Security Council Adopts Resolution 1073 (1996)

Calls for immediate reversal of acts which aggravated the situation 

On September 28, 1996, by a vote of 14 in favor and 1 abstention (U.S.), the Security Council of the United Nations adopted resolution 1073 (1996) on the situation in Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The vote was preceded by a long list of states (52) participating in the debate of the Council on the matter, the majority of whom were represented at the level of Foreign Minister, including De Charette of France, Rifkind of the United Kingdom and Primakov of the Russian Federation.

The Palestinian position was presented by Farouk Kaddoumi, who was the first speaker in the debate of the Security Council, followed by David Levy of Israel and then Amr Moussa of Egypt. The debate reflected a consensus among the international community in placing responsibility for the deteriorating situation on the ground, as well as for the deadlock in the peace process, on the Israeli side. In resolution 1073 (1996), the Council recalled the letter of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the member states of the League of Arab States, that referred to the action by the Government of Israel to open an entrance to a tunnel in the vicinity of Al Aqsa Mosque and its consequent results. In this regard, the Council called for the immediate cessation and reversal of all acts which have resulted in the aggravation of the situation. That essentially means that Israel must close down the tunnel.

The Council expressed its deep concern about the tragic events in Jerusalem and the areas of Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Gaza, which resulted in a high number of deaths and injuries among Palestinian civilians, as well as concern about developments at the Holy Places of Jerusalem.

The resolution also included a call by the Council for the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians to be ensured. A final element of the resolution was a call for the immediate resumption of the peace process and implementation of the agreements reached. The Council also decided to keep the matter under review, which means that the Council will remain seized with regard to the implementation of the resolution.

Intense negotiations took place to reach an agreeable text for the resolution, which was originally presented jointly by Egypt and Palestine and later became a text submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement members in the Council.

By Saturday afternoon, on the 28th of September, members of the Council thought they had arrived at a unanimous vote and the draft resolution was even issued officially as a presidential text, which is done only in cases of consensus. However, at the last minute, the U.S. abstained instead of voting in favor.

Following the adoption of the resolution, Palestinian representatives expressed the view that the resolution was positive and stressed the importance and political significance of the debate on the matter, while the Israelis continued to maintain that the outcome of the Council debate was one-sided.

The Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations had, prior to the convening of the Security Council meeting, sent three letters to the President of the Council and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Mission shall follow up with the Council on the issue of implementing the resolution

The following is the text of Security Council resolution 1073 (1996) of 28 September 1996:

The Security Council,

Having considered the letter dated 26 September 1996 from the representative of Saudi Arabia on behalf of the States Members of the League of Arab States that referred to the action by the Government of Israel to open an entrance to a tunnel in the vicinity of Al Aqsa Mosque and its consequent results,

Expressing its deep concern about the tragic events in Jerusalem and the areas of Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and the Gaza Strip, which resulted in a high number of deaths and injuries among the Palestinian civilians, and concerned also about the clashes between the Israeli army and the Palestinian police and the casualties on both sides,

Recalling its resolutions on Jerusalem and other relevant Security Council resolutions,

Having discussed the situation at its formal meeting on 27 September 1996, with the participation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of a number of countries,

Concerned about the difficulties facing the Middle East peace process and the deterioration of the situation, including inter alia its impact on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, and urging the parties to fulfill their obligations, including the agreements already reached,

Concerned about developments at the Holy Places of Jerusalem,

1. Calls for the immediate cessation and reversal of all acts which have resulted in the aggravation of the situation, and which have negative implications for the Middle East peace process;

2. Calls for the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians to be ensured;

3. Calls for the immediate resumption of negotiations within the Middle East peace process on its agreed basis and the timely implementation of the agreements reached;

4. Decides to follow closely the situation and to remain seized of the matter.