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This assessment has been prepared under my own responsibility following consultations with members of the Council, pursuant to the note by the President of the Security Council dated 12 June 1997 (S/1997/451), and should not be considered as representing the views of the Council.
I should be grateful if the present letter and the attached assessment could be circulated as a document of the Security Council.
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
On 1 April the Secretary-General briefed the Council on the situation in the Middle East and called on both Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Chairman Yasser Arafat to exercise responsible leadership. In the afternoon, the Council met in consultations to discuss a request from the Arab Group to hold an urgent public meeting.
On 2 April the Council held two private meetings on the Middle East with the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine.
During the luncheon the same day the Secretary-General shared with members of the Council his assessment of the Arab summit in Beirut and expressed his concern about the situation in the Middle East, particularly along the Blue Line.
The Security Council held a public meeting on the Middle East on 3 April followed by consultations.
On 4 April members of the Council heard a briefing from the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations on the incident in which a number of United Nations military observers were assaulted by Hezbollah in the area of the Blue Line.
Also on 4 April the Council resumed its public meeting on the Middle East. The Secretary-General addressed Council members. The Council unanimously adopted resolution 1403 (2002), in which it demanded the implementation of resolution 1402 (2002) without delay and welcomed the efforts of the Quartet envoys and the mission to the region of the United States Secretary of State.
On 6 April the President of the Council met with the Permanent Representative of Tunisia as Chairman of the Arab Group, together with the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Permanent Observer of Palestine, who submitted a request for the convening of a public meeting on the Middle East. Following this request of the Arab Group, the Council met on 7 April in consultations, during which some members insisted on pressing their request for a public meeting, while others emphasized the necessity for the Council to meet privately and separately with Israeli and Palestinian representatives.
On 8 April the Council held private meetings with the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine. The same day during the consultations the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefed the Council members on developments in the Middle East. In the afternoon the Council held a public meeting on the issue.
The Council resumed the public meeting on the Middle East on 9 April. In the afternoon during consultations of the whole the Council discussed a draft resolution introduced by the Syrian Arab Republic on behalf of the Arab Group and the States members of the Non-Aligned Movement.
On 10 April the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefed the Council on the situation on the ground in the Middle East and on the Secretary-General’s participation in the meeting of the Quartet in Madrid. The same day after consultations the Council adopted at a formal meeting a presidential statement (S/PRST/2002/9) expressing its support for the joint statement on the Middle East issued at Madrid by the Quartet.
On 12 April the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefed the Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Secretary-General’s observations on an international force which might be deployed in the Middle East, stressing that it should be a multinational and not a United Nations force.
On 18 April the Secretary-General informed the Council of his views on the possible deployment of a multinational force in the area of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He emphasized that such a force should be authorized by a Security Council resolution under Chapter VII. Members of the Council expressed their deep concern over the situation in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. In the afternoon the Council held a public meeting on the Middle East.
On 19 April after consultations the Council resumed the public meeting. Later that day, following intensive consultations on a draft resolution, the Council met again in a public meeting and unanimously adopted resolution 1405 (2002), in which it emphasized the urgency of access of humanitarian organizations to the Palestinian civilian population and welcomed the initiative of the Secretary-General to develop accurate information on recent events in the Jenin refugee camp through a fact-finding team.
During consultations of the whole on 23 April members of the Council expressed their full support for the implementation of resolution 1405 (2002) and their hope that Israel would cooperate fully with the Secretary-General and the fact-finding team. Council members also expressed serious concern for the safety of Chairman Arafat and emphasized that the siege of the Palestinian Authority compound must be lifted.
During consultations on 24 April the Council members confirmed to the Secretary-General their support for his efforts to implement resolution 1405 (2002). The Syrian Arab Republic circulated a draft resolution relating to the matter. Members of the Council agreed to put off a vote on the draft pending the Secretariat’s meeting with the Israeli delegation.
On 25 April the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefed the Council on the talks with the Israeli delegation concerning the fact-finding team. Members of the Council expressed the hope that various political efforts under way would bring positive changes on the ground, including a non-violent resolution of the situation around the Palestinian Authority compound in Ramallah and the earliest arrival of a fact-finding mission in the region.
On 26 April the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations briefed the Council about the Secretary-General’s proposal to dispatch a multinational force to the area of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
During the consultations on 28 April the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefed the Council on developments with regard to the fact-finding team. The Council members remained firm in their insistence on the full implementation of resolution 1405 (2002) and were concerned by the delay in the arrival of the fact-finding team. They pointed out that they were expecting a positive report on the decision of the Israeli Cabinet on the team the following day. The Council members supported the Secretary-General’s letters sent on 27 April to the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine containing clarifications about the team.
On 29 April the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs informed the Council that the Israeli Cabinet would take a decision on the fact-finding team on 30 April because on 29 April there was no meeting of the Cabinet. Meanwhile in Geneva the team continued to get ready for the implementation of its mandate. Some members of the Council reported on the intensive diplomatic efforts under way to find a solution to the siege of the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
On 30 April the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs informed the Council that the Israeli Cabinet refused to accept the fact-finding team in Jenin until such time as the necessary conditions would be met. Under the circumstances, the Secretary-General intended to disband the team. On behalf of the Arab Group, the Syrian Arab Republic circulated a revised draft resolution in provisional form, but no action was taken.