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        General Assembly
26 November 2002

Original: English

Fifty-seventh session
Official Records

Special Political and Decolonization Committee
(Fourth Committee)

Summary record of the 15th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 24 October 2002, at 3 p.m.

Chairman: Mr. Maitland ............................................ (South Africa)


Agenda item 78: Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects (continued)

The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.

Agenda item 78: Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects (continued)

1. Mr. Fallouh (Syrian Arab Republic) said that United Nations peacekeeping endeavours represented an important tool for maintaining international peace and security, in addition to reducing tensions and resolving disputes. Success had been achieved in Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He affirmed that peacekeeping operations should be limited in time and should lead to the application of international resolutions. Such operations should comply with the principles of the United Nations Charter, which entailed obtaining the consent of the parties, using force only in self-defence, neutrality and respect for national sovereignty.

2. The United Nations had begun its peacekeeping operations in the Middle East approximately half a century earlier. It was regrettable that peace in the Middle East was still far off, since Israel was continuing its occupation of Arab lands, its expansionist, settlement and imperialist policies, and its repression of Arab human rights in the occupied territories.

3. The Syrian Arab Republic lauded the sacrifices made by peacekeeping commanders and troops to preserve peace in the Middle East. It welcomed the positive relations existing between Syrian officials and those of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine (UNTSO) and the United Nations Disengagement Observation Force (UNDOF), and between the Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

4. His delegation wished to raise the question of procurement at the United Nations in general, and in respect of peacekeeping operations in particular. Despite the progress made, it still seemed that most procurement was made from developed countries; his delegation affirmed the need to increase procurement from developing countries. It also believed that the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1353 (2001) and the note by the President of the Security Council (S/2002/56) of 14 January 2002 would contribute to reinforcing cooperation between the Council, the Secretariat and the troop-contributing countries in terms of planning, preparing and organizing missions.


41. Mr. Mekel (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that it was regrettable that the representatives of Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic had taken advantage of a debate on peacekeeping operations to indulge in unsubstantiated attacks against Israel. The situation in the Middle East and in southern Lebanon proved that peacekeeping operations could succeed only if Governments lived up to their commitments. He recalled that Israel had withdrawn from southern Lebanon in May 2000, in compliance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978). With regard to the Shebaa Farms, he noted that the position of the United Nations was that the Shebaa Farms were not on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line. The Government of Lebanon must fulfil its obligations, move its armed forces up to the Blue Line and prevent Hezbollah terrorist activities across the Blue Line which were an ongoing threat to international peace and security. It was, of course, hampered in its freedom of action by the presence of 30,000 Syrian troops; the Syrian Arab Republic, which was the major power broker in the area should likewise respect relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1373 (2001) on international terrorism. If the Governments of Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic were truly interested in international peace and security they should avoid making baseless allegations and comply with the relevant United Nations resolutions.

42. Mr. Assaf (Lebanon), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he first wished to express appreciation for the efforts of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in particular for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), countries which had contributed troops to that operation and the 244 peacekeepers who had lost their lives during that mission. He was, however, astonished that the representative of Israel had taken the floor in exercise of the right of reply to refer to alleged statements made by him during the Committee’s discussions. He was sure that the official records of the Committee would confirm that he had said nothing to justify such a right of reply.

43. To respond to the Israeli delegation’s wild accusations, he wished to point out that it was as a result of Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon that peacekeepers had been sent to Lebanon, and as a result of the long Lebanese resistance that Israel had in 2000 been forced to withdraw, after a 22-year occupation; Israel’s vaunted compliance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978) did not obviate the fact that it was still flouting resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973); and that since 2000, there had been 17 repeated air, land and sea violations by Israel of Lebanese territory, in which United Nations facilities had been damaged and hundreds of Lebanese had died.

44. Mr. Fallouh (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, underscored his country’s recognized role in the formulation and adoption of Security Council resolutions, especially resolution 1373 (2001) on anti-terrorism measures, as against Israel’s flouting of 29 Security Council resolutions calling for its withdrawal from occupied Territories, and its violation of innumerable others calling for an end to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. Before Israel, foreign occupation had been unknown in the Middle East. It was a State founded on terrorism and its history had been marked by bloody massacres, which were still continuing even as dozens of Palestinians were killed daily.

45. The Syrian Arab Republic’s presence in Lebanon had begun in response to an official request from the Lebanese Government for it to intervene to safeguard Lebanon’s interests and to guarantee its territorial independence. That intervention had made it possible to end the Lebanese civil war. Despite Israel’s claim, there was not a single Government in the world that did not recognize the current Government of Lebanon. What Israel was really objecting to were the close ties of blood and good neighbourliness among Arab countries. As the former occupying power in southern Lebanon for 22 years, Israel was not entitled to interfere in Lebanese internal affairs.

46. Mr. Mekel (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that he took the Lebanese representative’s reference to the Israeli presence in Lebanon for 22 years as an acknowledgement that Israel had, indeed, left the country two years earlier, in 2000, despite his attempts to obscure that fact. Lebanon itself was acting in shocking disregard of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001): by giving support to the Hezbollah terrorist movement, the main cause of continuing instability in southern Lebanon and a prolific source of attacks in several countries; by funding a Lebanese-Palestinian terrorist group, whose leader was in hiding in a southern Lebanese camp; and most disquietingly, on the evidence of growing reports, by providing a safe haven for al-Qua`idah operatives led by the terrorist responsible for the 1999 plots against United States and Israeli targets in Jordan, having earlier allowed al-Qua`idah to establish a broad infrastructure near Sidon.

47. As for the Syrian Government, it was one of the most active State sponsors of terrorism, even against its own people. The Syrian Arab Republic was a brutal dictatorship and a police state, and had continued to support terrorism since 11 September 2001, even as it sat on the Security Council.

48. It was time for the puppet regime in Beirut and for the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to stop their baseless accusations and fulfil their own obligations under international law and Security Council resolutions.

49. Mr. Assaf (Lebanon), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that agreements between the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon concerned only them and not Israel. Although he himself had not made the statements that Israel was attributing to him, it was impossible not to criticize a country recognized as an aggressor by the Security Council and by all nations. It was unconscionable, then, that the Israeli representative should be the one calling for respect for Security Council resolutions. Israel was understandably upset because it had been defeated by a small, heroic resistance movement seeking to liberate its territory. As for terrorists in his country, he acknowledged that some wanted terrorists were known to be in hiding in a Palestinian deportee camp in southern Lebanon but, given the nature of the camp, his Government had no access to them and had not been able to bring them to justice.

50. Mr. Fallouh (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the Syrian Arab Republic was in Lebanon because of agreements between the two Governments, whereas Israel had had no right to interfere in the domestic affairs of Lebanon and destroy its citizens and its cities; but for the resistance of the Lebanese people, it would not have ended its occupation. Israel still had to release dozens of Lebanese prisoners in Israel, and it must put an end to its occupation of all Arab territories, or there would be no peace in the Middle East. Israel was the only State exercising State terrorism and murdering thousands. It claimed to be a democracy, but democracy must apply in relations between States as well.


54. The Chairman said that the Committee would suspend its consideration of agenda item 78 until it took up, early in the new year, the report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.

The meeting rose at 5.15 p.m.

This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.

Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.

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