Question of Palestine home
12 December 2000
th plenary meeting
Tuesday, 12 December 2000, 10 a.m.
The meeting was called to order at 10 a.m.
Reports of the Sixth Committee
: The General Assembly will now consider the reports of the Sixth Committee on agenda items 154 to 165, 171, 172 and 184.
Agenda item 164
Measures to eliminate international terrorism
Report of the Sixth Committee
: The General Assembly will now take a decision on the draft resolution recommended by the Sixth Committee in paragraph 11 of its report. A recorded vote has been requested.
A recorded vote was taken.
Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic.
The draft resolution was adopted by 151 votes to none, with 2 abstentions (resolution 55/158).
[Subsequently the delegations of Botswana and Mozambique informed the Secretariat that they had intended to vote in favour.]
I shall now call on those representatives who wish to speak in explanation of vote.
spoke in Arabic
): I have asked for the floor to explain my delegation’s vote on the resolution just adopted by the General Assembly on measures to eliminate international terrorism. It is an honour for me to inform the Assembly that all the Arab delegations have endorsed this statement.
All the Arab States condemn terrorism in all its aspects and forms, whether committed by individuals, groups or States. All the Arab delegations, therefore, cooperated in a positive and serious manner with the coordinator of the resolution that has been adopted and with other delegations, demonstrating great flexibility in reaching a balanced resolution.
The Arab delegations reaffirm their understanding of the second preambular paragraph of the resolution, which refers to all relevant General Assembly resolutions on measures to eliminate international terrorism, including resolution 46/51 of 1991, paragraph 15 of which states
that the General Assembly
“Considers that nothing in the present resolution could in any way prejudice the right to self-determination, freedom and independence, as derived from the Charter of the United Nations, of peoples forcibly deprived of that right referred to in the Declaration of Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination, or the right of these peoples to struggle legitimately to this end and to seek and receive support in accordance with the principles of the Charter, the above-mentioned Declaration and the relevant General Assembly resolutions”.
In this context, the Arab delegations would like to reiterate that what has been taking place in the occupied Arab territories, especially in recent weeks — the missile attacks, bombings and other military actions by land, air and sea by the occupying Israeli forces against the unarmed people of Palestine — is the embodiment of terrorism in all its aspects. In this context, the Arab delegations reiterate the right of the Arab peoples under the yoke of occupation to use all legitimate means to achieve their independence and self-determination, including armed struggle.
spoke in Arabic
The resolution repeats the rights of countries to free themselves from hegemony and occupation and their right to self-determination, as well as the legitimate struggle of countries to be liberated from colonialist and racist regimes. This should, of course, apply to all legitimate resistance activities of the Palestinian people against Israel.
We have heard the last speaker in explanation of vote after the vote.
I shall now call on those representatives who wish speak in exercise of the right of reply.
May I remind members that statements in the exercise of the right of reply are limited to 10 minutes for the first intervention and to five minutes for the second intervention and should be made by delegations from their seats.
(Israel): My delegation totally rejects the baseless allegations made by the representative of Egypt on behalf of some other States.
Egypt graciously hosted the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, at which an Israeli-Palestinian agreement was reached on ending the violence — an agreement which are working hard to implement. The summit recognized that neither side in this conflict has a monopoly on the status of victim and that both sides must act to bring about an end to the violence. Indeed, President Mubarak of Egypt spoke there of the need for both sides to return to the peace process in order to end the cycle of violence.
In this light, the words of the representative of Egypt, which seek to misrepresent Israel and terrorism, seems at the very best unreflective of Egypt’s pronounced and greatly appreciated role as a supporter and facilitator of the Middle East peace process. Such a political manipulation of the resolutions of the United Nations serves only to undermine this Organization, which enjoys the respect of all parties in the region.
Certain States, while engaging in political accusations against Israel, continue to maintain that an act of terrorism — a car bomb in a crowded marketplace, for instance — is not to be regarded as terrorism if it is claimed to be in the cause of national liberation. Such a position, of course, ignores international law and repeated United Nations resolution, which clearly maintain that terrorism, whatever its form or motivation, is unjustified.
Terrorism is defined by what one does, not by what one does it for. Indeed, defending the bombing of innocents in the name of freedom fighting is simply incomprehensible. The perverse logic of these States would have us believe that those who target crowded buses or marketplaces are not terrorists, while those who seek to stop them are. In so doing, these States do a grave injustice to legitimate liberation movements.
I did not intend to engage in a polemic debate here. However, I was compelled to respond to the harsh statement made by the representative of Egypt.
spoke in Arabic
): I have asked to speak in exercise of the right of reply to respond to the Israeli representative’s accusation that Egypt and the Arab countries have submitted false claims on the events in the occupied Arab territories. However, we wish to confirm that the accusations we have spoken of have been documented and recorded and have been the subject of General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, as well as those of other international organizations and organs.
The Israeli representative forced the peace process — in which Egypt cherishes its central role — onto the question we are considering: combating terrorism. This has nothing to do with the subject matter and removes the question of terrorism from its appropriate perspective.
(spoke in Arabic)
: My delegation asked for the floor to reply to the allegations made by the representative of the Israeli occupation a little while ago. Our delegation fully supports the statement made by the representative of Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group and also the reply and the explanations made by Egypt just now.
We would like to add that the claims of the representative of the Israeli occupation in his reply — that he knows international law — are baseless. Israel’s claims regarding peace are just lies and have been exposed as such during the recent bloody days on which hundreds of martyrs — including children, women, the elderly and unarmed young people — have been deliberately killed.
Is this the international law of which the Israeli representative speaks, and claims that he understands? I do not think so, because this is not international law. International law does not allow the occupation of the land of others by force, nor the perpetration of the most heinous crimes against people under occupation. International law does not allow the innumerable atrocities and massacres that have been perpetrated by Israel in the occupied Arab territories since 1967 — atrocities and massacres that are documented in United Nations reports, General Assembly resolutions and Security Council resolutions. These are not allegations. Rather, the reports of the Secretariat provide proof of the crimes that have been committed by Israel.
Israel is the country that must be in the
Guinness Book of World Records
in this regard. Twenty-five Security Council resolutions have mentioned that Israel is the occupying Power, and yet the representative of Israel is still in this room. He should not be here at the United Nations. International law and the Charter of the United Nations require that every country that is a Member of the United Nations be peace-loving. This condition is not respected by Israel and has not been applied to Israel, which, since its inception via a Security Council resolution, has been occupying by force the land and territories of others, namely, the territories of Lebanon, Syria and Palestine.
Were we to apply international law, then the highest penalties should be imposed on Israel to force it to respect international legitimacy and to implement relevant Security Council resolutions, especially resolutions
. Among other things, Israel should immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw from all the occupied Arab territories to the lines of 4 June 1967. In addition, the establishment of settlements and the arming of settlers to kill the Arabs who own the land, whose land has been occupied by force, is a war crime and a flagrant violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions.
The international community should act promptly to intervene to protect unarmed Palestinians who are being killed daily by planes, missiles and rockets and are being subjected to genocide. There are daily assassinations and sniper attacks, and all sorts of weapons are being used to kill people. Confronted by this, the international community should establish a criminal court to bring the Israeli war criminals to justice and should send international troops to protect the Palestinian people.
The staff of Mrs. Mary Robinson — the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who was asked to investigate the crimes committed by Israel — have been subjected to aggression by Israeli settlers. There have been attempts to kill her and to prevent her from doing her job.
The international community knows full well that Israel is the one that lies and commits crimes and that the Arab people, who are subjected every day to genocide, are the ones who need protection and who need the international community to apply international law.
(spoke in Arabic)
: I would not have asked for the floor were it not for the allegations made by the representative of Israel — allegations that, as usual, distort the facts. This is why the Lebanese delegation would like to express its support for the statement made by the representative of Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group.
Lebanon also wants to confirm the explanation of vote it delivered in the Committee after voting on the draft resolution. In it Lebanon emphasized that it fully condemns all acts of terrorism that are part of organized violence. Such acts include killings, assassinations, the taking of hostages, bombings, the hijacking of planes and other acts against civilians.
The appeal made to the international community by this resolution to combat terrorism in accordance with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations does not conform with the policy of occupation and killing followed by Israel. This appeal supports the position of Lebanon, which calls for making a distinction between State terrorism practised by Israel against civilians and resistance to the forces of occupation, which is protected by international laws and conventions.
I would like to remind the representative of Israel, just as an example, that in April 1996 the Israeli occupation forces intentionally bombed a United Nations camp where more than 106 people were seeking protection, including children, the elderly and women. Israel killed these people on purpose. This has been documented and confirmed by a representative of the Secretary-General after an investigation he conducted at the time.
We would also like to remind the Israelis of the bombing of the infrastructure of Lebanon at the beginning of this year. This bombing coincided with threats from more than one Israeli official, such as David Levy, the Foreign Minister, who threatened to burn the Lebanese territories and who threatened the Government, and the Israeli Chief of Staff, Saul Mofaz, who threatened to attack civilians if the Lebanese resistance continued its work against the occupation forces. Israeli aggression and threats against Lebanon and its civilians and its aggression against Palestinians and intentional killings of children — now having exceeded 300 people — expose the true uncivilized character of the Israeli policy of occupation and of attacking civilians. This is the real terrorism.
This policy is regrettable, since Israel is a Member of the United Nations and thus should be committed to respecting the United Nations Charter in its laws and in its actions. However, Israel speaks about international law while it allows the killing of civilians and violates the norms of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as all basic ethical and moral laws. It is true that, as the representative of Israel said, terrorism is defined by what one does and not by what one does it for.
(Israel): I deeply regret the tenor of the intervention made by the Syrian representative, which is inappropriate in this Assembly. Although we truly wish to achieve a just, comprehensive and durable peace with our neighbours to the north, we have no delusions regarding the true character of the Syrian Government.
I, like my Syrian colleague, could also use undiplomatic language. I could remind the members of the Assembly that Syria is a dictatorship; Syria is a police State; Syria is a military occupier of almost half of the territory of a neighbouring State; Syria is the exploiter of this neighbouring State’s economy and resources; Syria is a cultivator and trafficker of narcotics; Syria is a State that sponsors terrorism; Syria harbours in its capital terrorist organizations and activity that actively and violently oppose the peace process in our region. I could say that Syria brutally murders entire neighbourhoods — tens of thousands of its own citizens — in order to silence political dissent. However, I choose not to do so.
Yet, any statement voiced by the delegation of Syria should be considered in the light of these facts, which, although known by all, are diplomatically left unmentioned. It would suffice to say, however, that any Syrian representative’s interpretation of the meaning of terrorism is inherently a contradiction of the term. As a matter of fact, when a regime such as that in Syria denigrates any other State for not complying with its view, I would interpret that as a compliment. I would therefore like to thank the representative of Syria for his comments because, coming from him, this unrestrained attack reassures me that Israel is indeed a nation that respects peace, justice and human dignity.
With regard to the statement made by the representative of Lebanon, I am bewildered. In the last six months, a radical change has occurred on the Israel-Lebanon border. Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon, fulfilling its responsibilities under
Security Council resolution 425 (1978)
. The Secretary-General confirmed this complete withdrawal in his report to the Security Council, and the Council endorsed this report and also adopted a resolution to this effect.
Why then does the Lebanese representative continue to express his anger and frustration over the occupation of his country and the violation of its sovereignty as if nothing has happened? Could it be that these Lebanese sentiments have very little to do with Israel and its actions? Israel has never harboured any aspirations towards Lebanese territory or resources and has always taken action with the sole purpose of maintaining security along its northern border and providing for its own self-defence. Perhaps these Lebanese feelings could be explained by the fact that there is another State neighbouring Lebanon that occupies its soil and violates its sovereignty.
(Syrian Arab Republic) (
spoke in Arabic
): Our delegation abstained from the vote on the resolution just adopted. We abstained because we condemn terrorism in all its manifestations and forms and because this resolution does not contain a clear distinction between the kind of terrorism that we condemn as a crime and the right of people to resist foreign occupation in accordance with international law, international legitimacy and the United Nations Charter.
As for the crimes committed by Israel in the occupied Arab territories, they are examples of international terrorism. The lies of the representative of the Israeli occupation are totally baseless. There is a saying: lie, lie, lie — maybe it works.
Syria entered Lebanon by request of the Lebanese Government in order to protect Lebanese civilians from Israeli attacks and to apply the resolutions of the Taif Agreement regarding security in Lebanon. This is an internal matter between Syria and Lebanon, and there are brotherly treaties between them, implemented in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international legitimacy. This has nothing to do with the Israeli occupation of Arab territories and the massacres perpetrated by Israel against the Arab people under its occupation.
The representative of the Israeli occupation has told lies about Syria, accusations that are not documented or true. We fully reject them. It shows that they have no arguments to submit. They talk only to cover up their own daily crimes in the occupied territories. The United Nations resolutions prove their crimes; the Charter of the United Nations is clear; international law is clear. Israel is the one that occupies Arab territories, and the United Nations resolutions should be applied to force Israel to withdraw from these territories.
spoke in Arabic
): We truly regret the interventions of the Israeli representative, who attacks States. We were under the impression that we were discussing the question of terrorism, and we gave examples of Israeli terrorism against civilians.
We have cited examples of Israeli terrorism over the 22 years of its occupation of Lebanon’s territory and its murder and maiming of Lebanese civilians and children with a variety of prohibited and unprohibited weapons. We had thought that this was the question under consideration, but when we gave our supporting arguments, the representative of Israel chose to discuss another issue, since he had no answer to our rightful accusations.
First, I would remind him that his country occupied Lebanon for 22 years, in contravention of Security Council resolution 425 (1978), which Israel flouted all that time. Secondly, we would ask what the Israelis are doing in the Sheba’a farmlands, which they continue to occupy and where they have increased their military presence. Does this military escalation in an occupied territory demonstrate a desire for peace or for war? Finally, we would remind the representative of Israel that the relationship between Lebanon and Syria is that of brothers. There is a cooperation and coordination agreement between the two countries; it is not a relation based on occupation, as the representative of Israel has depicted it.
Here, we would inquire about the fate of the 19 Lebanese civilian hostages kidnapped by the Israeli forces from their homes and currently held as hostages in Israeli prisons, a fact acknowledged by the Israeli Supreme Court. Is this not terrorism?
: The General Assembly has thus concluded this stage of its consideration of agenda item 164.
The meeting rose at 12 noon.