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Briefings by Chairmen of subsidiary bodies of the Security Council
The President: I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Cuba, Germany, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Switzerland, Venezuela and Viet Nam, in which they request to be invited to participate in the consideration of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite those representatives to participate in the consideration of the item, without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
At the invitation of the President, the representatives of the aforementioned countries took the seats reserved for them at the side of the Council Chamber.
The President: I now give the floor to the representative of Israel.
Mr. Gillerman (Israel): At the outset, allow me to congratulate the United States Mission on its very able stewardship of the Council this month.
Israel is under attack. During the past week, over 170 Qassam rockets were fired by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Those rockets were meant to maim and kill Israelis — to attack children and to attack families. Scores of people have been injured. One woman — 35-year-old Shir’el Freedman — was tragically killed yesterday when a Qassam rocket hit her car. In the city of Sderot, the schools are closed, the shopping malls are empty and the playgrounds are desolate. Everyone is at home, huddling in their shelters, hiding under the stairs, waiting for the wailing sirens to announce the next terror attack. Sderot is a city besieged by terror.
But there is no justification for those terror attacks. There is no reason to target Israel. Israel left Gaza — every single inch of it — nearly two years ago, hoping that the Palestinians would take control of their own lives. Sadly, we all know what the terrorists are trying to accomplish. In recent months, the situation has grown more and more distressing since it began last year with Hamas, a terrorist organization, leading the Palestinian Government. A power struggle has emerged, where Palestinian factions are at war with each another. Rather than work to create an authentic unity Government that meets the standards of the international community, Hamas tries to unite the warring Palestinian factions with hatred of Israel.
Hamas therefore fires its rockets to kill Israeli women and children while cynically trying to provoke Israel’s reaction and bring Israel back into Gaza, and thereby blame the common enemy of the Palestinian people, which — as Palestinians are brainwashed from childhood to believe — is Israel. The international community has accepted that situation for far too long. Too many excuses have been made. But we know there can be no excuses. Enough is enough!
Although Israel has exercised tremendous restraint, it will not tolerate those attacks. Israel is ready to take any measures necessary to defend its citizens. Israel reserves the right to self-defence, as any other nation would if placed in the same intolerable situation. We often hear the international community refer to terrorism as a global phenomenon requiring a global response. Yet sometimes the absence of international outcry to the terror that Israel faces shows a disconnect between rhetoric and reality.
Terror for Israel — as is the case, unfortunately, for so many around this table — is not a technical matter. It is far too real, far too ominous, far too deadly and far too daily an occurrence. The growing lawlessness and chaos in Gaza is regrettably familiar. We saw it in Lebanon. Despite the resolve of the Council, Hizbullah is rearming. Weapons are moving across the border between Syria and Lebanon, in violation of the embargo and in violation of resolution 1701 (2006). The weapons, we know, are a poisoned gift from Iran. They travel through Syria to the hands of Hizbullah undisturbed, in fact abetted.
For that and more, Iran and Syria have earned themselves an unholy reputation as exporters of terror. Syria is home to Khaled Mashal, the godfather of the inter-Palestinian bloodshed, who has shown he cares little for Palestinian interests or Palestinian lives. Iran indeed epitomizes terror as a global phenomenon. It is responsible for terrorism far beyond the region, in such far-away places as Latin America, where the Argentine Government has issued warrants for the arrest of senior Iranian officials in connection with terror attacks there. While the international community seeks measures to enhance peace and security, Iran and Syria seek to increase hostilities and insecurity by giving weapons to its terrorist proxies and spreading its destabilizing tentacles.
Iran and Syria, Hamas and Hizbullah represent one side of a clash that is working to destabilize our region, and indeed the entire world. In fact, the whole Muslim world is fractured between two camps, between the forces of moderation and the forces of extremism. We see it in Iraq. We see it in Lebanon. We see it among the Palestinians. Those are warring forces within Muslim civilization. They are battling for the soul of Islam. They are battling for the hearts and minds of the region. The extremists use terror to intimidate and indoctrinate. They use violence and fear to terrorize the citizens of the region. This is indeed a clash of civilization — in the singular.
Recently, in fact as recently as the past few days, we were emboldened by courageous Arab and Muslim leaders who are making a stand and are also saying enough is enough. Therefore, today more than ever, it is the duty of the international community to embolden moderates and isolate and marginalize extremists. While the international community cannot dictate the outcome of that clash, it can decide how to relate to the different actors, and it can be clear about what each of those actors can expect from the international community.
That is why the international community must continue to exert pressure on Hamas to embrace the three basic conditions of the Quartet. Without them, terror will continue. The Quartet’s conditions — to recognize Israel, renounce violence and terror and abide by previous agreements — are integral to ensuring that a future Palestinian State is one that is founded on the basis of good governance and democracy.
As I have said, the painful terror that Israel has faced in the past week makes it difficult to limit my address purely to the technical aspects of today’s counter-terrorism briefings. I therefore beg the Council’s indulgence in referring delegations to the printed version of my statement in order to hear our positions on the truly good work of the Council’s subsidiary bodies.
The international community must understand that terror will not stop on its own. Terror will not stop only by embracing the moderates, and terror will surely not stop by making concessions to the extremists. Countering terrorism means showing determination, putting pressure on the extremists, and letting them know that those barbaric acts are intolerable. Counter-terrorism is not just about technical resources and information-sharing; it is about taking action, both in the technical and in the practical realms. It means eliminating the threat so that a world of peace, security and freedom can flourish, particularly in our region, where it has been repressed, held hostage and ignored for so long.
Mr. Mayoral (Argentina) (spoke in Spanish): ...
On the subject of terrorism, it is regrettable to see that, in recent months, the situation at the international level has not improved. There has been a notable increase in terrorist attacks and activities. Beyond the Committees’ meetings and documents, every day we see horrors reported by the media: suicide attacks, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, kidnappings and murders, which continue to occur and indeed are increasing in number and spreading. Now they not only occur in Palestine, in Israel or in the Middle East, but are spreading to Africa and Afghanistan. We wish to state here that terrorist attacks have recently reached the capital of my country, Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, it has not yet been possible to arrest the terrorists who perpetrated the AMIA attacks in Buenos Aires. This is a daily tragedy which, unfortunately, no longer moves us, and that is truly regrettable.
There is a need to adopt measures and policies to address the conditions leading to the spread of terrorism, as was stated last year by the General Assembly when it adopted the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, in particular in cases of prolonged and unresolved conflict. A peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict is, as we all know, a key priority for reducing the number of terrorist acts that occur daily in that region and which, regrettably, are spilling over to other areas.
The President: I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon, in which they request to be invited to participate in the consideration of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite those representatives to participate in the consideration without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
At the invitation of the President, Mr. Ja’afari (Syrian Arab Republic) took a seat at the Council table; Mr. Ramadan (Lebanon) took the seat reserved for him at the side of the Council Chamber.
The President: I give the floor to the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Mr. Ja’afari (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): ...
Syria has suffered from terrorism itself, in particular from Israeli State terrorism. I wish to emphasize here today that terrorism spread through the region only after the appearance of Israeli State terrorism. Israeli State terrorism, which has targeted the infrastructure, helpless civilians and stability of the Middle East as a whole, has been going on for several decades. Since the establishment of the Security Council its files have grown to include hundreds of items having to do with Israeli terrorist operations against Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians and Jordanians. Israeli State terrorism has even reached Tunisia and Iraq, in a way never seen by the international community and in a way not in keeping with the objectives of the Charter.
May I remind the Council, by way of example, of the actions perpetrated by the Israeli Irgun and the Stern Gang — the killing Count Bernadotte, the United Nations mediator in Palestine, in 1948. There have been repeated Israeli aggression against the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Qana in 1996 and in 2006. Let us recall as well aggression carried out for years now against Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian school children, not forgetting the UNRWA schools in occupied Palestinian territory, which were targeted by shellings and air attacks.
Was Count Bernadotte a terrorist? The UNIFIL troops, the Arab school children — are those people terrorists? The address of international terrorism is well known to many of us. The address is the aggressive policy of Israel, the policy of occupation, provocation and hostility that refuses to extend its hand to those among the Arab peoples who advocate peace, and that refuses to heed the call of the international community to develop peace on the basis of the Arab peace initiative and on the basis of the principle of land for peace.
The ongoing Israeli occupation of Arab territories in Palestine, the Golan and southern Lebanon is the worst and most dangerous form of terrorism, especially as this terrorism is also accompanied by obvious Israeli actions declared and documented by the United Nations as violations of the relevant Security Council resolutions countering terrorism. Certain Israeli politicians make their statements openly; they incite hostility and aggression against neighbouring countries so that people in those countries will be killed, as though we lived in the Middle Ages, in a pre-consensus international age.
Regarding the references and sources of international law, counter- terrorism requires of Israel first of all that it join in collective international action and that it not act outside that collective framework. It requires that Israel cooperate with the counter- terrorism bodies of the Security Council. That must be done without selectivity, without prejudice or unilateral positions. Israel must also stop setting a bad example at the United Nations by its acts of State terrorism and the ongoing forcible occupation of land that does not belong to it.
Israel’s continuing policy of State terrorism only serves to underscore that our request made last year for an international conference to define terrorism is still very relevant. That request relates to the need to ensure that we do not confuse legitimate struggles for independence and autonomy with State terrorism.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you, Mr. President, that international terrorism did not begin on 11 September 2001. International terrorism goes back much further in time, as it targeted many countries before its criminal act of 11 September against the United States and its people. For decades we have suffered various forms of Israeli terrorism. We can participate in the international efforts aimed at eradicating international terrorism in all its forms.
The President: I give the floor to the representative of Lebanon.
Mr. Ramadan (Lebanon): We would like to commend you, Mr. President, for your excellent stewardship of the Council, which has firmly supported my country over the past three years.
Lebanon has long been the victim of terrorism in all its forms — from the ultimate manifestation of terrorism in the form of foreign occupation to the terrorist attacks perpetrated against our civilians and armed forces that we have all witnessed over the past two days and the assassinations that have taken the lives of our leaders, journalists and politicians.
Lebanon is determined to fight the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Lebanon is a staunch ally in the international efforts tot eradicate terrorism. Lebanon has signed and ratified 11 of the 13 international conventions on terrorism, in addition to the Arab convention in that regard. Lebanon also continues to cooperate fully and in a timely manner with the Committees established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004).
Today more than ever, Lebanon is in need of the support of this body and of the international community in the face of the ruthless terrorist groups that have been targeting our civilians and armed forces since last Sunday. Seventeen Lebanese Army soldiers were the victims of a surprise attack that took their lives in a vicious and ruthless manner — some of them beheaded while they slept. Our civilians, as well as Palestinian civilian refugees living in Lebanon, have been attacked and their lives have been threatened. Two explosions have disturbed the peace of Beirut, resulting in loss of life and material damage. Even as we speak, our Lebanese army is relentlessly fighting those terrorist groups, while doing its utmost to safeguard and protect Lebanese and Palestinian civilians.
Since the end of October 2004, Lebanon has been the victim of assassinations that have taken the lives of our Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and many others, as well as of attempted assassinations. The Security Council has stood by Lebanon in its firm determination to bring the perpetrators of those heinous crimes, including those who financed and executed them, to justice.
Israel, the State responsible for the ultimate form of terrorism committed against my country in its continued occupation of Lebanese lands since 1978, renewed its aggression against Lebanon during its war in the summer of 2006 — a war that took the lives of more than 1,200 Lebanese civilians, one third of whom were children, left more than 4,000 injured and caused more than $8 billion in material damage.
After that war, Lebanon fully committed itself to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), including the prevention of the flow of arms into its territories without its consent, as affirmed on several occasions by a number of Lebanese officials. Lebanon is also cooperating fully, with assistance provided by the United Nations in this regard. Israel, however, continues to occupy Lebanese lands, including in Al Ghajar village, and is violating — sometimes on a daily basis — our national sovereignty.
It is worth mentioning in this regard that Hizbullah did not exist in 1978, when Israel first invaded my country, Lebanon. Nor did it exist in 1982, when the Israeli invasion reached our capital, Beirut. Hizbullah was only a popular resistance movement in response to occupation.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Professor Dugard, speaking in another forum within this Organization, advised the Israeli delegates not to level accusations of terrorism, since they add nothing to the debate and do not solve the real cause of the problems of the Middle East. Professor Dugard concluded that the real cause of the problems in the Middle East is occupation.
Lebanon remains fully committed to fighting the scourge of terrorism and to cooperating with international efforts aimed at eradicating it.
The President: There are no further speakers on my list. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.
The meeting rose at 2.30 p.m.