The amendment would add a new operative paragraph by which the Assembly would confirm the right of all States in the region to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders. Speakers disagreed on admissibility of the Russian Federation amendment, but, following an exchange among delegations, the President of the Assembly, Diogo Freitas do Amaral (Portugal), said the Assembly had decided to allow the amendment to be introduced. Prior to that decision, it had been agreed to waive rule 78 of the Assembly's rule of procedure, which requires a draft text to be in circulation for 24 hours before being voted upon, so that it could be voted on today.
During the general debate regarding the Israeli attacks against Lebanon, the representative of Australia said that, with any draft resolution on the subject, he would be concerned with the absence of a reference to the right of security and respect for the territorial integrity of all States in the region. Israel had the right and responsibility within international law to guarantee its security against terrorist attacks. Lebanon and its people also had the rights guaranteed by the Charter. The observer of Palestine condemned the Israeli attacks against Lebanon and said they were harming the Middle East peace process. She said that at the current Palestine National Council session, President Yasser Arafat had called for an Arab summit to address both the situation in Lebanon and in Palestine. It was up to the international community and especially to the United Nations to show its effectiveness in prevailing upon a delinquent Member State to adhere to the standards of conduct inherent in United Nations membership, the observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference said. He called for the safe return of the displaced persons in the south of Lebanon, compensation by Israel for the deceased, and reparations for the properties and public services that its military action had destroyed and disrupted.
The representative of Fiji noted that as a result of the shelling by Israel of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) camp in Qana, to date 135 civilians had been killed and 200 injured, among them four Fijian peace-keepers. He condemned that attack and also all forms of terrorism which had brought hardship to communities in Israel. As long as it was needed by the United Nations, Fiji would continue to participate in UNIFIL.
During the general debate, statements were also made by the representatives of New Zealand, Bolivia, Singapore, Turkey, Nigeria, United Republic of Tanzania and El Salvador. During the procedural discussions, statements were made by representatives of the Russian Federation, Swaziland, Egypt, Colombia, India, Syria and Pakistan.
The President announced that Yemen had made the necessary payments to the United Nations budget to be allowed to vote.
The Assembly will meet again today at 3:30 p.m. to take a decision on the draft resolution.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to continue its discussion on the situation in the Middle East, in particular the Israeli attacks against Lebanon. It had before it a draft resolution (document A/50/L.70) by which it would condemn the Israeli military attacks against the civilian population in Lebanon, especially against the United Nations base in Qana. The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to send a special technical mission to Lebanon to study and prepare, within one month's time, a report on the human and material losses and damage resulting from the recent and ongoing hostilities. It would consider that Lebanon is entitled to appropriate redress for the destruction it has suffered and that Israel was responsible for such compensation.
The Assembly would call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, call upon Israel to withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory, in conformity with Security Council resolution 425 (1978), and call for strict respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries.
The Assembly would call upon Member States to offer humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of the Lebanese population and to assist the Government of Lebanon in the reconstruction of the country. It would request the Secretary-General to ensure that the United Nations and its agencies play their part in meeting the humanitarian needs of the civilian population.
The draft resolution is sponsored by Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Cambodia, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
COLIN KEATING (New Zealand) said his country had no political agenda in the Middle East and was not a party to anyone else's agenda. But it was concerned with peace and security in the region, the legitimate rights of a country whose territory was illegally occupied and concerned for the innocent civilians in both Israel and Lebanon who had become victims of terrorism and the military response to it.
The options facing any State confronted by terrorist actions were few and legitimate response could be an exercise of the right to self-defence, he continued. But, in that context, the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols were very clear. And measures taken in self-defence or reprisal had to be assessed in that light. Response had to be limited in time and scope and proportional to the attacks. When military operations went beyond that, they became counter-productive and impossible to justify. And worse, they created a casus belli for further response in kind.
He said that Security Council resolution 1052 (1996) called for an end to the fighting, but it continued. It was timely that the Assembly added its voice to the call for both sides to stop the hostilities. New Zealand was disappointed that the draft resolution before the Assembly focused on only one of the parties to the conflict. It would support a resolution which treated both sides in an appropriately balanced way and would welcome some further work on the draft. The best prospect for restoring respect for Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity was a settlement emerging from the current peace process based on resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978). All Member States must respect the security of United Nations personnel, as stated in Article 7 of the Charter.
ISSLAMET POERNOMO (Indonesia), introducing the draft resolution on the situation in the Middle East, said its sponsors hoped that Member States would give it their overwhelming support. Such an endorsement, reflecting the will of the international community, would have a profound impact in bringing about an end to the hostilities and the suffering of the Lebanese people.
EDGAR CAMACHO OMISTE (Bolivia) said that the situation in the Middle East tested the capacity of the international community and the United Nations to seek peaceful solutions to conflicts. Despite the crises in the region, some progress had been made in the search for peace, despite the deaths of some of the soldiers for peace, such as Yitzhak Rabin, the late Prime Minister of Israel and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Bolivia condemned all forms of terrorism and supported the peace process initiated at the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991. It also supported the Declaration of the heads of State and government of the Non-Aligned Movement, made at Cartagena, Colombia. It had called for respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon. He condemned the bombing of the United Nations shelter at Qana, which had been set up to protect civilians. He expressed condolences to the families of those who died in the incident. The United Nations should help ensure that peace and justice became daily realities.
BILAHARI KAUSIKAN (Singapore) said that, while Israel had claimed the right to security, Lebanon, too, had legitimate rights to security and territorial integrity. All States in the region should enjoy the same rights which should be respected. Any attacks against civilian targets were unwarranted. The world deplored terrorist acts and military attacks against civilian populations. The deaths of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peace keepers was also a cause for concern. The United Nations force should not be obstructed and the safety of its personnel and the civilians it protected ensured.
He welcomed Security Council resolution 1052 (1996) adopted on 18 April, expressing the hope that it would be implemented immediately. The Assembly should also strongly and directly reaffirm the importance of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Middle East conflict as a significant contribution to international peace and security, as set out in General Assembly resolution 50/21 of 4 December 1995.
HUSEYIN E. CELEM (Turkey) said that despite the Security Council's adoption of resolution 1052 (1996), which called for a cease-fire, the situation in Lebanon had worsened. The indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians, like that at the Qana camp, was unacceptable and Turkey expressed its indignation over that deplorable act. The recent event showed that peace was a valuable commodity and the people of the region should continue their march towards it.
He said that his Government had always seen terrorism as the biggest threat to peace. The struggle against it was a legitimate right of the countries in the region. As Turkey had previously stated, terrorism must be eliminated in order for the quest for peace and stability in the Middle East to succeed. At the same time, no harm should be visited upon innocent people while that struggle went on. The fight against terrorists must remain within the bounds of law. Unfortunately those calls had fallen on deaf ears. All countries in the region should recommit themselves to peace and cooperate to fight terrorism. Lebanon should be given the right to extend its authority over all its territory. Only then could it be asked to stop terrorist acts from its territory. Its sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and Security Council resolution 425 (1978) implemented.
IBRAHIM GAMBARI (Nigeria) said Nigeria considered the Israeli attacks a clear violation of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Lebanon. The international community could not afford to watch from the sidelines the tragedy that was unfolding in the region. The Security Council had unfortunately not been able to take firm and forthright action to put a stop to the carnage. Nigeria wished Security Council resolution 1052 (1996) had contained elements capable of providing an adequate response to the crisis. None the less, Nigeria called on the parties to agree to a cease-fire and negotiations of the political problems between them. An early agreement on cessation of hostilities would enable the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies to address the serious humanitarian consequences of the conflict.
He said the legitimate security concerns of Israel could not be doubted or downgraded. Nigeria strongly condemned the attacks by Hezbollah, which could not advance its objective of getting Israeli forces out of Lebanon. The legitimate concerns of both parties could best be assured by full implementation of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, particularly resolution 425 (1978). He urged the parties to exercise restraint and called for a strong resolution from the General Assembly to help chart a better future for the people of the region.
RICHARD BUTLER (Australia) said that a durable settlement needed to reflect certain key elements. Israel's security must be ensured. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Israel and Lebanon must be respected and preserved. And a settlement must engage those countries in the region, including Syria, which bore some responsibility to help end Hezbollah attacks against Israel. It must also provide the Lebanese Government with an opportunity to negotiate for all of Lebanon and include implementation of resolution 425 (1978) and provide credible guarantees for the security of Israel's northern border.
He said Australia would be concerned with the absence of a reference to the right of security and respect for the territorial integrity of all States in the region in any draft resolution. Any text should be balanced in its treatment of the sovereign rights of each party to the conflict. Israel had the right and responsibility within international law to guarantee its security against terrorist attacks. Lebanon and its people also had the rights guaranteed by the Charter. In the prevailing circumstances, care should be taken to avoid steps which would prejudge the outcomes of complex negotiations under way.
He said members should act in ways which supported the possibility that negotiations would bring about an immediate cease-fire. Any outcome of the resumed session should clearly support the need for a comprehensive approach to the present human tragedy and conflict. Members should also bear very seriously in mind that any resolution adopted on such an important matter would reflect upon the standing and respect accorded the Assembly. That respect should remain high. He added that Australia had made emergency contributions of $95,000 to Lebanon to help with the immediate humanitarian needs of displaced persons.
DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) said his Government was particularly concerned at the extension of the conflict in Lebanon which undermined the prospects for peace in the region and frustrated efforts made so far to pursue peace. It also abhorred the indiscriminate killing and shelling of innocent civilians and the wanton destruction of property. Tanzania joined all delegations who were calling for an immediate halt to the military confrontation in Lebanon and further called upon the parties to the conflict to institute an immediate cease-fire and proceed with negotiations on a mutually agreeable framework for peace. The Middle East was replete with Security Council resolutions, he continued. But the selective and double standards in their implementation was glaringly evident. He called for the strict implementation of resolution 425 (1978). His Government reiterated its position that lasting peace in the Middle East would rest upon the recognition of the rights of all and a commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes. But there could be no lasting peace where there was foreign occupation in any land.
POSECI W. BRUNE (Fiji) said that his country had taken part in UNIFIL since 1978. It was shocked and saddened by the renewed outbreak of hostilities in southern Lebanon and the indiscriminate shelling by Israel of the Fiji UNIFIL camp in Qana, with the loss of 135 civilian lives, so far. More than 200 had been injured, including four Fijian peace-keepers. Fiji had expressed its condemnation of the attack to the Israeli Government.
He condemned all forms of terrorism and the slaughter of innocent people which had brought hardship to communities in Israel. At the same time, he said, the territorial integrity of Lebanon must be respected. He reaffirmed his country's commitment to Security Council resolution 425 (1978). Hostilities must end and there should be an immediate cease-fire. He supported the efforts of the United States and other nations to end the hostilities. The international community should assist the civilians displaced by the hostilities. Fiji would continue to participate in UNIFIL as long as it was needed by the United Nations.
RICARDO G. CASTANEDA-CORNEJO (El Salvador) expressed regret at the course of events that had led to the loss of lives and damage to Lebanon's infrastructure. The events could have some negative effects on the peace process. The use of force or violence in any manifestation was not the right way to solve conflicts. Dialogue was better. El Salvador rejected the threat or use of force to achieve political ends and all forms of terrorism. It was essential to respect the sovereignty of all countries in the Middle East and negotiations should be pursued to further the progress of the peace process. Security Council resolution 425 (1978) should be implemented to allow Lebanon to exercise its rights within its internationally recognized borders. The parties should cease hostilities and respect the norms of international humanitarian law.
AHMET ENGIN ANSAY, observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said it was up to the international community and especially to the United Nations to show its effectiveness in prevailing upon a delinquent Member State to adhere to the standards of conduct inherent in United Nations membership. He extended to the Government and people of Lebanon the firm support and solidarity of the Organization of the Islamic Conference General Secretariat and of its entire membership. The international community should put an immediate end to the Israeli aggression and exert pressure on Israel to abide by Security Council resolution 425 (1978), to include withdrawing completely from southern Lebanon. That alone would ensure peace and security in the region. He called for the safe return of the displaced persons in the south of Lebanon, compensation by Israel for the deceased and reparations for the properties and public services that its military action had destroyed and disrupted.
SOMAIA BARGHOUTI, observer of Palestine, reiterated the solidarity of the Palestinian people with the Lebanese in their determination to bring the Israeli occupation of their land to an end. She condemned the Israeli attacks against Lebanon and said it was harming the Middle East peace process. The Security Council should work towards bringing an immediate end to the Israeli aggression and the implementation of its relevant resolutions, particularly 425 (1978). The General Assembly should adopt a resolution condemning the Israeli attacks and for an immediate cease-fire. The resolution should also offer humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of the Lebanese people, and to allow Lebanon to attain security and stability.
She said the Palestine National Council, currently in session in Gaza City, had expressed unwavering support of the Palestinian people for the Lebanese. President Yasser Arafat, opening the session, had called for an Arab summit to address both the situation in Lebanon and in Palestine. She noted the strong historical links between the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples, adding that they would not forget the many sacrifices the Lebanese people made in support of Palestinians in their shared struggle for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Following the statements, the President of the Assembly, DIOGO FREITAS DO AMARAL (Portugal) suspended the meeting for a few minutes. On resumption, he stated that Yemen had made the necessary payments to be allowed to vote.
Mr. CAMACHO-OMISTE (Bolivia) said that his country had made the necessary payments to regain the right to vote, but for administrative reasons the Secretariat had not yet announced it.
The PRESIDENT said that the Indonesian delegate, who had earlier introduced the draft resolution, had stated that it would be renamed "The Israeli attacks on Lebanon and its consequences".
That oral revision to the draft was adopted.
The PRESIDENT proposed to waive rule 78, in order to allow a vote on the draft as the text had only been distributed this morning.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said he had assumed that the resolution would be voted on Friday. Therefore, rule 78 should be not waived and no decision taken on whether to vote today. The issue was very complicated and the matter was something on which many delegations would like to have maximum unity. Therefore, the Russian Federation was holding contacts with the sponsors and other delegations. In the interest of unity and of drawing the maximum number of delegations, all States should be given the 24 hours mentioned in rule 78 of the rules of procedure. That would allow Member States to get instructions from their capitals.
MOSES MATHENDELE DLAMINI (Swaziland) said that the issue under consideration was very delicate and the need to consult with the delegations' capitals was important. As an illustration of how important it was, he gave the example of a football player who was about to go into a football match knowing his exact position and then the referee suddenly changed the name of the game. The frustration of the player was understandable. So it was for delegations. He wanted 24 hours to consult with his capital.
NABIL A. ELARABY (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the co-sponsors of the draft resolution, said that the draft had been in circulation for more than the 24 hours required under rule 78 of the rules of procedure, which states that a text should be circulated no later than the day preceding the vote. The date on the draft text was 24 April, not today's date. He understood the point of view of the Russian Federation and Swaziland, but the sponsors of the draft wanted to vote on the draft resolution today.
PTAKASH SHAH (India) said he fully supported the position of the representative of Egypt and noted that the date on the draft text was 24 April.
JULIO LONDONO-PAREDES (Colombia) said he supported the views of the representative of Egypt on behalf of the co-sponsors of the draft.
The PRESIDENT then asked if the Assembly wanted a formal vote to take place today.
Mr. ELARABY (Egypt) said with every day more people died in Lebanon. The co-sponsors, therefore, asked the Assembly to vote today.
The PRESIDENT then asked the Assembly if there was a request for a formal vote on waiving rule 78 of the rules of procedure.
No request was made and the Assembly, thus, decided to waive rule 78 of the rules of procedure.
Mr. LAVROV (Russian Federation) then proposed an oral amendment, which would add operative paragraph 5 (b) as follows: "Confirms the right of all States in the region to live in peace and security within their internationally recognized borders."
He said the principle was very important. He was limiting his delegations proposed amendments to one, which was not too many considering the news from the Middle East in recent days. If that amendment was adopted his delegation would vote for the draft resolution.
AHMAD HALLACK (Syria) said that rule 128 of the rules of procedure said that no representative should interrupt the voting procedure except on a point of order in connection with the voting. There had been no point of order because the Russian Federation had not submitted any. The Assembly President should conduct the vote on the draft without taking the proposed amendment into account.
The PRESIDENT said he had put the question to the Assembly, but it had unanimously decided to hear the proposal. He asked if there were others.
AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) asked if a decision of the Assembly had the right to overturn the rules of procedure. He asked if the interpretation would become a precedent.
MR. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said he had taken the floor on a point of order. Just before the President began the voting procedure, he had raised his hand to announce his point of order. It was only that his hand had not been seen before the President went on to the announce the process of voting. Syria, Pakistan and the co-sponsors of the draft resolution should give the Members of the General Assembly a chance to express their views on his proposed amendment.
The PRESIDENT said that when he put the question of whether the Assembly would allow the Russian Federation to propose an amendment, it could have been challenged by saying such a question could no longer be put to the Assembly. No one did so. It was too late to raise the question of whether it was correct to allow Russia to make its amendment. The Assembly should proceed on the draft resolution and the amendment.
The PRESIDENT again suspended the meeting. On resumption, he said that he had received a request for the circulation of the Russian and any other amendments in written form. The Assembly could therefore not proceed. He adjourned the meeting.