The continued failure of the Security Council to condemn Israeli aggression had encouraged Israel in its violent acts, speakers told the General Assembly this afternoon, as, in response to a request by the Non- Aligned Movement, it continued debating recent Israeli actions in Lebanon.
The representative of Qatar, for example, said that the hegemony of a few over the Security Council's decision-making machinery was undermining the Council's credibility, along with belief in the values and ideals enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
Many other speakers deplored the deaths of civilians, casualties among the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) personnel, the destruction of Lebanese homes and infrastructure and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens. They called for an immediate cease-fire, emergency humanitarian assistance and the implementation of Security Council resolution 425 (1978).
The security of United Nations peace-keepers should be protected and their right to move freely about the country respected, said speakers. Peace negotiations between Israel and Lebanon and Israel and Syria should resume. The representative of France said it was ready to contribute to the establishment and provision of security guarantees that might be necessitated as part of those negotiations.
Some speakers referred to the rights of Israel and other States to defend themselves, but said Israel had gone too far. The representative of the Republic of Korea said those rights were circumscribed by the principle of proportionality established in international law. The representative of Armenia said that while recognizing the right of every nation to self-defence, measures taken for that purpose must be commensurate with the existing threats and serve the cause of a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Argentina, South Africa, Cyprus, Brunei Darussalam, Panama, San Marino, Pakistan, Philippines, Azerbaijan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Malta, Sudan, India, Jamaica, as well as the observer of the League of Arab States.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, to continue its discussion on the Israeli action in Lebanon.
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.
NIZAR MAMDOON (Iraq) said the Israeli aggression against Lebanon was a flagrant violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and constituted a serious threat to the security of the region. It also violated the role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security. He said the Security Council had applied double standards since the outbreak of the Israeli action in Lebanon. A draft resolution by the Arab States urging condemnation of Israel had regrettably not been adopted by the Council. Instead, it had adopted a weak text which did not condemn Israel. The Council had taken that action against the backdrop of an Israeli massacre of civilians that same morning.
Israeli aggression was continuing to target Lebanese civilians and infrastructures, he said. The Security Council had failed over the past 18 years to enforce its resolution 425 (1978), which called for the withdrawal of Israel from Lebanese territory. The convening of the resumed session of the General Assembly confirmed that a majority of the membership was not happy with the way the Security Council had handled the situation. The horrendous nature of the Israeli aggression required the General Assembly to react in an appropriate fashion. It should condemn the Israeli aggression and demand a halt to the attacks and destruction of Lebanese infrastructures. Adoption of such a draft resolution would demonstrate international solidarity with the Lebanese people and expose the double standards of the Security Council.
HASSAN ALI HUSSEIN AL-NI'MAH (Qatar) expressed his full solidarity with the position expressed by the President of Lebanon, Elias Hraoui, at the opening of the General Assembly meeting yesterday. He said voices had risen in the Security Council to call for justice and peace, but the Council had not condemned the aggressor, nor had it forced the aggressor to stop its aggression. He would have liked to see the Security Council adopt the resolution presented by the Arabic group. The resolution actually adopted had led to the degradation of the situation, fanning the flames of violence and destruction. The lack of a quick response by the international community was unjustifiable and unacceptable. The behaviour of the Security Council had shaken belief in the values and ideals enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The hegemony of a few over the Security Council's decision-making machinery was undermining the Council's credibility.
Peace and security in the Middle East could not be achieved unless Security Council resolution 425 (1978) was implemented. Security Council resolution 242 (1967) should also be implemented. There should be an immediate halt to all Israeli military operations in Lebanon and a withdrawal of all Israeli forces from that country. International humanitarian aid should be provided to ensure the reconstruction of Lebanon.
JAVAD ZARIF, Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, said the occupation of southern Lebanon by Israel for the past two decades was a clear case of aggression and violation of the territorial integrity of Lebanon, as well as a blatant disregard for the repeated demands of the international community, including Security Council resolution 425 (1978). The Israeli attacks also constituted "a textbook case of State terrorism and a clear case of crime against humanity, deliberately and indiscriminately targeting civilians with terrorist and criminal intent". The international community, particularly its members with influence, much take every step to bring Israeli atrocities against Lebanon and the Lebanese civilians to an end. Iran, in addition to providing humanitarian assistance, had been in close contact with Syria and Lebanon, as well as Italy as President of the European Union, France and the Russian Federation.
He said the Security Council had been prevented in the past 18 years from taking any step to put an end to the non-compliance of its resolution demanding the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon. He said the Council, which acted on behalf of the entire membership and could be held accountable before it, should be asked to explain its duplicity and to desist from undermining its own resolutions and damaging the credibility of the Organization as a whole. The General Assembly which "took the lead in rejecting the Security Council's appeasement policy in the Bosnian case", should once again take the lead in contributing to an immediate, realistic and durable end to the wave of violence and bloodshed.
AHMED SNOUSSI (Morocco) said he was horrified and saddened by the images of the bombing victims in the middle of the United Nations compound, and concerned by the violation of Lebanon's territorial integrity. The international community should rapidly provide emergency humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people. The security and freedom of movement of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) should be preserved. Efforts to end the hostilities in Lebanon should be intensified and should result in the implementation of Security Council resolution 425 (1978), including the return of the Golan to Syria. Such efforts could encourage the promotion of a just, durable and global peace in the region.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said the situation in Lebanon justified the diplomatic actions under way, the adoption of resolution 1052 (1996) by the Security Council and the present General Assembly meeting. He said international humanitarian assistance must reach the country as soon as possible. The security and freedom of movement of UNIFIL must be fully respected. Free access along the coastal road must be established to facilitate the movement of humanitarian convoys.
He appealed to the international community, particularly international financial institutions, to help reverse the damage caused to housing in Lebanon and to that country's infrastructure. France was working to restore power supplies and sending 3 million francs worth of emergency aid. There should be an immediate cease-fire and application of Security Council resolution 425 (1978) regarding the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon. The peace negotiations between Israel and Syria and between Israel and Lebanon should be resumed as soon as possible. France was ready to contribute to the establishment and provision of security guarantees that might be necessitated as part of those negotiations.
EMILIO J. CARDENAS (Argentina) said the cycle of violence constituted a threat to international peace and security. The Security Council resolution constituted a scenario on which the crisis could be brought to an end. The resolution should be supported and assistance should be provided to the people of Lebanon. His Government was dispatching food and medicines to Lebanon.
Argentina deeply deplored the loss of life and damage caused in Lebanon and similarly regretted the deaths in Israel as a result of terrorism, he continued. He also paid tribute to the Fijian troops with UNIFIL and called for respect of the role of the United Nations. He expressed appreciation for the efforts by some governments to bring about a cease-fire. The use of force should be curbed. Peace imposed by force was only a truce. The path of peace through negotiations should be followed. Peace could not be achieved through terror and violence. Only genuine respect for diversity could lead to peace.
PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said peace in the Middle East could not be wholly achieved without reconciliation between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and Israel and Palestine, as envisaged by the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991. He expressed his condolences to the Governments of Fiji and Lebanon, as well as to the bereaved families of the victims. He strongly believed that any self-defence measures should be circumscribed by the principle of proportionality established in international law. Therefore, there could be no justification for the attack on the United Nations peace- keepers' position or for the large-scale military action by Israeli defence forces against Lebanon. He joined the appeals of the international community to the parties to cease hostilities immediately and resume negotiations for a peaceful settlement on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
FREDERICK O. BERGH (South Africa) reiterated the belief of his Government that the intensification of the conflict in Lebanon served the agenda of those forces which sought to disrupt the Middle East peace process. His delegation was particularly dismayed by the total disregard of international agreements governing the protection of civilians during armed conflicts. The Israeli attack on the UNIFIL refugee compound deserved strong condemnation. Israel should be prevailed upon to desist from its attacks which seemed to constitute a policy of collective responsibility and punishment. Such indiscriminate killing and maiming of defenceless people was bound to harden attitudes and lead to the erosion of the will to resolve the conflict peacefully. He said the way forward to a comprehensive, just and durable peace could not be based on force and violence. South Africa urged restraint by Israel and appealed to all the parties involved to respond positively to efforts to end hostilities through mediation and to put the peace process back on track.
NICOS AGATHOCLEOUS (Cyprus) said Cyprus would take immediate steps to provide humanitarian assistance for the alleviation of immediate needs. He supported all initiatives and efforts aimed at finding a solution to the crisis. He joined the international community in calling for a cease-fire and reaffirmed his support for the implementation of Security Council resolution 425 (1978). "At the same time, we recognize the right of all States in the region to exist in peace with their neighbours within safe and internationally recognized borders", he said. "We denounce, in the strongest terms, terrorism and all acts of violence against innocent civilians."
MOHD NOR JELUDDIN (Brunei Darussalam) condemned Israeli military action against Lebanon, saying it threatened the peace and security of the Middle East and could jeopardize the current peace process in the region. He called for an immediate cessation of hostilities among the parties concerned, and for the implementation of Security Council resolution 425 (1978), which called for the immediate withdrawal of the Israelis from southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. Brunei Darussalam welcomed the ongoing diplomatic efforts of the United States and its European allies and hoped an immediate cease-fire could be achieved. It reaffirmed its commitments to see the attainment of a lasting peace and security in the region.
JORGE E. ILLUECA (Panama) said violence was a great evil which threatened the solidarity of societies and was intrinsically incapable of fostering peace. Therefore, the United Nations could not accept any ethics based on punishment which served to radicalize others, poison relations and create terror. The recent events in Lebanon highlighted the need to confront problems with caution and wisdom in such a way as to spare nations further pain and grief. He said the path to peace in the Middle East required early compliance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978). Panama stood behind any action to bring relief to the civilian people of Lebanon.
PIETRO GIACOMINI (San Marino) expressed his astonishment and dismay at the new spiral of violence in the Middle East. He appealed to all parties directly involved in the conflict to stop the fighting and violence and find the real strength to resume dialogue. He called for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 425 (1978) and sincerely hoped that the longed- for peace would be achieved.
AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) said his country had decided to urgently send emergency relief assistance, including medicines, foodstuffs and blankets, to Lebanon to alleviate the suffering of the people. The scale of killings and human misery that had resulted in the Israeli attacks amply proved that State terrorism was the worst form of terrorism. The world had taken note of the aggressive pattern of Israeli behaviour, and of its grave consequences for Lebanon. Twenty years since its adoption, Security Council resolution 425 (1978), which called for the strict respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon, had not been implemented, "in sharp contrast to other Security Council resolutions whose implementation has been followed-up with assiduity". The selective implementation of Council resolutions had not helped the credibility either of the Security Council or the United Nations.
To achieve a durable and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, it was important that progress was made in resolving the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli- Lebanese disputes, he said. The endangered peace process could be saved by Israel's immediate and unconditional withdrawal from all occupied territories. Pakistan appealed to the co-sponsors of the Middle East peace process to influence Israel to fully implement the relevant Security Council resolutions, particularly 425 (1978). In addition, he said Lebanon should be fully compensated by Israel for the widespread destruction it had caused.
FELIPE H. MABILANGAN (Philippines) said he realized that the situation was a multifaceted one, yet he deeply deplored the fact that the brunt of the attacks were borne by civilians. He supported all efforts for peace and the implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions. He wished that the spirit of reconciliation in the Middle East would be rekindled.
ELDAR G. KOULIEV (Azerbaijan) declared his support for the people of Lebanon who had been fighting in the name of unity and the integrity of their country. There must be an immediate cessation of fighting. Violence and terror always erected obstacles to peace. He welcomed the efforts of mediators to bring peace and urged the parties to the conflict to negotiate.
KIM SU MAN (Democratic Republic of Korea) said Israel was behaving as if "to prove that nobody in the world can check its arbitrariness". Its attacks were a grave infringement on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon and a violation of human rights. Israel should immediately stop its attacks and fully respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon. As long as Israel occupied Arab territories, there would be no guarantee for peace and security in the region. To bring about peace in the region, he said Israel should withdraw immediately from the occupied Arab lands as demanded by the world community.
JOSEPH CASSAR (Malta) deplored the bombardments of the civilian populations of Israel and Lebanon, particularly the tragedy at Qana , which cost so many innocent lives. Malta reaffirmed its support for the efforts of UNIFIL in the region and its solidarity with the Fijian peace-keepers. The safety, security and freedom of movement of UNIFIL should be respected to ensure that the United Nations and its agencies played their part in meeting the humanitarian needs of the civilian population. The plight of refugees and displaced persons in the region should also be urgently and adequately addressed.
ALEXANDER ARZOUMANIAN (Armenia) said that, while recognizing the right of every nation to self-defence, measures taken for that purpose must be commensurate with the existing threats and serve the cause of a peaceful resolution of the conflict. He joined the call of the international community for an immediate and unconditional end to hostilities and called on all the parties involved in the conflict to renounce the use of force, resume negotiations and implement relevant Security Council resolutions, resolution 425 (1978) in particular.
ALI MOHAMED OSMAN YASSIN (Sudan) offered his sincere condolences to Lebanon and its people. Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) were binding on Israel and should be implemented. The Israeli shelling of Lebanon was motivated by political considerations having to do with Israeli elections. The Security Council's double-standard policy had convinced Israel that it was immune to United Nations actions and thereby had encouraged its aggression. It was time for the Council to restore its credibility, and he urged the General Assembly to make Israel compensate Lebanon for the damage it had caused.
NALIN SURIE (India) said he was deeply distressed by the cross-border violence in Lebanon. He called for an end to hostilities and in particular an end to attacks on civilians. India would be extending humanitarian aid to Lebanon. He supported Security Council resolution 425 (1978) and urged the resumption of the peace process.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed regret at the loss of life and sympathy to UNIFIL members who suffered casualties. All the parties should respect the safety and freedom of UNIFIL and allow it to carry out its mandate. They called upon the parties to adhere to the resolutions of the Security Council, and fully supported the calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities. The CARICOM States emphasized the need for respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of all States in the region. They readily supported all efforts to bring swift but lasting resolution of the crisis.
MAHMOUD ABOUL-NASR, the observer of the League of Arab States, said the Council of the League had, in an emergency session on 17 April, condemned the Israeli aggression against Lebanon and had expressed its solidarity with the Lebanese people. The Council had urged the United Nations to ensure that the Israeli aggression ended, that Security Council resolution 425 (1978) was implemented, Israeli troops withdrew and Lebanon was compensated by Israel. The Arab League Council had also urged the people of Lebanon to resist Israeli aggression, as provided for in the Charter, and had requested humanitarian assistance for the Lebanese people.
He said the recent Security Council resolution on the situation was not enough. The League supported the statement of the Lebanese President before the General Assembly yesterday. He said the Lebanese people had an inherent right to confront Israeli occupation. The international community should respect public opinion in the Arab world. Israeli aggression against Lebanon would not achieve its purpose. Aggression raised serious questions as to whether Israel wanted peace or to impose its own concept of it. The League of Arab States expected the General Assembly to adopt a resolution that would condemn the Israeli aggression, call upon Israel to withdraw unconditionally from Lebanese territory and provide compensation for Lebanon's reconstruction.