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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/64/2
31 July 2009

Official Records
Sixty-fourth Session
Supplement No. 2


Report of the Security Council



1 August 2008-31 July 2009




United Nations · New York, 2009




Introduction

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The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, received close attention by the Council. The Council remained engaged with the situation, holding urgent meetings, particularly with regard to the situation in Gaza in the latter part of 2008 and early 2009, debates and open debates. In May 2009, an open debate on the Middle East at the level of Ministers for Foreign Affairs was held, after which the Council, in a statement by its President, reiterated its call for a just, comprehensive and lasting solution, and expressed its support to the initiative of the Quartet and other stakeholders to convene a meeting of the parties in Moscow in the course of the year.

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Middle East


The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

The Council regularly considered and reviewed the situation in the Middle East. The Council stressed the urgency of reaching comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and noted that intensified diplomatic action was needed to attain the goal set by the international community of lasting peace in the region.

On 20 August 2008, the Council heard a briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, which was followed by consultations of the whole. The Under-Secretary-General informed the Council that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as part of the Annapolis process were continuing and that the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas had been largely respected, but that the situation on the ground remained a cause for concern, particularly the continuing settlement activity across the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, and the rise of internal Palestinian violence. A meeting of the Quartet to be held in September, followed by an iftar with Arab partners, and a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee were expected to provide occasions to take stock of the progress made and to assist in the implementation of donor pledges to address the impending Palestinian budget crisis. The briefing was followed by consultations of the whole on the issue.

On 18 September, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, briefed the Council on the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, in particular the talks of 26 and 31 August and 16 September 2008. He also stated that relations between the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon were improving, while the blockade imposed by Israel in the Gaza Strip was still a concern. The briefing was followed by consultations of the whole on the issue.

On 26 September, the Council, at the request of the representative of Saudi Arabia on behalf of the League of Arab States, held a debate at the ministerial level. Although many delegations focused their statements on the settlements that were still going on in the Palestinian territories, others spoke about the global situation in the Middle East.

On 22 October, the Council heard a briefing on the Middle East from the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. He told the Council that, despite ongoing efforts by the parties concerned, the situation on the ground was not improving to the extent necessary to ensure a durable settlement. He hoped that, notwithstanding the transition currently under way, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would not only continue but intensify until the end of the year, within the Annapolis framework. During consultations of the whole that followed, members of the Council reaffirmed their support for the continuation of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and urged the United Nations, as appropriate, to play a greater role in support of the peace process. Members of the Council also emphasized that the international community should not lose sight of the humanitarian situation on the ground.

On 25 November, the Council was briefed by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. He expressed regret that Israel and the Palestinians were likely to fall short of their commitment, made at Annapolis, to reach an agreement by the end of the year. At the same time, he welcomed the parties’ affirmation that they had engaged in direct, sustained and intensive negotiations. After the briefing, owing to the sensitivity of the issue, the Council held consultations of the whole, during which members of the Council held an interactive dialogue with the Under-Secretary-General.

On 3 December, the Council held a debate to discuss the situation in connection with the Libyan ship which was headed to the Port of Gaza carrying humanitarian supplies. Members of the Council made statements. The Council also heard statements by the observer of Palestine and the representative of Israel. The Council did not reach any specific conclusion.

On 5 December, the Council addressed events in Hebron in consultations of the whole. Following the consultations, the President of the Council informed the press that the members of the Council welcomed Israel’s evacuation of settlers, condemned the resulting settler violence, urged respect for the rule of law without discrimination or exception and encouraged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue their security cooperation in the Hebron Governorate.

On 16 December, the Council adopted resolution 1850 (2008), by 14 votes in favour, with 1 abstention. The adoption was preceded by a Council debate with the ministerial-level participation of several members, presided by the Prime Minister of Croatia, Ivo Sanader. The Secretary-General also addressed the Council. Reiterating the vision of the two-State solution while noting the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and the Quartet’s ongoing work, the Council in resolution 1850 (2008) declared its support for the Annapolis process and the irreversibility of negotiations. The Council supported the parties’ agreed principles for bilateral negotiations and called on both parties to fulfil their obligations under the road map and refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations, while calling on all States and international organizations to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations and to assist the Palestinian Authority. It urged intensified diplomatic efforts to foster mutual recognition and peaceful coexistence in the region in the context of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, and welcomed the consideration of an international meeting in Moscow in 2009.

On 18 December, the Council held an open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. The Council received a briefing from the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, on the situation in Gaza and the West Bank. He also addressed the situation in Lebanon and the dynamics between the Syrian Arab Republic and Israel. He said that the main objective in the coming year was to sustain the political process during a period of transition, emphasizing the importance of the adoption of resolution 1850 (2008). He appealed for the observance of basic humanitarian principles in Gaza and warned against the escalation of violence. The Council then heard statements by the observer of Palestine and the representative of Israel, 13 other Member States, and the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

On 28 December, after consultations of the whole that had begun the previous evening following the outbreak of violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, the President of the Council read a statement to the press (SC/9559), expressing serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza and calling for an immediate halt to all violence, calling for all parties to address the serious humanitarian and economic needs in Gaza, and stressing the need for the restoration of calm in full, which would open the way for finding a political solution.

On 31 December, the Council held an emergency meeting on the situation in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. The Secretary-General addressed the Council, emphasizing profound concern that the Council’s call for an end to the violence had gone unheeded, emphasizing the suffering of the civilian population in Gaza, and saying that all parties must fully uphold international humanitarian law. He stressed the need for decisive action and welcomed efforts by European and Arab leaders. The observer of Palestine and the representative of Israel also addressed the Council. Members of the Council made statements, followed by the representative of Egypt and the observer of the League of Arab States.

On 3 January 2009, the Council held consultations of the whole on the situation in Gaza.

On 6 and 7 January, the Council held a public debate at the ministerial level on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. During the debate, the Secretary-General, the President of the Palestinian Authority, the representative of Israel, and representatives of Member States and observers (including Ministers for Foreign Affairs, in particular of the Arab League States) made statements.

On 8 January, after consultations of the whole, the Council held a meeting presided over by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, Bernard Kouchner, at which it adopted resolution 1860 (2009) by 14 votes in favour, with 1 abstention. In the resolution, the Council called, inter alia, for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, as well as the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza.

On 13 January, during consultations of the whole, the Council was briefed by the Secretary-General before his visit to the Middle East. In their statements, Council members welcomed the efforts of the Secretary-General.

On 15 January, in consultations of the whole, the Council was briefed by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Haile Menkerios, on the situation in Gaza, following the attacks on the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Following the consultations, the President made remarks to the press.

On 21 January, the Council held an open meeting and was briefed by the Secretary-General following his visit to the Middle East. During the consultations of the whole that followed, members of the Council agreed to issue a statement to the press (SC/9580), in which they welcomed the ceasefire in Gaza, expressed their strong appreciation for the efforts of the Secretary-General and reiterated their grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

On 27 January, the Council held a meeting at which it heard briefings by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen AbuZayd, on the situation in Gaza. It was the first time that a Commissioner-General of UNRWA was invited to address the Council. Both the Under-Secretary-General and the Commissioner-General expressed great concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and stressed the importance of free access for humanitarian aid. The meeting was followed by consultations of the whole.

On 18 February, the Council heard a briefing on the Middle East from the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He reported to the Council that a number of issues, including the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Palestinian reconciliation, and the new political situation in Israel, needed to be addressed for the peace process to advance, and emphasized the importance of a durable and sustainable ceasefire as called for in resolution 1860 (2009). With regard to Lebanon, he noted that the situation remained relatively stable despite increased tension after the crisis in Gaza. During the consultations of the whole that followed, many Council members stressed the need for an effective ceasefire, unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance, opening of the crossings into Gaza and Palestinian reconciliation and unity.

On 25 March, the Council was briefed by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. He stated that two months after unilateral ceasefires were declared in Gaza there was a worrying situation of impasse and uncertainty. He said that, despite international engagement and support, little progress had been made on the key issues outlined in resolution 1860 (2009). He stressed the importance of the international community and the Quartet in helping to stabilize Gaza and reinvigorate the peace process. He also emphasized the need for commitment, by both the Israeli and Palestinian Governments, to a two-State solution, implementation of commitments on the ground, having a strategy for de-escalating tensions, and addressing the urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza. On Lebanon, he said that the killing on 23 March by a roadside bomb of the Deputy Representative in Lebanon of the Palestine Liberation Organization had shattered the prevailing relative calm in the country. Following the briefing, statements were made by the observer of Palestine, the representative of Israel, Council members, 25 other Member States, and the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

On 20 April, the Council was briefed on the situation in the Middle East by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. The Council held informal consultations during which members stressed the need to achieve a stable ceasefire, implement the provisions of Council resolutions 1850 (2008) and 1860 (2009) and open border crossings to allow the entry of more humanitarian aid.

On 11 May, the Council held a ministerial-level meeting on the Middle East peace process chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey V. Lavrov. The Secretary-General stressed the need to generate momentum in the Israeli-Palestinian talks, warning that the situation on the ground could worsen easily without fresh efforts by both sides as well as the international community. He pointed out that, following the inconclusive results of the previous year’s negotiations, and the bloodshed in Gaza, the past three months had witnessed almost no progress on the two key resolutions — 1850 (2008) and 1860 (2009). He stressed that the challenge was to begin implementing transformative changes on the ground, and to kick-start a renewed and irreversible drive to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

Members of the Council expressed their hope that the commitments made by the parties would be kept and stated that the parties must pursue an irreversible effort towards the two-State solution, including by fully implementing commitments on the ground. The Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2009/14), read by Foreign Minister Lavrov, in which the Council stressed the urgency of reaching comprehensive peace in the Middle East. It stated that vigorous diplomatic action was needed to attain the goal set by the international community of lasting peace in the region, based on an enduring commitment of mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-State solution, building upon previous agreements and obligations. The Council also expressed its support for the proposal by the Russian Federation to convene, in consultation with the Quartet and the parties, an international conference on the Middle East in Moscow later in 2009.

On 23 June, at a formal meeting, the Council heard a briefing on the situation in the Middle East by the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He reported to the Council that international diplomatic efforts were under way to reinvigorate the peace process for a two-State solution, and underlined the importance of reactivating the regional tracks alongside a rejuvenated Israeli-Palestinian track. He also emphasized the negative repercussions of the unresolved crisis in Gaza for efforts to advance the peace process. With regard to Lebanon, he noted that the parliamentary elections had been held on 7 June in an atmosphere of calm and that a climate of dialogue and cooperation had prevailed in Lebanon since then.

During the consultations of the whole that followed, many Council members stressed the importance of the vision of two States, called on the parties to fulfil their obligations emanating from the road map and to avoid taking steps that might prejudge the final outcome of the negotiations. They also emphasized the need for securing Palestinian unity. On Lebanon, Council members expressed the expectation that a government in Lebanon could be established soon.

On 27 July, the Council held an open debate on the situation in the Middle East, during which it heard a briefing from the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco. The Assistant Secretary-General outlined the recent international efforts to create conditions under which negotiations between the parties could resume. He recalled that the Secretary-General and members of the Quartet had met in Trieste, Italy, on 26 June, and informed the Council that the members of the Quartet underlined the need for both parties to implement their obligations under the road map. He also emphasized that Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) remains the main framework for a way forward in Gaza. He called for a prompt and positive response to the Secretary-General’s proposal for the entry of materials needed to complete construction of housing, health and education facilities suspended since 2007 as a means to kick-start recovery in Gaza.

Following the briefing, statements were made by the observer of Palestine, the representative of Israel, Council members and 23 other Member States. Members of the Council reiterated their support for the ongoing efforts to reinvigorate the peace process in all its tracks and the convening of an international conference in Moscow.

Lebanon

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On 30 October, the Council heard a briefing on the Middle East from the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004), Terje Roed-Larsen. He presented to the Council the eighth semi-annual report of the Secretary-General (S/2008/654). He emphasized the importance of the comprehensive implementation of the resolution. Following the briefing, the Council held consultations of the whole, during which the members of the Council welcomed the progress so far in the implementation of the resolution. Members also encouraged all Lebanese parties to fully engage in the national dialogue process and to commit themselves to achieving meaningful progress.

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On 7 May, the Council held a meeting to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004), and was briefed by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General. He noted that the domestic, political and security situation in Lebanon had improved markedly, creating a favourable environment for strengthening sovereignty, political independence and Government control throughout the country. The Special Envoy stated that the parliamentary elections to be held on 7 June would constitute a milestone in Lebanon’s transition since the adoption of resolution 1559 (2004). He stressed that the parties must continue to adhere to the Doha agreement, including the commitment to refrain from using weapons to settle internal political disputes. The Special Envoy informed the Council that the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon had nearly completed the process leading to full diplomatic relations. He also noted the lack of tangible process towards the disbanding and disarming of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias and confirmed that the process should occur through an inclusive political dialogue that addressed the political interests of all Lebanese people. He observed that the United Nations had no means to independently verify the reports about the illegal transfer of weapons across the Syrian border into Lebanon. He expressed concern at the continuation of provocative overflights of Lebanese territory. The briefing was followed by informal consultations.

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