Security Council holds debate on Middle East conflict

Security Council holds debate on Middle East conflict

With representatives of close to 40 countries signed up to take the floor, the United Nations Security Council met in an open meeting this afternoon to discuss the situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine.

The meeting, which followed a closed session of the Council to hear a briefing by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on a proposed multinational force, was convened at the request of Tunisia as Chairman of the Arab Group.

Speaking at the outset of the Council's debate, Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer for Palestine, called on the Council to adopt the Secretary-General concept for the force, invoking Chapter VII of the UN Charter to enforce implementation of its recent resolutions. "The least we can expect is that the Council maintain seriousness in demanding respect for its resolutions," he said, adding that some protection must be provided to the Palestinian people.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel, Aaron Jacob, said Israel had made it clear that it accepted "the idea of third party American monitors to supervise the implementation of Tenet and Mitchell" and was "willing to favourably consider an international presence in the context of a comprehensive settlement." But it could not put its faith in a "robust international presence, which could not be effective in the face of a continuing strategy of Palestinian terrorism," he said.

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