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I should be grateful if the present letter and the attached assessment could be circulated as a document of the Security Council.
Assessment of the work of the Security Council
Ireland (October 2001)
1. During the Presidency of Ireland in October, the Security Council held a total of 22 meetings, of which all but six were public, while Council members met on 19 occasions for informal consultations and twice under the Arria formula. The Security Council adopted two resolutions and six Presidential statements. The President was authorized on 15 occasions to make statements to the press on behalf of Council members.
Situation in the Middle East (including the Question of Palestine)
52. During informal consultations on 23 October, the President of the Security Council drew to the attention of the members of the Council a joint written request from the Permanent Representatives of Mali and of Qatar for “the immediate convening of a meeting of the Security Council in order to take the necessary action to ensure the full and immediate withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from Palestinian areas it has reoccupied recently” as well as a separate written request from the Permanent Observer of Palestine containing the same request. The President also reported on a visit that he had received from the Permanent Observer of Palestine, during which the latter had requested that a meeting of the Security Council be convened for the purpose of adopting a resolution on the situation in the Middle East.
53. During their discussion of the matter, the members of the Security Council stressed the importance of maintaining the unity of the Council. Some members recalled the rapidity with which the Council had reacted to the events of 11 September and advocated that the Council also take action on the current situation in the Middle East. Other members expressed caution, saying that the efforts that were being made on the ground to secure an Israeli withdrawal should be allowed a chance to succeed. The President of the Council noted that there was a preponderant view among the members that the Council should speak on the issue and that it should do so with one voice. He undertook to engage in bilateral consultations with the members and to convene informal consultations again in 48 hours, at which stage the members would be in a position to review the situation.
54. At informal consultations held on 25 October, the President of the Council reported on the inclusive contacts that he had undertaken during the intervening two days, including with the Secretary-General. He stated that there was a general view among members that the Council should react to the already very serious situation on the ground. The members of the Council heard a briefing from the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, on developments in the area, and, in particular, on a statement that had been made earlier in the day in Gaza by the envoys of the European Union, the Russian Federation, the Consul-General of the United States of America and the United Nations Special Coordinator (the so-called “Quartet”). Their statement noted commitments made by President Arafat to control violence and combat terrorism, urged him to make a full and concerted effort to ensure compliance with the ceasefire and called on Israel to withdraw from Area A, halt extrajudicial killings, fully respect the ceasefire, ease the closures and take steps for the immediate implementation of the Mitchell report and the Tenet plan, leading to a resumption of the political process.
55. Following an exchange of views among members, the President of the Council proposed that he be authorized to make a statement to the press which, inter alia, would include an expression of support for the statement of the four envoys and would also support calls made in capitals for immediate withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Area A. This proposal was agreed to by Council members. Some of the members stated that their agreeing to a press statement by the Council President should not be regarded as a substitute for formal Security Council action, to which subject they would return at a later stage. The 25 October statement of the Council President to the press and the accompanying statement of the “Quartet” are reproduced below (see appendix).
56. In further informal consultations on 29 October, the President of the Council drew attention to a letter of 26 October addressed to him by the Permanent Representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on behalf of the Group of Arab States and by the members of the League of Arab States. The letter recalled the earlier request that the Security Council meet and take action that would ensure Israel’s immediate withdrawal from Palestinian-controlled territories. The Under-Secretary-General again briefed the members of the Council on the situation on the ground and, in particular, on the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Bethlehem and Beit Jala.
57. In informal consultations on 30 October, the President of the Council reported on the extensive consultations that he had conducted over the previous 24 hours, and, in particular, on a meeting with the Chargé d’affaires of Bangladesh in the latter’s capacity as coordinator of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. The coordinator had proposed elements for a short and focused resolution. On the basis of his bilateral consultations, and following a discussion among the members during which most expressed support for formal Security Council action and also stressed the importance of unity, the President of the Council concluded that, while no form of action was excluded, a presidential statement at that point in time offered the best opportunity of meeting the concerns expressed by members, while maintaining the unity of the Council.
58. In informal consultations on 31 October, the President of the Council told the members that he would be available in the course of the day to delegations that might wish to offer views on the form and content of any formal action by the Security Council concerning the Middle East. Subsequently, the views expressed to him bilaterally by some delegations led the President to conclude that it was not possible for the moment to achieve agreement on the form that such action might take and he contacted members to inform them accordingly.
Statements to the press by the President of the Security Council
25 October 2001
Members of the Security Council met today to discuss the situation in the Middle East.
Members were deeply concerned by the escalation in violence and deplored the loss of life on both sides.
Members supported statements from capitals calling for immediate withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Area A.
Members fully supported the important diplomatic initiatives to de-escalate the situation on the ground.
Members strongly supported all the elements contained in the statement issued by representatives in the region of the European Union, the United States of America, the Russian Federation and the Special Coordinator of the United Nations Secretary-General.
Members welcomed the resumption tomorrow of tripartite security meetings.
Members agreed that the Security Council should speak with one voice on this matter.
It was agreed to keep the situation under close review in the light of further developments, and to revert to it once again in the coming days.
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We (Special Envoy of the European Union, Miguel Moratinos, United States Consul-General, Ron Schlicher, Russian Special Envoy, Andrey Vdovin, and United Nations Special Coordinator, Terje Roed-Larsen) met with Chairman Arafat, together with the diplomatic corps, to review the current, dangerous situation.
We discussed the importance of both sides fully complying with the ceasefire announced on 26 September 2001.
We acknowledged that prior to 17 October 2001 the Palestinian Authority had begun to take steps to ensure the strict implementation of the ceasefire. These steps had been undermined by the assassination of Israeli Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi, an act for which the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine took credit, and after which they threatened further actions, and for which they must be held accountable.
We note Chairman Arafat’s statement to the diplomatic corps in which he detailed the steps he has taken to control violence and combat terrorism, even under extremely difficult circumstances, including the high loss of civilian life in the multiple incursions into Area A. We welcomed the commitment made by Chairman Arafat to take additional specific and concrete steps to control violence and to ensure full implementation of the Palestinian Authority’s ceasefire orders. We urged him to make a concerted effort to ensure full and strict compliance with the Palestinian Authority’s ceasefire orders, including through arresting those who defy his orders and taking further steps against terrorist organizations. We stressed that the international community recognizes the Palestinian Authority as the only entity responsible for security in the Palestinian Territory.
We told Chairman Arafat of our determination to continue working closely with him to ensure that the ceasefire was fully respected as we would do with the Government of Israel.
We have called on Israel to: (1) immediately withdraw from Area A; (2) halt extrajudicial killings; (3) ensure greater restraint by the Israel Defence Forces; (4) fully respect the ceasefire; (5) move swiftly to ease the closures, according to the Peres-Arafat understanding of 26 September; (6) to take steps for the immediate implementation of the Mitchell report and Tenet plan, which will lead to a resumption of the political process in order to address the fundamental issues between the two parties.
We stressed the importance of bringing a rapid end to the current crisis so that hope could be restored to the Palestinian and Israeli people.
We stressed that the international community stood ready to undertake vigorous efforts to restore the Palestinian economy following the devastating losses caused by the crisis and the closures.