Security Council Considers International Protection for

Palestinian Civilians

President Arafat Addresses Private Meeting of the

Security Council

With the continuation of the Israeli campaign of killing, repression and terror against the Palestinian people, the idea of the international community providing impartial international protection for Palestinian civilians gained increasing strength and urgency. The Arab Summit, held in Egypt from 28 to 29 October, was an important development in this regard as the Summit specifically called on the Security Council to provide such protection to the Palestinian people.

Based on the decision of the Summit, instructions were issued to the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N. to raise the issue and to try to achieve the necessary action by the Council. In a first step, the Mission distributed on 31 October 2000 a working paper entitled "United Nations Protection Force for Palestinian Civilians". Given the importance of the matter however, the Mission moved slowly to give time for serious consultations on the matter and to build the necessary support for the idea. Palestineís work in this direction received a huge boost with the private meeting the Security Council convened on 10 November with President Arafat one day after his visit to Washington to meet with President Clinton.

In addressing the Council, President Arafat spoke in detail about the deterioration and harsh realities of the situation on the ground and about Palestinian casualties and losses over the past few weeks. He also presented Palestinian ideas about the proposed U.N. observer protection force and gave some details about the way it could be established and function. He also reiterated the Palestinian position that Israeli consent is not a precondition for action by the Council. He did acknowledge however that Israeli cooperation with regard to implementation of the resolution was needed, but that it should be secured by the efforts of all parties. In closing, the President reiterated the Palestinian position on the Middle East peace process, the desire to resume the process under the appropriate circumstances and the Palestinian commitment to it.

Generally, the Members of the Council responded positively to President Arafatís statement, with the Ambassador of Tunisia as the first Council member to speak, setting a warm and welcome tone. The Ambassador of France put forward a specific idea with regard to the presence of a U.N. force of unarmed military observers, an idea that was supported by the U.K. The U.S. Ambassador repeated the same position that this idea required the consent of both sides and that, without Israeli approval, the U.S. would remain opposed to it.

After the members of the Council spoke, President Arafat was given the floor again for closing remarks. He gave the Council members some concise and specific comments in response to their comments and questions and indicated readiness to consider the idea proposed by France. With President Arafatís visit to the Security Council and with the positive positions taken, especially by the NAM members of the Council (Bangladesh, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mali, Namibia and Tunisia), Ukraine and China, as well as the positions taken by France, Argentina, Russia and U.K, the search for international protection for the Palestinian people clearly received greater momentum.

After the meeting with the Security Council, President Arafat left New York and traveled directly to Doha, Qatar for the Ninth Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. At the OIC Summit, the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, the Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian people, and the proposal for international protection for Palestinian civilians comprised the central issue of the agenda.