delegation, however, conveyed its insistence that no meeting of the Council should take place for the sake of discussion only, and that any meeting of the Council to convene should take action on the draft resolution.

At a later stage, upon the advice of some members, a shorter draft resolution was introduced, focusing on the specific issue of the reoccupation of parts of Palestinian cities. Nevertheless, the U.S. delegation continued to indicate that it would not accept any resolution. Yet, the Americans did express readiness to work on a presidential statement on the matter. The Palestinian side, however, opposed the idea of a presidential statement because of the different stature of such a statement in comparison with a resolution and because of the dynamics of negotiations for such an instrument, which would almost ensure even greater U.S. influence on the text to be adopted.

A few days later, the five permanent members of the Council held initial consultations with France taking the initiative on a presidential statement. Some language was produced, but without final agreement, proving that Palestinian concerns in this respect were indeed justified. For example, the text, upon the insistence of the U.S., did not contain any reference to the existence of foreign occupation and misrepresented the facts about the situation on the ground.

After seeing the draft texts produced, the Arab Group strongly rejected the idea of a presidential statement and insisted on the need for a resolution by the Security Council. However, the U.S. reiterated its opposition to the draft resolution and the Council took no further action.

In sum, what does this mean? These developments are both disappointing and quite worrisome. The entire episode of Israeli reoccupation of Palestinian areas occurred without the Security Council being able to pronounce itself regarding such dramatic developments, a failure with deep political significance. Since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1322 (2000), the Council has failed to take any concrete action, even in follow up of resolution 1322, regarding the dangerous situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which has lasted for over a year now and which has posed a serious threat to peace and security in the region and beyond. All of this comes while the Council continues to be much more active in other spheres and while promises continue to be made for better positions on this matter in the future.