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General Assembly resumes emergency special session on Occupied Palestinian Territory

General Assembly resumes emergency special session on Occupied Palestinian Territory

The United Nations General Assembly today resumed its debate on "Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory" to consider a report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the events that took place earlier this year in Jenin and other Palestinian cities.

Numerous speakers decried Israel's refusal to admit a fact-finding team to Jenin following the incursion - an initiative originally proposed by the Secretary-General and later backed by the Security Council. During the debate, the question of why the report had not used the term "massacre" was also raised, with some criticizing the text as too weak and others countering that, considering the limitations, it had been a balanced and conscientious attempt to clarify the issue.

Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Permanent Observer for Palestine, said that the full facts have not been examined. "A real, direct investigation remains a necessity for revealing the whole truth." Irrespective of the report's shortcomings, it did confirm that Israel had committed war crimes, atrocities and other serious violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The situation had "gravely deteriorated" since, with the Israeli forces engaging in "yet another wave" of invasion and reoccupation, with a devastating humanitarian impact. The Palestinian Authority clearly opposed all suicide bombings. At the same time, resisting Israeli occupation "is our right, if not our duty," he said. Welcoming international consensus on a two-State solution, he urged a comprehensive approach dealing with all aspects of the situation.

Israeli Ambassador Aaron Jacob said the report reconfirmed that there had been no massacre at Jenin. Israel had faced the painful dilemma of trying to protect innocent lives without giving free reign to terrorists. He noted the report's comments regarding the conduct of Israel's defence forces, particularly regarding delays in humanitarian access "as a result of the fighting and booby-trapping of civilian homes by Palestinian gunmen," and said Israel was committed to facilitating the work of humanitarian agencies. To return to the path of peace, "moderate Palestinians, neighbouring Arab States and the international community as a whole must broadcast an unequivocal message - terrorism and support for it is intolerable and criminal and will not be rewarded by political concessions."

After close to 40 speakers took the floor during the daylong debate, the Assembly recessed at 5:45 p.m. and was scheduled to reconvene later in the evening, when it was also expected to adopt a resolution on the situation.