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The President: The General Assembly will now consider the reports of the Fifth Committee on agenda items 115, 116, 116 and 117, 116 and 123, 117, 122, 123, 126, 129, 130 (a), 132 to 137, 138 (a) and (b), 140, 143, 144, 148, 150, 152, 153 (a), 167, 169 and 176.
I request the Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee, Mr. Eduardo Manuel da Fonseca Fernandes Ramos of Portugal, to introduce the reports of the Fifth Committee in one intervention.
Mr. Ramos (Portugal), Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee: I have the honour today to present to the General Assembly the reports of the Fifth Committee pertaining to the second part of the resumed fifty-fifth session of the Committee.
As to the 18 items on the financing of peacekeeping operations, the Committee recommends to the General Assembly the adoption of 17 draft resolutions and one draft decision, which were adopted by the Committee without a vote, except for the draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which was adopted by the Committee with a recorded vote of 113 to 2 against. The report of the Committee on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, under agenda item 138 (b), is contained in document A/55/681/Add.1.
Agenda item 138 (continued)
Financing of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East
(a) United Nations Disengagement Observer Force
Report of the Fifth Committee (A/55/975)
The Acting President: The Assembly will now take a decision on the draft resolution recommended by the Fifth Committee in paragraph 7 of its report.
The Fifth Committee adopted the draft resolution, entitled “Financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force”, without a vote. May I consider that the Assembly wishes to do likewise?
The draft resolution was adopted (resolution 55/264).
The Acting President: We have thus concluded this stage of our consideration of sub-item (a) of agenda item 138.
(b) United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
Report of the Fifth Committee (A/55/681/Add.1)
The Acting President: The Assembly will now take a decision on the draft resolution entitled “Financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which was recommended by the Fifth Committee in paragraph 12 of its report.
A single separate vote has been requested on the fourth preambular paragraph and on operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 15 of the draft resolution. Is there any objection to that request? There is none.
I shall now put to the vote the fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 15 of the draft resolution recommended in paragraph 12 of document A/55/681/Add.1, on which a single separate vote has been requested.
A recorded vote has been requested.
A recorded vote was taken.
Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia
Israel, Marshall Islands, United States of America
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tonga, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay
The fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 2, 3, and 15 were retained by 70 votes to 3, with 42 abstentions.
The Acting President: I now put to the vote the draft resolution contained in paragraph 12 of document A/55/681/Add.1 as a whole.
Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia
The draft resolution as a whole was adopted by 115 votes to 3 (resolution 55/180 B).
The Acting President: I shall now give the floor to those representatives who wish to make statements in explanation of vote.
Mr. Adam (Israel): As I reserved my right in the Committee to explain my delegation’s vote, I am doing so now.
Members of the Assembly have all heard in the past our positions related to the Qana incident, in which the Hezbollah deliberately used the United Nations camp to launch Katyusha rockets at Israel and felt quite comfortable doing so from a safe place with a sizeable civilian population nearby.
I wish to remind the Assembly that there is no precedent whatsoever for a particular Member State’s bearing sole financial responsibility for damage sustained by United Nations forces in the context of peacekeeping operations. It is understood that when peacekeepers are deployed in an area of conflict, they fully understand the dangers inherent in such a task. As such, any damage that is incurred should be absorbed by the general budget for peacekeeping operations, in accordance with the principle of collective responsibility.
I should like briefly to clarify a few facts on the unfortunate incident in Qana, which took place in April 1996.
First, the Hezbollah terrorist organization set up its ammunition base 300 metres from the United Nations camp in Qana, in southern Lebanon. It decided to do so knowing the danger to Lebanese civilians living in the camp, including possible damage to the property of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Israel had officially warned the United Nations about this dangerous situation, but this did not succeed in causing Hezbollah to move.
After fortifying itself at the base, the Hezbollah fired dozens of Katyusha rockets on towns and villages in northern Israel. My country, as is the right of sovereign States anywhere in the world, cannot and will not tolerate bombs falling on its territories and will not stand by while people are being killed.
After three consecutive days of Hezbollah bombing from the base alongside the Qana camp, and after numerous warnings from Israel, including by Prime Minister Peres himself, the Israeli Defence Force had to put a stop to the firing and root out its source — the Hezbollah base.
No country would, or will ever, stand idly by and wait for days as rockets fall on its towns and cities, imperilling the lives of its citizens — no country.
On 24 May 2000, Israel completed the withdrawal of its forces from south Lebanon, in full accordance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978). That withdrawal was confirmed by the Secretary-General in document S/2000/590 and by the Security Council in its resolutions 1310 (2000) and 1337 (2000), as well as by statements by the President of the Security Council on 18 June 2000.
Nevertheless, Hezbollah continues to operate in the area with complete freedom. In the wake of Israel’s withdrawal, Hezbollah quickly moved to fill the posts vacated by the Israeli army and now uses them as a base for attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians.
In the last few months, Hezbollah has crossed the blue line, infiltrated Israeli territory and carried out a number of operations that have claimed the lives of Israeli soldiers. In addition, Hezbollah forces abducted three Israeli soldiers on 7 October 2001 who were patrolling the Israeli side of the blue line. To this day, we have no information on their whereabouts or their condition, as even the Red Cross has been prevented from visiting them.
Is there any country in the world that would accept not knowing a single detail about its personnel missing in action? No country — not the permanent members of the Security Council and not any other country — would accept such a situation. The Red Cross is silent; the Lebanese Government is silent; and the three soldiers are still missing.
Israel seeks a quiet and peaceful border to its north. We wish to see, and we will act resolutely to bring about, the return of international peace and security. In that connection, I should like to recall that in his report of 31 October 2000 the Secretary-General observed that the time had come to establish the state of affairs envisaged in Security Council resolution 425 (1978). That would require,
Israel therefore calls again upon the Governments of Lebanon and of Syria to heed the call of the international community and comply fully with their obligations under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the principles of international law. We further call upon those Governments to proceed with the deployment of Lebanese armed forces up to the Blue Line to ensure the return of effective authority of the Government of Lebanon in the area and to prevent the activities of non-governmental elements operating in the territory under their control, so as to ensure the restoration of international peace and security. Those long-overdue actions would serve to ensure stability along the northern border while demonstrating a commitment to peace and security in the Middle East.
With respect to the budget of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) suggested in the document before us, Israel maintains that UNIFIL should remain in its current area of operation as long as its mandate, as defined by Security Council resolution 425 (1978) has not been fulfilled in its entirety.
My delegation is once again distressed by the political manipulation of the Fifth Committee by certain Member States, and hopes that such action will stop; it diverts the attention of the Committee. I call upon Member States next year to drop the annual four paragraphs suggested with regard to Qana and dictated by the delegation of Lebanon, and to agree on the draft resolution, as we do on all draft resolutions in the Fifth Committee, by consensus. That principle of no voting has been reiterated by every single representative who has addressed the Committee in the past. Israel will gladly join consensus on a draft resolution on the financing of UNIFIL without the political elements that are introduced yearly.
The Acting President: A number of representatives have asked to speak in exercise of the right of reply. 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. Nakkari (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): I had been reluctant to ask to speak in exercise of the right of reply. But, as we see from the report of the Fifth Committee, the representative of Israel was among those who spoke in explanation of vote on this item in the Committee, and the Assembly has been reminded that delegations that explain their votes in the Committee should refrain from doing so once again in the Assembly.
I wish to comment on some of the false allegations that the Assembly has grown used to hearing every year. The most insolent accusation was that some Member States have engaged in political manipulation. Member States have expressed the political will of the international community, and when States voted in favour of this draft resolution they were acknowledging that a deliberate crime had been committed against the symbol of the United Nations and the symbol of peace in our region: the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), its personnel and its camp at Qana. A United Nations officer lost his life in that deliberate bombardment. We continue to recall that, at the time, the Secretary-General characterized it as a deliberate act. It was videotaped by one of the aeroplanes; the tape was shown in Europe, and images were published in many newspapers throughout the world. We therefore share the view that the bombing was deliberate. Thus, false claims that this was not a deliberate act are entirely out of place.
Moreover, Israel’s responsibility in that regard cannot be confused with the collective responsibility for the financing of UNIFIL. Under international law, Israel bears liability for its deliberate bombing. Any party that deliberately commits a transgression, especially against the United Nations, must pay the price. Hence, linking this with Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon is entirely inconsistent with Israel’s obligations.
We heard characterizations such as “the Hezbollah terrorist organization” (supra). That group, alongside other Lebanese resistance forces, compelled Israel to withdraw from the territory it had occupied. But the most insolent statement made by the representative of Israeli occupation was a call upon Syria and Lebanon to control the heroic acts of national resistance aimed at liberating their land.
We remind those who would make allegations in this regard that Lebanon exercises sovereignty over its territory. The heroic resistance in southern Lebanon enjoys Lebanon’s complete support and that of my country. The call issued by the representative of Israel, and his allegations, are misleading and totally erroneous. Syria has always called for the return of a just and comprehensive peace that would restore all its rights. The resumption of negotiations is not an objective in itself; the objective is the restoration of rights. Syria has long called for a balanced, just and comprehensive peace on the basis of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, with a withdrawal to the lines of 4 June 1967. Under those terms, Syria would indeed like to see a balanced, just and lasting peace.
Mr. Assaf (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic): I am speaking in exercise of my right of reply to the statement made a moment ago by the representative of Israel.
He accused us of politicizing this matter, while he himself delved very deeply into a political issue that is far removed from the competence of the Fifth Committee. We believe that the representative of Israel was trying to escape by running forward. We would wish him to return to the subject at hand without addressing the political aspects. This is an administrative and financial matter and should remain so. In this context, I will reply point by point to the statement made by the representative of Israel.
First, concerning the politicization of the issue, we stress that all the additional paragraphs to this resolution called for by the Group of 77 are purely financial and administrative in nature. They contain no political wording whatsoever. Israel should not leap into political discourse, but should implement the resolutions of the General Assembly calling on it to pay compensation for the damages it caused to the compound of the international forces in southern Lebanon. All those present here will recall that 102 Lebanese civilians — children, the elderly and women — were killed in Israel’s attack against Lebanon and the international forces compound. Had we wished to politicize the matter, we would have asked for additional paragraphs calling for compensation to Lebanon for damage to its facilities and civilian population.
Instead, the Group of 77 is calling for reparations and compensation for the United Nations, not for my country, Lebanon. The United Nations headquarters in Lebanon was damaged, as assessed by the Secretary-General, who sent a group of experts and engineers. They came up with a cost estimate of that damage, which the General Assembly adopted, calling on Israel to pay that amount. I repeat and stress that the compensation was to be paid to the United Nations, not to Lebanon.
In this regard, I would refer to paragraph 30 of the resolution, in which the Secretary-General is encouraged to continue to take additional measures to ensure the safety and security of all personnel under the auspices of the United Nations participating in the Force. This is a generic paragraph, the inclusion of which in the resolution was not called for by the Group of 77. It is used in reference to every peacekeeping operation in the world. It calls for ensuring the safety and security of all personnel. Thus, how can the General Assembly be accused of politicizing the matter when it calls for reparations for damage to its own premises and headquarters? How can we accuse the United Nations or the General Assembly of politicizing this matter when we call for this and ask the Secretary-General to ensure the safety and security of United Nations forces?
Another point I wish to make is that we totally agree with Israel that my country was one of the first to sign the United Nations Charter. We also know that paragraph 2 of Article 17 of the Charter asserts the principle of collective responsibility, requiring the expenses of the Organization, including the budgets of peacekeeping operations throughout the world, to be borne by the Members as apportioned by the General Assembly. We cannot deny this, but I ask: Can we conclude from this principle of collective responsibility that any State, be it Israel or any other, may deliberately bomb the premises of international forces and then ask the rest of the world to pay reparations for the damages it has deliberately caused? Such an erroneous conclusion cannot be drawn from the principle of collective responsibility.
Moreover, such a conclusion is diametrically counter to the principle of international liability, by which a country that attacks another State or an international organization, such as the United Nations, must pay compensation for the damages incurred. This is precisely what Lebanon is calling for and what the Group of Arab States and the Group of 77 have kindly accepted to assume.
Another point relates to the use by Hezbollah of the United Nations compound to launch rockets at Israel. I will not speak at length on this issue, but I would refer the representative of Israel to the report of the Secretary-General and his Military Adviser, Major-General Franklin van Kappen, which was drafted by the most impartial entity. It states that:
My last point relates to the prisoners of war. The representative of Israel claimed that three of its soldiers are being held in southern Lebanon. That is true. The Lebanese resistance has held three Israeli soldiers, as it has openly declared on television. However, does the representative of Israel know why the Lebanese resistance holds those soldiers? He does, but conveniently ignores it. There are 13 Lebanese prisoners of war being held without trial in Israeli prisons in Israel. Some have been held for almost 25 years. Does the representative of Israel know that there is a law in force in Israel — the Dirani and Obeid Law — which stipulates the detention of two Lebanese citizens against the wishes of the High Court of Justice of Israel?
Mr. Rajeh (Saudi Arabia) (spoke in Arabic): I will not speak at length. I was rather amazed, listening to the representative of the Zionist entity today, to hear him say that the cause of the bombing of the United Nations compound in Qana was the presence of a Hezbollah ammunition depot 300 metres from the compound itself.
At the time the draft resolutions were adopted in the Fifth Committee, I heard the same representative state that the reason for the Qana bombing was the Hezbollah occupation — and I repeat the word occupation — of the United Nations camp in that town and its launching of attacks on Israel from that camp for three days prior to Israel’s action. Which of the two statements made by the representative of the Zionist entity should I believe?
It is no wonder that that representative has resorted to bald-faced lies. That is a job at which he excels. I advise him that instead of twisting the facts, the Zionist entity must recognize its act of aggression and pay the reparations to which it has been obligated by the General Assembly. It should do so if it respects the Assembly and the international legality it represents.
The Acting President: We have thus concluded this stage of our consideration of sub-item (b) of agenda item 138.
The meeting rose at 4.55 p.m.