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I have the pleasure of enclosing the assessment of the work of the Security Council during the Presidency of Ukraine in the month of March 2001 (see annex).
The enclosed assessment was prepared under my own responsibility in accordance with the note by the President of the Security Council dated 12 June 1997 (S/1997/451).
While other members of the Security Council were consulted on its contents, the assessment should not be considered as representing the views of the Security Council.
I should be grateful if this letter and its annex could be circulated as a document of the Security Council.
*Reissued for technical reasons.
This assessment of the work of the Security Council for the month of March 2001 has been prepared under the responsibility of Ambassador Valery Kuchinsky, Acting Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations.
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
During the month of March, the Council continued to be actively seized of the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, in view of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian crisis. The Council held two separate private meetings, with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine, respectively, and two public meetings to address the question and to take action on a draft resolution.
On 13 March, the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates, in his capacity as Chairman of the Group of Arab States and on behalf of the members of the League of Arab States, requested the convening of a meeting of the Council to examine the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem (see S/2001/216). On 14 March, the Permanent Representative of Malaysia, in his capacity as Chairman of the Group of Islamic States, also requested an urgent meeting of the Council to examine the grave and deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem (see S/2001/231).
On 14 March, at the request of the Permanent Representative of Israel, the Council held a private meeting (4292nd) with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, Shimon Peres, who presented the views of the new Government of Israel on the current crisis in the Middle East and outlined Israeli approaches for its settlement. Following the adjournment of the meeting, the Council held, at his request (S/2001/222) and in accordance with the Council’s previous practice, a private meeting with the Permanent Observer of Palestine, Nasser Al-Kidwa, who presented the position of the Palestinian side on the issues that had been discussed at the previous meeting. The Council members had a useful exchange of views during those meetings, at the close of which official communiqués were issued (S/PV.4292 and S/PV.4293).
On 15 and 19 March, at the request of the Group of Arab States of 13 March, the Council held an open debate. The Council had before it two letters, dated 9 and 12 March 2001 respectively (S/2001/209 and S/2001/226), from the Permanent Observer of Palestine addressed to the President of the Security Council. In addition to the Council members, the Permanent Observer of Palestine and nearly 30 representatives of States non-members of the Council took part in the debate. The Council also heard statements by the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Deputy Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States.
On 20 March, the caucus of the non-aligned States in the Security Council sponsored and circulated a draft resolution (S/2001/266, dated 23 March 2001) and announced their intention to request the Council to take action on it by the beginning of the Arab Summit Conference, held at Amman on 27 and 28 March 2001. By that draft resolution, the Council would express its determination to establish a United Nations force of military and police observers throughout the occupied territories with the aim of contributing to the implementation of the Sharm el Sheikh agreements, the cessation of violence, and enhancing the safety and security of the Palestinian civilians; the force would be mandated to observe the situation throughout its area of operation, liaise between the Israeli army and the Palestinian Authority and report periodically on its activities to the Secretary-General.
On 22 March, four European members of the Council (France, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) jointly introduced draft elements for a presidential statement or a resolution on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. On the same day, in informal consultations, the Council members were briefed by the Secretary-General on the consultations he had held with the parties and all key players involved with a view to finding ways of halting the escalation of violence in the region. In particular, the Secretary-General briefed the Council members about his recent meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon.
From 23 to 25 March, the Council members held intensive informal consultations on the draft resolution sponsored by the non-aligned caucus and the proposals of the European States. Negotiations were also conducted in various formats, with the participation of representatives of the non-aligned countries, the Arab troika (the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain), the four European countries, the United States of America and the Permanent Observer of Palestine.
At the informal consultations held on 26 March, the non-aligned States sponsored and circulated in provisional form a second draft resolution (S/2001/270); the four European countries sponsored and circulated in provisional form their draft resolution (S/2001/269); both drafts represented different versions of the consolidated text that emerged as a result of the negotiations held earlier on draft resolution S/2001/266 and the European proposals. It was decided to carry on with negotiations in the narrow format, with a view to agreeing on a single consolidated text on the basis of the two draft resolutions.
On 27 March, after a series of negotiations in various formats, given the lack of consensus among the members of the Council on a number of provisions of the consolidated text and in view of the holding of the Arab Summit, the non-aligned States requested that action be taken on their second draft resolution (S/2001/270), by which the Council, inter alia, would call for the immediate cessation of all acts of violence and return to the positions and arrangements that existed before September 2000; call on the parties to implement the Sharm el Sheikh understandings and resume negotiations on the basis of their previous agreements; express its concern at the recent Israeli settlement activities and call on the parties to take a number of immediate confidence-building steps; request the Secretary-General to consult the parties on the immediate steps to implement the resolution and report to the Council within one month; and express its readiness to act upon receipt of the report to set up a mechanism to protect Palestinian civilians, including through the establishment of a United Nations observer force.
At the same time, the four European countries sponsored a draft resolution, which appeared as a consolidated text after the last round of negotiations in a narrowed format (S/2001/281). Ukraine joined in sponsoring that draft resolution.
Later the same day, the Council held a formal meeting (4305th), at which the draft resolution sponsored by the non-aligned States (S/2001/270) was put to the vote. The result was nine votes in favour, one against (permanent member) and four abstentions; one member of the Council did not participate in the voting. The draft resolution was therefore not adopted because of the negative vote of a permanent member.