Several speakers voiced concern this morning about the deterioration of the Middle East peace process and the current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations, as the General Assembly resumed its tenth emergency special session on "Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory".
The Observer for Palestine said many members of the Israeli Government rejected the "land for peace" principle. Repressive measures against Palestinians, including demolition of homes and detentions and killings, had increased. He said the majority of the international community supported the holding of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce its provisions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.
The representative of Israel said the special session, like those before it, could only undermine the peace process and ultimately the United Nations itself. While Israeli negotiators, in the face of heinous acts of terror, were being asked to take risks for peace, the Assembly would broadcast a vote of no confidence in the peace process. He said the international community must send the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
The representative of Luxembourg, speaking for the European Union and other States, said those countries deplored Israel's failure to respond to appeals by the Assembly and the international community to stop the development of settlements. While such activities were contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention, a conference on the implementation of the Convention in the immediate future might risk additional complications.
The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People said the recent resumption of bilateral talks between the parties on several relevant issues had been encouraging. He hoped it would restore the needed level of confidence. The Assembly should express the will of the international community and adopt measures to restore respect for international legitimacy and move the peace process forward.
Statements were also made by Jordan, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, India, Indonesia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Guyana, Iran, Colombia, Malaysia and Ukraine.
Also this morning, the President of the Assembly announced that Chad, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Grenada, the Republic of Moldova and Togo had made the necessary payments to reduce their arrears below the point which would have resulted in the suspension of their voting rights.
The Assembly's tenth emergency special session will continue at 3 p.m. today.
Assembly Work Programme
The Assembly this morning resumed its tenth emergency special session which is considering "Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory".
Before the Assembly was a report of the Secretary-General (document A/ES-10/16) submitted in accordance with its resolution ES-10/3 adopted on 15 July. In paragraph 10 of that resolution, the Assembly recommended that the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War convene a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure respect for it. The Secretary-General was asked to report on the matter within three months.
In his report, the Secretary-General says he sent a note verbale to Switzerland, as depository of the Convention, requesting it to provide the necessary information. Switzerland sought the views of the 188 States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on possible measures to follow up paragraph 10 of resolution ES-10/3, including comments on the convening of a conference, as recommended, and on the results that might be achieved.
By 7 October, 53 States parties to the Convention had sent written replies, 29 were in favour of a conference and one State was against it, saying that "such a conference would have seriously harmful effects on humanitarian protection and on the peace process". The others offered varying responses.
Switzerland also received a letter from the President of the Coordinating Bureau of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries expressing support for the convening of a conference. Similarly, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States sent a letter expressing "the approval of all the Arab countries ... concerning the holding of such a conference".
The Presidency of the Council of the European Union, on behalf of its 15 States members to the Convention, replied that convening a conference in the immediate future would, in present circumstances, risk additional complications unless it was carefully prepared. It suggested that the possibility should be explored of convening a meeting of experts to examine the political and legal context before a conference of the High Contracting Parties. The experts could also examine the broader implications of a conference.
An addendum to the report, (document A/ES-10/16/Add.1) lists the replies of 20 further countries received as of 5 November on the proposed Conference. It also contains a communication received from the general delegation of Palestine in Switzerland in which the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority affirmed the need to convene a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention as soon as possible, to take practical measures to ensure respect for the provisions of the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to confirm the need to respect them in accordance with common article 1 of the four Conventions of 1949.
By the terms of the draft resolution (document A/ES-10/L.3) the Assembly would decide that, in case of the continuous lack of compliance by Israel, with the provisions of resolutions ES-10/2 and ES-10/3, it should reconsider the situation with a view to making further appropriate recommendations to the States Members. (Those resolutions demanded an end to Israeli settlement activities; Israeli acceptance of the Geneva Convention on protection of civilians in time of war as applying to the occupied territories; reversal of illegal actions against "Palestinian Jerusalemites", and the provision by Israel of information on goods produced "in the illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem".
The Assembly would condemn the failure of the Government of Israel to comply with the provisions of those resolutions, by the continuation of the building of a new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim to the south of occupied East Jerusalem. It would reiterate its call for an end to all forms of assistance and support for illegal Israeli activities -- particularly settlement activities -- in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.
It would also reiterate its recommendation to the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, take measures to ensure respect by Israel, the occupying Power, of the Convention. Also, it would repeat its recommendation to Member States to actively discourage activities which directly contribute to any construction or development of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, as these activities contravene international law;
The High Contracting Parties would be recommended to convene a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the Assembly would request the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the depository of the Geneva Convention, to undertake the necessary preparatory steps to that end. The Government of Switzerland would be requested to invite the PLO to participate in the conference and in any preparations for it.
The Assembly would call for "reinjecting momentum into the stalled Middle East peace process", and for the implementation of agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the PLO, as well as for the upholding of the principles of the process, including the exchange of land for peace. It would decide to adjourn the tenth emergency special session temporarily, authorizing the Assembly President to resume its meetings on request from Member States.
The sponsors of the draft resolution are Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Comoros, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The President of the General Assembly, HENNADIY UDOVENKO (Ukraine), said the tenth emergency special session had been convened at the request of the permanent representatives of Yemen, on behalf of the League of Arab States; of Colombia, as chairman of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries; and of Indonesia, as chairman of the Islamic Group of the Islamic Conference in New York.
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said collective measures must be escalated until Israel complied with the Assembly's resolutions. Israel had not complied with resolutions ES-10/2 and ES-10/3, and the international community must uphold international law. The overwhelming majority of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention agreed on the holding of a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. He hoped the conference would be convened no later than three months from today. The Palestine Authority must participate in preparations for the conference.
He said the Security Council had adopted 25 resolutions affirming the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem. Israel rejected them, and had violated the Convention for 30 years.
He said the deterioration of the peace process as a result of Israeli policies made today's action more urgent. Many members of the Israeli Government rejected the land for peace principle, and the peace process based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). The current Israeli Government had resumed a settlement campaign, stolen natural resources and made changes to East Jerusalem's legal status and demographic make-up. The building of colonial settlements abrogated the rights of Palestinian Jerusalamites to live in their city, as did the opening of the tunnel near Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the attempt to change the situation of the surrounding area, most recently with the start of settlement construction in Jabal Abu Ghneim south of occupied East Jerusalem.
Israel continued to suffocate the Palestinian economy and block the free movement of persons and goods between the territory and the outside world. It had increased repressive measures against the Palestinians, including demolition of homes, detentions, killings and assassinations. It had not implemented any of the provisions of the agreements reached except for the withdrawal from Hebron. All that was established policy rather than a reaction to any specific situation. The Israeli Government's vision of a final settlement would destroy the peace process, and that required intervention by the international community, especially the two co-sponsors of the peace process.
He said the Israeli Government was wrong to place responsibility for bombings in Israel on the Palestinian Authority -- the Palestinian Authority did not believe that terrorist acts committed by Israelis, such as the Hebron massacre and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, were carried out by the Israeli Government. The Palestinian Authority was against violence and terrorism. The environment that generated violence must be abolished. It was ludicrous for the Israelis to say that complaints to the United Nations violated the agreements and harmed the peace process; the United Nations had a responsibility towards the question of Palestine. The agreements reached complemented international law and Security Council resolutions and did not supersede or negate them.
He said the Israeli Government's desire to get rid of the international framework was aimed at abolishing the existence of the Palestinian people and placing them in cantons under Israeli control. The international community had a responsibility to reject those policies. The Palestinian people and leadership were committed to the peace process and the agreements reached, and to East Jerusalem becoming their capital.
DORE GOLD (Israel) said this meeting of the emergency special session, like those that preceded it, was a "masquerade". It claimed to be concerned with advancing peace and increasing humanitarian protection, but in fact it served only to undermine both aspirations, and ultimately undermined the United Nations itself.
The draft resolution, he went on, bore little or no relation to the facts on the ground. At the very moment when Israeli negotiators were being asked, despite the heinous acts of terror that continued to take civilian life, to take risks for peace on vital issues of security -- to enable safe passage through the heart of Israel, to enable a full scale airport to begin operation in the Gaza Strip, to invest millions of dollars to create jobs for Palestinians in the Karni industrial park -- the Assembly would broadcast its resonant vote of no confidence in the peace process.
In their Declaration of Principles and the Interim Agreement, he said, Israel and the Palestinians agreed on two fundamental principles concerning settlements. The first was that there would be no restriction on settlement activity during the interim period. In the course of negotiating those agreements, the Palestinian side dropped a proposal that would have barred the building of new settlements and the expansion of existing ones, agreeing to conclude the agreements without such a provision. The second principle in the Israel-PLO agreements concerning settlements was that settlements would be a subject for negotiation between the two sides in the permanent status talks. On the date set for the start of those talks, Israel turned up, ready and waiting with a team of negotiators, but the Palestinian side never came.
The draft resolution called for reinjecting momentum into the peace process but to do that, he said, the international community must send the Palestinian side back to the negotiating table "where they, and we, and the issues between us, belong". The draft also called for a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to ensure respect for the Convention by Israel. Was such a conference convened when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan? he asked.
In the history of the Convention, despite the many cases of actual occupation, Israel was the only State to have actually implemented in practice the provisions of the Convention relating to occupied territory. The most dangerous aspect of the proposal for a conference was that such a conference would be a dangerous mix of the political and humanitarian spheres. The politicization of the instruments of international law would only undermine their effectiveness and have far-reaching consequences, not only in the region, but in cases of humanitarian need across the world.
Since the last meeting of this emergency special session, Israel had been the victim of brutal terrorist attacks in the heart of Jerusalem -- in a market and in a pedestrian mall. To this day, he said, the Palestinian Authority had failed to comply with its commitment to "combat systematically and effectively terrorist organizations and infrastructure". This was a specific Palestinian obligation that appeared in the Note for the Record of January 1997.
The one-sidedness of this session and the draft resolution before it reflected an approach that threatened to undermine not only the peace process and humanitarian protection, but also the very aspirations of the United Nations itself. Instead of being a tool for helping build peace, this approach threatened to lead the United Nations to undo the work of decades and become merely an implement in the hands of political manipulators. He called on all Member States to resist this dangerous tendency and not be party to today's proposal and all that it stood for.
IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the General Assembly, which had been seized of the issue under consideration in emergency special session since last April, must assess the evolution of events with a view to making recommendations to Members for collective measures, in accordance with the Assembly's "Uniting for Peace" procedure.
The 4 November resumption of bilateral talks between the parties on a number of relevant issues had been an encouraging development, and he hoped the effort would restore the needed level of confidence between them, and in moving the process forward in a positive direction. He also noted that the Israeli Government had taken some steps by gradually releasing frozen funds, partially lifting the siege imposed on Palestinian areas, and allowing some Palestinian workers to reach their jobs in Israel.
Although those measures were essentially a palliative and had only marginally improved the situation in the occupied territory, he said, they could not in any way be construed as a substitute for the needed action on fundamental issues such as a freeze in settlements construction and land confiscation, and the withdrawal of the occupying forces from additional areas. Those issues had brought about the grave situation existing since last year, and eventually resulted in the convening of the Assembly's tenth emergency special session.
The universal condemnation of the international community at the whittling away of Palestinian land -- including by countries and governments friendly to Israel -- had been of no avail. In disregard of Assembly resolutions, construction of the Har Homa settlement on Jabal Abu Ghneim mountain had proceeded, and last week it was reported that the first 1,000 apartments would be ready for sale to Jewish settlers in 1998. The expansion of other settlements throughout the occupied territory was also continuing. At the end of October it was disclosed that the Maale Adumim settlement in the West Bank would be expanded through the planned confiscation of 3,000 acres of land, and would eventually stretch from the outskirts of Jerusalem almost to the border with Jordan.
He said it would soon be 50 years since the Assembly adopted the resolution partitioning Palestine into two States, with a special status for Jerusalem. Innumerable efforts had been made to achieve a just and lasting peace which would enable Palestinians and Israelis to live side by side, on an equal footing, respecting each other's rights and claims, in a framework of partnership and cooperation. In signing the Declaration of Principles in 1993, the parties had made a bold historical move in that direction. They had opted for the difficult and laborious, but ultimately rewarding, task of working together to resolve differences and to achieve mutual understanding. The Assembly must now express the will of the international community in a clear and forthright manner, to adopt measures to restore respect for international legitimacy, and thus help move the peace process forward.
HASAN ABU-NIMAH (Jordan), speaking for the Arab Group of Member States, said illegal settlements and other illegal Israeli practices undermined the achievements already realized. The Palestinian people wanted to know how peace could be realized without justice, and security without peace. How could there be progress on the road to peace if Israel did not abide by its commitments?
He said the draft resolution condemned the new settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim, and all illegal settlements. It called for the cessation of the building of such settlements. He reviewed other provisions of the draft resolution, and points from the Secretary-General's report to the Assembly.
There were many variety of dangers, including political and demographical, in the continuation of settlements in occupied territory, he said. The Assembly would doubtless adopt the draft before it and Israel, as usual, would not comply. He called on the Assembly to review and correct policies which obstructed the peace process.
NABIL ELARABY (Egypt) said the issue of settlements was a major impediment to the peace process. Settlements were in disregard of international law and the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. At the same time Israel said it adhered to the peace process. This was a clear contradiction that angered the international community. How could one demand the Palestinians, whose land had been usurped, to change the situation by negotiation in light of Israel's refusal to withdraw?
He said the Israeli Government was obviously building settlements because it had no intention to return the territories occupied since 1967. Those territories did not belong to them legally. All States, except Israel, recognized the applicability of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Israeli-occupied territories. The Israeli Government violated the Convention's provision against large-scale destruction of property. Israel was wrong to say the agreements reached did not prohibit the establishment of settlements. When Palestinians built on occupied territory they were building on own land.
The Arab world, he said, agreed with the policies of Yitzhak Rabin, which would probably have led to peace. The policies of the present Israeli Prime Minister caused the deterioration of the situation. Israel must cease its settlement policies. They were against its contractual obligations. Compliance was not optional. There must be no double standards.
The peace process had not moved for a year and that was a matter of deep concern for Egypt which affected the security of all States in the region, pushing public opinion towards extremism and violence. Egypt had been the first to take the initiative for peace in the Middle East and continued to strive for a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement based on the principle of land for peace.
He said the current Israeli Government reopened previously-signed agreements, refused to withdraw from occupied lands, and continued expansion of settlements including settlement in East Jerusalem. It refused to withdraw from Lebanon and the Golan Heights, and rejected demands for a Palestinian State. The security sought by Israel could be achieved only by restoration of the right to self-determination of Palestinians. Peace was the only path to security and regional cooperation. It was high time for all contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to convene a conference to make sure Israel applied provisions of the Convention to the Occupied Territories and Egypt called for support for the current resolution.
MOHAMMAD JASSIM SAMHAN AL-NUAMI (United Arab Emirates) said Israel continued to build illegal settlements throughout occupied Palestinian and Arab territory, and to limit the movements of the Palestinian people and the circulation of goods of the Palestinian authorities. It took the identity cards of the citizens of East Jerusalem in attempts to change the demographics and culture of the area. Israel's violation of international humanitarian law also violated aspects of the Fourth Geneva Convention. He asked how could the question of Palestine be settled and how could peace be restored when the Israeli Government trampled on the legal and sovereign rights of Palestinian people, and flagrantly committed illegal actions.
The international community was becoming convinced that the Israeli Government was diminishing the peace process, and subjecting everyone to its colonial interests.
He said Israel also refused to follow up its commitments for redeployment within the Palestinian territories. Events had shown that the Israeli Government was not serious in its attempts to consolidate the peace process.
The Security Council must act in accordance with its full legal responsibilities. Israel's weapons of mass destruction were the most dangerous in the region. The United Arab Emirates reaffirmed the duty of all States to bring the Government of Israel to compliance with international resolutions. Governments, the international community and private corporations must exert the appropriate pressure on Israel to bring it to compliance with the rule of law.
KAMALA SINHA (India) said she deeply regretted that in recent months the Assembly had had to convene time and time again on the question of Palestine, to discuss various obstacles endangering the peace process. The report of the Secretary-General reinforced the stand taken by the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Committee on Palestine in April that the Assembly should demand the immediate and full cessation of construction of Jewish settlements, and all illegal measures and actions in Jerusalem. The ministers of the Non- Aligned Movement, while supporting the ongoing peace process, had expressed their concern at the Israeli Government's failure to abide by its commitments to implement the agreements on the agreed time schedule.
She said recent acts of terrorism and violence could be traced back to the impasse in the peace process. There was also the deterioration on the socio-economic conditions of the Palestinians due to frequent closures, economic sanctions and blockades. The present session must declare that in the advancement of peace, negotiations had to be conducted on the basis of goodwill and mutual trust, and that agreements and understandings should be honoured and implemented. It was important that parties should honour their commitments under the Oslo Accords which were based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of "land for peace".
ARIZAL EFFENDI (Indonesia) said Israel's disregard of relevant resolutions of the Security Council, as well as agreements already reached in the peace process, had led to the current volatile situation on the ground, and was a source of profound concern. Instead of reaping the benefits of the peace process, the Palestinian people had been overwhelmed in their daily lives by bitterness, despair and frustration as they bore the full impact of Israeli policies.
A climate of mistrust and suspicion had enveloped the territories, he said, and the expressions of optimism generated by the peace accords were rapidly dissipating. Israeli intransigence had become a major impediment to the peace process. The United Nations should again urge Israel to renounce its arbitrary policies and actions that impeded all efforts towards lasting peace.
His delegation reiterated its support for the recommendation calling for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to convene a conference to enforce the convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. That recommendation would send a clear and resounding message that the international community could not tolerate the injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people, and policies which scuttled the spirit of peace.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said the resolution of 15 July had brought a refusal by Israel to comply, as indicated by the continuance of Israeli construction at Jabal Abu Ghneim and the expansion of settlements in occupied territory. In addition, there were numerous violations of human rights by Israelis in those areas. Since the present Israeli Government came to power, the peace process had faced several serious setbacks, to such an extent that Israel had rejected the basic principle of land for peace.
The fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, including the establishment of a Palestinian State with Al-Quds as its capital, had to be taken into consideration. Rather than merely using words of condemnation, the international community should exert genuine pressure on Israel to comply with Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Switzerland, as the depository, should act quickly to convene the conference of the High Parties to the Geneva Convention.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that as a State party to the Fourth Geneva Convention, his country strongly supported the early convening of a conference. The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was a matter of grave concern. It was highly inadmissible that a single State should continue to defy the international community and violate international law and treaty obligations. Bangladesh condemned the Israeli policy of systematic violation of international law, as well as fundamental freedoms and basic human rights in the occupied territories. For the people under Israeli occupation, the crucial issues related to maintaining personal dignity, and restoration of rights and property, as well as achieving autonomy in decision-making. Israel must comply fully with the Geneva Convention and terminate completely its occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands without delay.
Since 1967, he went on, the Security Council in various resolutions had re-confirmed its recognition that the Fourth Geneva Convention applied to the territories, including Jerusalem, so there was no scope for unilateral refusal to recognize its applicability. Bangladesh disagreed with those who would wish to dissociate the Council and the Assembly from the peace process.
PAULETTE CORNETTE (Guyana) said even though the last two meetings of the tenth emergency special session appear to have been tangibly unproductive, the Assembly had convened again because the United Nations could not, by silence or complacency, condone illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This was especially the case now, since the peace process was being deliberately undermined. The will of the international community was clear; peace negotiations must be honoured by both parties directly involved -- Israel and the Palestinian Authority. During the current delicate stage, no one should attempt to reset the agenda and no party should decide that it would not honour its commitments nor free itself of the responsibility and accountability for implementing them. To focus on secondary issues while other crucial matters were neglected would be highly irresponsible.
She said the United Nations must consider every means at its disposal to ensure that a comprehensive, lasting and just peace was achieved. The draft resolutions offered such means. Greater participation by the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine in the work of the United Nations should be in keeping with those goals. The convening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention would be also desirable.
MAJID TAKHT-RAVANCHI (Iran) said according to the Secretary-General's report, the Israeli authorities continued to reject the resolution of the General Assembly calling for the cessation of illegal settlement activities.
Consequently, they continued to pursue the policy of changing the demographic, geographical and religious status of the occupied territories. In addition to the illegal settlement activities, numerous reports and documents of the United Nations provided ample description of the systematic inhumane practices of the Zionist regime, including arbitrary mass arrests, detention and shooting of Palestinians, sealing or demolition of homes and internal closure of the territories. Recent attempts to murder Palestinians in other countries and the failed attack against southern Lebanon last September exposed, once again, Israeli state terrorism.
Iran welcomed the convening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, in accordance with the recommendation in Assembly resolution ES-10/3, he said. The conference could contribute to the restoration of the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine. It was imperative for the Assembly to take the lead in condemning and rejecting the illegal Israeli actions and policies in the occupied territories with a view to bringing such unlawful practices to an immediate end. At a time when the Security Council had failed to fulfil its responsibility by preventing the blatant and persistent violation of international law by Israel, it was time for the emergency session of the General Assembly to consider further measures.
JEAN-LOUIS WOLZFELD (Luxembourg), speaking for the European Union, and the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Cyprus and Iceland, said those countries regretted that the Assembly had to meet again to examine the question. The Union deplored Israel's failure to respond to appeals by the Assembly and the international community to cease construction work in Jabal Abu Ghneim/Har Homa and, in general, to suspend the development of settlements in the Occupied Territories, including Jerusalem.
Those activities were contrary to the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, but convening a conference on the implementation of the Convention in the immediate future would, in the present circumstances, risk giving rise to additional complications unless it were carefully planned. The European Union therefore suggested to the depository State (Switzerland) that the possibilities should be explored of convening a meeting of experts before a conference of the High Contracting Parties was convened. The meeting of experts could also examine the broader implications of such a conference.
He said the resumption of negotiations by Israeli and Palestinian authorities to break the current deadlock in the peace process was welcome. Hopefully, the parties would also agree to avoid any unilateral action which could hamper those negotiations or even cause them to fail. The Union was deeply attached to the current peace efforts as the only way to establish a lasting peace and security in the region. It intended to support the adoption of an agreement on a code of conduct by Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the implementation of confidence-building measures.
JULIO LONDONO PAREDES (Colombia) said it had been necessary for the third time this year to convene an emergency session of the General Assembly due to the non-compliance of Israel to Assembly resolutions. It was the international community's obligation and the Assembly's duty to ensure Israel's compliance with relevant resolutions. It was up to the Assembly to strive for the cause of peace in the Middle East, especially since the Security Council had failed to act. Israel's non-compliance was a departure from the Oslo Agreement. It was attempting to influence the negotiations on permanent status for the Palestinians.
He said he addressed a note to Switzerland conveying the support of the Non-Aligned Movement to the convening of the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention. A preliminary meeting of experts could guarantee that the results of the conference would have a positive impact on the peace process. Direct talks were the best way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and achieve peace. Colombia believed that Palestinians, as well as Israelis, had the right to live in peace and to seek the well-being of the people.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said that in the light of recent alarming developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the setbacks in the peace process, Malaysia reiterated its support for the early convening of a conference by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention. Continued Israeli expansion of settlements and confiscation of Palestinian lands, including Jerusalem, threatened the peace process. Security Council resolutions 446 and 465 had reaffirmed that the policy of building Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was illegal. As reflected in General Assembly resolutions ES-10/2 and ES-10/3, the international community overwhelmingly rejected that policy. Israel was in violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Although it was up to the Israeli Government to determine its own policies, Malaysia called on it to cease its construction and settlement policies, called for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace. It supported the Palestinians in their struggle for rights. Israel must honour the commitments made in the Arafat-Rabin accord. Israel should realize that cooperation with the Palestinians would improve its relationship with the Palestinians and the entire international Muslim community. The draft resolution before the Assembly today contained measures that must be taken by the Israeli Government to re-establish trust between the parties involved. It called for implementation of the agreements reached between the PLO and Israel. It also called for the convening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which Malaysia supported unreservedly. As a co-sponsor, Malaysia called on all Member States for their support to ensure passage of the draft by consensus.
VOLODYMR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine) said that recent alarming developments in the Middle East peace process had forced the Assembly to reconvene again to address the issue. The question of Jerusalem, a holy city for three major religions, was particularly sensitive. Within the context of the peace process, the parties had agreed to negotiate its status. Negotiations could not entail unilateral decisions; neither could they entail decisions that prejudged the outcome of the discussions; nor could they foresee the decisions that altered the status quo. Unilateral decisions could lead to a deep crisis of confidence which might further erode the peace process. Should that occur, subsequent mistrust among the parties might destroy the delicate and fragile peace structure in the Middle East.
He said Ukraine strongly condemned all violent practices and terrorist acts. It was deeply convinced that peace in the region, including the overall settlement of the Palestinian problem, could be achieved only through constructive and continuous dialogue, and on the basis of mutual respect, patience and tolerance. It was extremely important for both sides to demonstrate goodwill, restraint, prudence and a level-headed approach in the current circumstances. Apart from political efforts, the United Nations should also give priority to economic development of the Palestinian territories. The restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people was the key to achieving genuine peace and stability in the region.