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        Economic and Social Council
29 May 1996

Original: FRENCH


Fifty-second session


Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Tuesday, 23 April 1996, at 3 p.m.

Chairman: Mr. VERGNE SABOIA (Brazil)



This record is subject to correction.

Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Official Records Editing Section, room E.4108, Palais des Nations, Geneva.

Any corrections to the records of the public meetings of the Commission at this session will be consolidated in a single corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the session.

The meeting was called to order at 3.35 p.m.


Draft resolution E/CN.4/1996/L.78 (Human rights situation in southern Lebanon and the western Bekaa) (continued)

1. Mr. BAUTISTA (Philippines) said it was essential to ensure that the tragic events in southern Lebanon caused by the actions of Hizbullah and the Israeli armed forces were never repeated. Like the Security Council and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, the Philippines categorically condemned those actions and wished to see a lasting peace settlement in the region. It therefore resolutely supported all efforts capable of restoring peace and urged all parties to cooperate in the ongoing peace process. His country would make the same statement in New York at the special session of the General Assembly to be held on the situation in southern Lebanon.

2. His delegation therefore supported the draft resolution, although it would have preferred a more balanced text.

3. Mr. LAMDAN (Observer for Israel) said that his delegation had long had difficulties with the one-sided and simplistic draft resolutions adopted each year on the human rights situation in southern Lebanon and the western Bekaa. Israel had already expressed its regret for the tragic incident at Kana, but wished to point out that it was the terrorists of Hizbullah, and not Israeli soldiers, who were deliberately targeting innocent civilians. Hizbullah terrorists had also not hesitated to site themselves within a few hundred metres of a UNIFIL position. Two Fijian soldiers had already been injured in a previous incident. Israel had urged Lebanese civilians to evacuate the area for their own safety and had warned that it would return fire. It had not known of the large numbers of civilians concentrated at the UNIFIL base when it had taken action to silence the Hizbullah rocket launchers. In human terms, the outcome had been devastating, but the blame lay with Hizbullah. Indeed, it was not impossible that Hizbullah had deliberately sought that horrifying result.

4. Further blame lay with the Government of Lebanon, which had done nothing to exercise its sovereignty in the south or to discharge its international obligations by restraining Hizbullah from using its territory to attack Israel. It should also be recalled that 52 Israeli civilians had been injured since 21 April 1996 and that over 1,000 buildings had been damaged in Kiryat Shemonah alone.

5. Israel supported the diplomatic process under way to reach a lasting cease-fire, but considered that Hizbullah had to be prevented as a matter of priority from attacking Israel with rockets or by any other means. Syria and Lebanon must also accept that requirement. Israel could not be expected to put in place a unilateral cease-fire without being able to protect its own citizens. With the achievement of a cease-fire and the attainment of new understandings, Israel would be prepared to resume peace talks with Syria and Lebanon in order to find a political solution to the problem of Lebanon, but its aim was still to prevent Hizbullah from undermining the peace process. A few days earlier, a senior Hizbullah leader had told the Swedish newspaper Expressen that his movement wanted not only an Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, but also a complete evacuation of "Palestine". Israel could also not ignore the evidence of the growing involvement of Iran in supplying arms to Hizbullah with the aim of damaging the peace process.

6. Israel had already indicated that it was prepared to accept Security Council resolution 425 (1978), but only within the framework of a peace agreement that provided appropriate security arrangements, including the disarmament of Hizbullah. On 18 April 1996, with a view to moving forward on the Palestinian problem, the Prime Minister of Israel had agreed with Mr. Arafat to deepen cooperation against Hamas terrorrism, following vigorous action taken by the Palestinian Authority against the Islamic fundamentalist opposition. A committee had been set up on the implementation of the last Interim Agreement (Oslo II), including the redeployment of the Israel Defence Forces in Hebron. Lastly, the opening of talks with the Palestinians about permanent status arrangements had been set for 4 May 1996. Israel also wished to move forward on the Syrian-Lebanon problem, but it was intolerable that Syria should be treating for peace and, at the same time, supporting and probably supplying Hizbullah.

7. In short, the Middle East today was divided into two camps. The main camp supported the peace process, and in it Israel and the majority of Arab States were partners. The other camp was headed by the rejectionists (Iran, Iraq and Libya), operating through Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Commission should view the developments in southern Lebanon in that broad context and adopt resolutions that would help the peace camp and the peace process.

8. Mrs. FERRARO (United States of America) said that she profoundly deplored the casualties and destruction caused recently in southern Lebanon and Israel by the resumption of Hizbullah rocket attacks on the civilian population in northern Israel. The Commission and the international community as a whole must redouble efforts to reach a just and lasting peace in southern Lebanon, within the framework of the ongoing Middle East peace process.

9. To contribute to an immediate cease-fire, the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Warren Christopher, was currently in the region and the United Nations Security Council was seized of the question. For its part, the Commission must ensure that the resolution on the situation in southern Lebanon was balanced and properly reflected the reality, which meant that Israel should not be condemned alone. The Government of Lebanon was clearly not exercising its authority over the whole of Lebanon since that was the only country from which direct attacks were frequently being made against Israel's civilian population. The peace process called for both moderation and the willingness to eliminate sources of violence.

10. For the hopes born recently in the Middle East not to be dashed, the Commission must reject such a one-sided resolution and instead demonstrate a renewed commitment to the peace process.

11. Mr. BARKER (Australia) said that his country was horrified by the events of the previous two weeks in northern Israel and in Lebanon. Australia strongly supported the call by the Security Council for an immediate cease-fire to avoid a recurrence of tragedies such as the one at Kana. Australia also profoundly regretted the losses suffered by the United Nations forces while carrying out their mission in southern Lebanon. It believed that a cease-fire was the essential first step towards the resumption of negotiations for a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.

12. Such a peace, however, presupposed that Israel's security was assured, that the sovereignty of Israel and Lebanon was respected and that Syria, which bore part of the responsibility for putting an end to the Hizbullah attacks against Israel, also agreed to such a settlement. The Government of Lebanon must furthermore be able to negotiate for the whole of Lebanon, within the framework of Security Council resolution 425 (1978), and give credible guarantees regarding the security of Israel's northern borders.

13. At the request of the representative of Egypt, a vote was taken by roll-call on draft resolution E/CN.4/1996/L.78.

14. Malaysia, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first.

The meeting rose at 6.10 p.m.

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