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Security Council holds debate on 'extremely grave' situation in Middle East

Security Council holds debate on 'extremely grave' situation in Middle East

UN Security Council in session
Responding to a request by the Arab Group of countries for a meeting on "the extremely grave and deteriorating situation" in the Middle East, the Security Council today met in an open session, with representatives from over 30 nations set to take part in the debate on the issue.

At the outset of the meeting, Ambassador Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Permanent Observer for Palestine, said Israel had recently reoccupied Ramallah and imposed a military curfew on Yasser Arafat's headquarters. He noted that all along, the Israeli forces had maintained a tight siege against other Palestinian cities and had reoccupied some of them. Ambassador Al-Kidwa said that Israel had tried at a feverish pace to institutionalize the "heinous situation" emanating from the military assault against the Palestinian people, including by isolating Palestinian areas from each other. He added that the colonization of Palestinian land continued unabated, with more and more settlements being built.

Ambassador Al-Kidwa stated that Israel had committed atrocities against the Palestinian people, including war crimes and State-sponsored acts of terrorism, and called on the international community and the Security Council to condemn all Israeli actions and take steps to stop them. Asserting that Israel had openly rejected the relevant Council resolutions, he questioned how the Council could allow the situation to continue and when its resolutions would be implemented. He called on the Council to condemn Israel's practices and reject its destruction of the Oslo accords, to implement the resolutions, and to push towards comprehensive rapprochement.

For his part, Ambassador Yehuda Lancry, the Permanent Representative of Israel, said his country had responded to recent Security Council resolutions by withdrawing troops from Palestinian cities, negotiating an end to the standoff at the Church of the Nativity, and redeploying its forces so that the Palestinian leadership could reassert its authority. "To this day, we still await any steps taken by the Palestinian leadership towards the fulfilment of their obligations," he said. Palestinian terrorists continued to target Israeli civilians, while other regimes, including Syria, encouraged such acts, he said, urging the Council to demand that Damascus halt this support.

While Israel could not "sit back and watch as recognized terrorists freely roam the streets, planning the murder of Israelis," the country realized that "ultimately Israelis and Palestinians must find a way to live together in peace." Israel had not responded to a recent suicide bombing so as to give diplomacy a chance. "We have welcomed the efforts of responsible parties, including the Quartet [United States, UN, European Union and Russian Federation], to help move Israel and the Palestinians back to a constructive path, but the success of these endeavours will primarily depend upon concerted action by the Palestinian side to fight terrorism," he said.