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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/55/PV.86
19 December 2000

Official Records
General Assembly
Fifty-fifth session
86th plenary meeting
Tuesday, 19 December 2000, 10 a.m.
New York


President: Mr. Holkeri.............................(Finland)


The meeting was called to order at 10 a.m.


/...

Reports of the Fifth Committee


Agenda item 138


Financing of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East


(b) United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon


Report of the Fifth Committee (A/55/681)

The Acting President: The Assembly will consider the report of the Fifth Committee on sub-item (b) of agenda item 138, entitled “United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon”.

I now call on the representative of Israel, who wishes to speak in explanation of vote before the voting.

Mr. Jacob (Israel): I should like to note that in principle, Israel supports the continued funding and strengthening of United Nations peacekeeping operations. It is only because of the fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 14 that Israel is opposed to the draft resolution contained in document A/55/681.

At this time I would like to briefly clarify a few facts relating to the Qana incident. What occurred at Qana in April 1996 was deeply tragic, incurring the loss of life and significant damage to property. The cause of this incident, however, was tragic as well. The cause was the cynical tactics of the terrorist organization, Hezbollah, which used civilians as human shields for its attacks. While Israel had no way of knowing that there were civilians taking refuge in the area, Hezbollah was well aware that its activities would jeopardize the lives of innocent civilians nearby.

As we have previously pointed out, this heinous guerrilla tactic remains in use today throughout the world. Unfortunately, it has also been a tactic that the Hezbollah has used in concert with their other terrorist operations, including the taking of hostages, violent assaults on the diplomatic missions of States and the deliberate targeting of civilian in rocket attacks.
In this case, the rocket attacks were launched from a site less than 300 metres from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) compound in Qana, in the hope that Israel’s exercise of its right of self-defence would draw return fire towards Qana and imperil the safety of the United Nations personnel and the civilians in the area. The decision to place on Israel alone the burden of the cost of the damage resulting from the Qana incident is an unprecedented and one-sided initiative. This sort of initiative has never been directed against any other Member State involved in a conflict in which United Nations peacekeeping operations are deployed.

In this regard, I would like to recall the established practice that resolutions relating to budgetary questions are to be adopted by consensus. Due to the introduction of political elements in the resolution, this established practice has been broken. The responsibility for the failure to achieve a consensus on this issue lies squarely with those who seek to exploit every item on the agenda to advance political objectives.

For these reasons, Israel will vote against the fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 14, and should these paragraphs be retained, Israel will vote against the draft resolution as a whole.

The Acting President: The Assembly will now take a decision on the draft resolution recommended by the Fifth Committee in paragraph 11 of its report. The draft resolution is entitled “Financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon”.

A single separate vote has been requested on the fourth preambular paragraph and on operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 14 of the draft resolution. Is there any objection to that request? There is none.

I will now put to the vote the fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 14, on which a single separate vote has been requested. A recorded vote has been requested.

In favour:
Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia.

Against:
Israel, Marshall Islands, United States of America.

Abstaining:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Yugoslavia.

The fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 14 were retained by 85 votes to 3, with 47 abstentions.

The Acting President: I now put to the vote the draft resolution as a whole. A recorded vote has been requested.

A recorded vote was taken.

In favour:
Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia.

Against:
Israel, Marshall Islands, United States of America.

The draft resolution was adopted by 140 votes to 3 (resolution 55/180).

The Acting President: I give the floor to those delegations who wish to speak in explanation of the vote after the vote.
Mr. Smith (United States): The United States strongly supports the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon as it continues its efforts to implement a difficult and important mandate. However, the use of General Assembly funding resolutions to pursue claims against a Member State is not procedurally correct. We opposed resolutions 53/227, 52/237 and 51/233 in previous years, and resolution 54/267 earlier this year, because they contained sections that require a Member State to pay for costs stemming from the Qana incident several years ago. These resolutions were not consensus resolutions.

Since shortly after the United Nations inception the procedure that has been followed is that the Secretary-General presents and pursues the settlement of claims against a State or States. This procedure has been applied before in the Middle East and continues for peacekeeping-related damage claims in the Balkans. Using a funding resolution to legislate a settlement is inappropriate. It also politicizes the work of the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee and should be avoided, both now and in the future.

Mr. Bebars (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic): On behalf of the Arab Group, my delegation, as Chairman of the Group for December, wishes to explain its vote.

With the adoption of resolution 55/180 today, this is the fifth year in which the General Assembly has called on Israel to bear its responsibility by paying the costs incurred as a result of its aggression on the United Nations headquarters in the Lebanese town of Qana.

The position of the Arab Group is based on two central principles. First, we must not allow a deliberate attack on a United Nations peacekeeping compound to set a precedent in the history of the Organization, whereby an occupying Power deliberately targets a United Nations compound. Member States are called on to bear the burden of the impact of this aggression. That would imply additional and unjustified financial burdens for the Member States and threaten the financial situation of these forces.

Secondly, the sanctity of the principle of maintaining the security and safety of peacekeeping personnel is the cornerstone of the funding of peacekeeping operations. Any hesitation in the implementation of that principle would send the wrong message to those States that violate Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and would allow them to circumvent their responsibility for the safety and security of United Nations peacekeeping personnel. It would also allow them to justify their aggression against the headquarters of peacekeeping forces, which would in turn jeopardize the mission of these forces and prevent them from fulfilling their mandate in accordance with Security Council resolutions.

The Arab Group can only, in a responsible way, express its concern vis-à-vis Israel’s disregard of the Secretary-General’s letters, in which he seeks reimbursement of the costs incurred as a result of Israel’s aggression on the United Nations peacekeeping compound in Qana, amounting to $1,284,336. This sum has been recorded as a debit in the Special Account of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The resolution calls on the Secretary-General to take strict necessary measures to compel Israel to assume its responsibility for reimbursing this sum.

On this occasion, the Arab Group wishes to extend its thanks and appreciation to UNIFIL for the positive role it has played. We also express our gratitude for the many sacrifices its personnel have made in fulfilling their tasks.

The Acting President: We have heard the last speaker in explanation of vote.

I shall now call on those representatives who wish to speak in exercise of the right of reply. May I remind members that statements in exercise of the right of reply are limited to 10 minutes for the first intervention and to five minutes for the second and should be made by delegations from their seats.

Mr. Diab (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic): I should like to thank the representative of Egypt for the statement he has just made on behalf of the Arab Group.

I have asked to speak in reply to the statement made by the representative of Israel and to remind everyone why the General Assembly has adopted the resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

This resolution did not come out of nowhere and was not based on invalid premises, as the representative of Israel tried to depict. It arose from a responsibility and obligation forced upon us by the rules and regulations that we follow in the Fifth Committee concerning the financing of United Nations peacekeeping forces throughout the world. The two basic principles followed here are, first, the sanctity of maintaining the security and safety of United Nations peacekeeping personnel, which is the cornerstone in the financing of peacekeeping operations; and secondly, the protection of civilians in armed conflict, as affirmed in the reports of the Secretary-General and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.

The resolution adopted today is not, as described by the representative of Israel, an attack by Lebanon on Israel. Indeed, it is the opposite. The General Assembly has adopted the resolution on the basis of a letter dated 7 May 1996 from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council, as contained in document S/1996/337. This letter dictated the specific characteristics of the resolution, as reflected in the following statement of the Secretary-General in it:

The Secretary-General was very resolute concerning the grave aspects of that incident, which led Lebanon and the Group of 77 to submit the resolution which the General Assembly subsequently adopted. This affirms, first, the deliberate nature of the attack. The report of Major General Franklin van Kappen, assigned by the Secretary-General to investigate this aggression, clearly refers to the deliberate nature of Israel’s shelling of the United Nations position.

Secondly, I would refer to the large number of casualties and the sanctity of the place attacked. The deliberate Israeli attack on the United Nations compound in Qana was a massacre in which 102 Lebanese civilians — most of them women, children and the elderly — were killed.

Thirdly, disregarding the sanctity of the principle of the safety and security of United Nations peacekeeping forces will send the wrong message to the occupying Power and encourage it to continue neglecting the security of United Nations peacekeeping forces. This in turn will unjustifiably threaten the future of United Nations peacekeeping forces and endanger the lives of the personnel and of the civilians whom they protect.

Fourthly, this draft resolution must be implemented if we are to maintain the credibility of General Assembly resolutions, since, for the fifth year in succession, Israel has failed to pay the costs of its aggression and has not responded to letters from the Secretary-General in this respect.

Fifthly, we must ensure that the peacekeeping forces are properly funded so that they can carry out their mandate in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Mr. Jacob (Israel): I believe that in my previous statement I fully clarified the position of my Government with regard to the incident that took place at Qana in 1996, and I am not going to repeat my previous statement. However, the representative of Lebanon also spoke about the need for countries to live up to their obligations and about reports issued by the Secretariat and the Secretary-General, and I would like to make a statement in this regard.

I should like to recall that in May of this year Israel completed its withdrawal from Lebanon, in full compliance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978). This withdrawal was subsequently confirmed by the Secretary-General and endorsed by the Security Council, which referred to it in Security Council resolution 1310 (2000). It must be recalled that Security Council resolution 425 (1978) calls not only for the withdrawal of Israeli forces but also for the restoration of international peace and security and the return of the effective authority of the Government of Lebanon in the area. Furthermore, I would like to recall that, in paragraphs 6 and 7, resolution 1310 (2000) calls upon the Government of Lebanon

Now that Israel has fully fulfilled its obligations in accordance with Security Council resolutions, the responsibility for ensuring peace and security in the area lies primarily with the Government of Lebanon. Clearly, this must include preventing acts of violence and aggression directed against Israel. The Government of Lebanon has failed to fulfil this obligation, which has resulted in numerous violations of the blue line. The most serious of these violations include the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers on 7 October; an attempt at infiltration by heavily armed terrorist cells on 20 October; and the killing of an Israeli soldier by a roadside charge on 16 November. We call once again upon the Government of Lebanon to fulfil its obligations and to prevent all terrorist activities emanating from its territory aimed at the State of Israel.

The Acting President: I call on the representative of Lebanon, who wishes to speak a second time in exercise of the right of reply.

May I remind delegations that statements are limited to five minutes for the second intervention.

Mr. Diab (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic): I apologize for having to speak for the second time in exercise of the right of reply. However, as usual, the representative of Israel has failed to address the main issue under consideration, and instead moved to another issue that has no relevance to the work of the General Assembly today. The Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon has no bearing on Israel’s responsibility for the massacre at Qana. Once again, we would like to reaffirm that it is imperative for Israel to fulfil its obligation, as set out in General Assembly resolutions, to abide by the principle of the protection of civilians and to ensure the safety and security of United Nations peacekeeping forces and their personnel. When Israel has done all that it will have implemented its obligations in accordance with this resolution.

The Acting President: I call on the representative of Israel, who wishes to speak a second time in exercise of the right of reply.

Mr. Jacob (Israel): I am fully aware of the lateness of the hour, and I do not intend to take too much of the time of the General Assembly. However, the representative of Lebanon spoke about the acts of aggression committed by Israel in 1996. I think his baseless allegations should be set against the recent record of the Government of Lebanon with regard to encouraging terrorist activities from Lebanon against Israel. This, I think, says more than anything else about the credibility of his allegations.

The Acting President: We have thus concluded this stage of our consideration of sub-item (b) of agenda item 138.

/...


The meeting rose at 1.40 p.m.



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