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Annex to the letter dated 1 May 2012 from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council
Assessment of the work of the Security Council during the presidency of Portugal (November 2011)
During November, traditionally a busy month, the Security Council dealt with 27 items. The Council held 26 public meetings and 18 consultations of the whole, adopted three resolutions, one statement by the President and nine statements to the press.
With regard to the Middle East, one of the main issues during the month of November was the application of Palestine for membership in the United Nations. As President of the Security Council, I chaired two private meetings of the Committee on the Admission of New Members. At the first meeting, on 3 November, delegations expressed their views on the application of Palestine, on the basis of which the Chair of the Committee prepared a report that was adopted on 11 November. Owing to differing views and lack of unanimity on the issue, the Committee’s report did not include any recommendation on the Palestinian application for membership in the United Nations. The Committee’s report was issued and is before the Security Council.
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
On 21 November, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process briefed the Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Concerning the Middle East peace process, he considered that provocations continue to damage confidence and make resuming negotiations very difficult. He stressed the need to find a meaningful diplomatic way forward, including in the framework of the Quartet statement of 23 September. Both parties would have to show flexibility and responsibility. Direct engagement should be facilitated by a conducive environment and therefore the situation must “de-escalate”. To that end, Israel should act on its settlement obligations and immediately unfreeze transfers to the Palestinian Authority. It should also be mindful of the continuing appeal of the Palestinian Authority for prisoners to be released, some dating back to before the signing of the Oslo Accords. For its part, the Palestinian Authority should find ways to contribute to the de-escalation of the situation and improve the prevailing divisive climate, including in the international arena. The Special Coordinator also referred to the situation in Gaza and southern Israel, which had once again witnessed dangerous violence after rocket fire by militants and Israeli strikes. He mentioned in this regard that preserving calm in Gaza and southern Israel continues to be crucial for improvements there and for the overall political atmosphere. He said that the United Nations condemned the indiscriminate rocket attacks and called upon Israel to exercise maximum restraint and minimize the risk to civilians, and reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for all to fully respect international humanitarian law.
In consultations of the whole, Council members expressed both their support for the efforts of the Quartet and their concern over the lack of progress in negotiations and the troubling developments on the ground, in particular Israel’s continued settlement activity and decision to hold payments of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority. They supported the Special Coordinator’s appeal for a de-escalation of the situation and reiterated the need for all parties to abstain from provocative actions and to resume meaningful direct negotiations. Some delegations reaffirmed their support for Palestine’s admission to the United Nations, while others recalled the lack of unanimity on the issue and proposed an intermediate step by upgrading the status of Palestine in the General Assembly to that of an observer State. Some members stated that there are no alternatives to direct negotiations between the parties.
Palestinian request for admission to membership in the United Nations
During the month of November, the Committee on the Admission of New Members held two private meetings to discuss the application of Palestine to the United Nations. At the first meeting, on 3 November, delegations expressed their views on the application of Palestine, on the basis of which the Chair of the Committee prepared a report that was adopted by consensus on 11 November (S/2011/705). Owing to differing views and lack of unanimity on the issue, the Committee’s report did not include any recommendation on the Palestinian application for membership in the United Nations. The report is before the Security Council.
Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
On 29 November, the presidency delivered a statement on behalf of the Security Council on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.