Third Resumption of the Tenth Emergency Special Session

Meeting of Experts by End of April 1998

The Tenth Emergency Special Session (10th ESS) of the General Assembly, which first convened in April 1997, resumed for the third time on 17 March 1998 to address "Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory" and the consequent Israeli violations of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, relevant United Nations resolutions and the agreements reached between the Palestinian and Israeli sides within the framework of the Middle East peace process.

The session was resumed to follow up on the implementation of the provisions of the resolutions previously adopted by the 10th ESS, in particular resolutions ES-10/3 of 15 July 1997 and ES-10/4 of 13 November 1997. Of specific focus were the recommendations made in those resolutions for the convening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, as well as for the convening of a meeting of experts of the High Contracting Parties as a preparatory step to the conference by the end of February 1998, both of which remain unfulfilled.

Before the convening of the resumed session, the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as depository of the Convention, made a proposal that was conveyed to both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to hold a meeting between the representatives of the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization with the participation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, as the custodian of the Convention, and the Government of Switzerland as the depository State. The Palestinian side, however, insisted that the meeting of experts, as recommended in resolution ES-10/4, should be convened to prepare for the conference and that, after confirmation of this, the Palestinian side would have no problem with attending any other meeting, provided that it does not become a substitute for the meeting of experts or undermine it. Another direct reason for resumption of the 10th ESS was the expiration of the target date for convening the meeting of experts and, accordingly, the need to extend that date.

During the debate, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, in the capacity as the Presidency of the European Union (EU), made a statement reiterating the need for convening the meeting of experts to follow up on resolution ES-10/4. The EU statement also stressed that the meeting should "discuss substance, notably the situation in the Occupied Territories relative to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and the political and legal implications of the conference, taking into account the obligations of Israel and other States Parties under this Convention." The Permanent Representative of the United States, on the other hand, reaffirmed his country’s strong opposition to any such meeting.

Following the debate, a draft resolution was put to a vote and the Assembly adopted resolution ES-10/5, on 17 March 1998, which reaffirmed resolutions ES-10/2, ES-10/3 and ES-10/4 and reiterated the demands made therein, stressing the necessity of the full and immediate implementation by Israel, the occupying Power, of those demands, and reiterated, in specific, the recommendations for the convening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties and the convening of an expert meeting in preparation for the conference, with an extension of the target date for that meeting as the end of April 1998. Resolution ES-10/5 was adopted by a vote of 120 in favor, 3 against and 5 abstentions.