Security Council calls on Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities, urges sides to move to ceasefire

30 March 2002
UN Security Council in session

Meeting in the early hours of Saturday morning in an emergency session on Middle East violence that followed a four-hour debate the previous night, the United Nations Security Council today adopted a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah, and urging both parties to move immediately to a meaningful ceasefire.

Meeting in the early hours of Saturday morning in an emergency session on Middle East violence that followed a four-hour debate the previous night, the United Nations Security Council today adopted a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah, and urging both parties to move immediately to a meaningful ceasefire.

The Council adopted resolution 1402 by a vote of 14 in favour to none opposed. Syria, the 15th member, did not participate in the vote. Prior to the vote, the Council President, Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby of Norway, said it was the common understanding of the members that the draft's operative paragraph 1, which listed the specific demands to the parties, did not indicate any sequence of the elements contained in it.

Expressing grave concern at the further deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, including the recent suicide bombings in Israel and the military attack against the headquarters of the President of the Palestinian Authority, the Council called on the sides to cooperate fully with United States Special Envoy Anthony Zinni.

With the aim of resuming negotiations on a political settlement, the Council urged the parties to implement the understanding reached by the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, as a first step towards implementation of the recommendations made by a committee chaired by former US Senator George Mitchell.

The Council also reiterated the demand of its earlier resolution, 1397, for an immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction. It expressed support for the efforts of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the special envoys to the Middle East to assist the parties to halt the violence and to resume the peace process.

Late on Friday, at the outset of the debate that preceded the Council's action, the Secretary-General urged the Council to consider how the international community could help ensure that the relevant Council resolutions become a reality, and how to help bring the parties back to the negotiating table. He urged Israel to halt its assault on the Palestinian Authority and called on the Palestinians to accept the Zinni peace plan. Terrorism would not bring the Palestinian people closer to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, he stressed. At the same time, he noted that he had consistently voiced criticism over Israel's use of disproportionate lethal force.

In his statement, Israel's representative, Ambassador Yehuda Lancry, stressed that the voice of the Palestinian leadership had been the voice of terrorism rather than moderation and wondered what Israel was to do in the face of the deliberate massacres and the failure of the Palestinian leadership to fulfil its commitments. He said Israel had no intention of occupying any territory under Palestinian control; rather, it sought to uproot the terrorist network there. Israel, he said, would keep its hand outstretched towards peace. Chairman Arafat could be convinced to fight terrorism, but, for that to happen, the message sent to him must be clear, comprehensive and unrelenting.

The Permanent Observer for Palestine, Nasser Al-Kidwa, said the current Israeli military action represented the beginning of the destruction of the elected Palestinian Authority, getting rid of Mr. Arafat, and reoccupying Palestinian territory. That action, he pointed out, came directly on the heels of the Arab League Summit in Beirut, which had adopted landmark resolutions that could change the entire situation in the Middle East region. The Council must uphold its responsibilities under the Charter and follow up on implementation of resolution 1397, he said. It must also address the grave situation created by the latest actions by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and ensure that Israel put an end to acts of aggression and withdrew its forces from the Palestinian territories, including Ramallah.

The Council debate, which involved representatives of some 30 countries, began at 6:40 p.m. on Friday, a UN holiday, and was suspended an hour before midnight. The Council then reconvened at 4:25 on Saturday morning to vote on the resolution.

 

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