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27 November 2013
Letter dated 26 November 2013 from the Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council
Australia held the presidency of the Security Council for the month of September 2013. An assessment covering the work of the Council has been prepared under my supervision and in consultation with the other members of the Council (see annex).
I should be grateful if this letter and its annex could be circulated as a document of the Security Council.
Annex to the letter dated 26 November 2013 from the Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council
Assessment of the work of the Security Council during the presidency of Australia (September 2013)
Under the presidency of Australia in September 2013, the Security Council held a total of 22 meetings, of which 11 were private and 11 were public. The Council also adopted three resolutions and issued six statements to the press during September.
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, provided the monthly briefing on the Middle East to the Council on 17 September. He noted that the resumption of direct negotiations in the Middle East peace process on 29 July had been widely welcomed. The Secretary-General had been encouraged by the seriousness with which both the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, had approached the talks, as the only viable path by which a two-State solution may still be achieved.
The Special Coordinator noted that the two sides had been engaged in several rounds of talks and encouraged both sides to accelerate and intensify discussions. Stability in the West Bank would be critical as talks continued. He deplored the loss of life from security incidents in the Jenin and Qalandiya refugee camps on 20 and 26 August respectively, including the death of an employee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. He expressed concern at settlement activity in the West Bank and said the United Nations was monitoring tensions in the Old City of Jerusalem with increased concern.
The Special Coordinator said the calm in Gaza had been mostly sustained, despite attempts to fire rockets from Gaza towards Israel. He reported that he had met the Egyptian leadership in Cairo earlier in September, and condemned the attacks in Rafah on 11 and 16 September in which Egyptian security personnel had been killed. He said the United Nations was paying particularly close attention to the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and called for the easing of restrictions and enhanced access into Gaza through legal crossings, taking into account legitimate security concerns and previous agreements. On Lebanon, he highlighted the Secretary-General’s condemnation of recent bombing incidents, including the attack in Tripoli on 23 August.
During the consultations which followed the Special Coordinator’s briefing, many Council members commended the parties to the Middle East peace process for the leadership they had shown in returning to negotiations. Many Council members also acknowledged the need for improvements to the situation on the ground, including in relation to settlement activity in the West Bank and restrictions on Gaza as well as the legitimate security interests of relevant parties. Many Council members also highlighted the continued fragility in Lebanon as a result of the Syrian civil war, and the large number of Syrian refugees that had crossed into Lebanon.