Yearbook of the United Nations, 2002. Part 1, Political and security questions. Chapter 6, Middle East
The strife in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continued throughout 2002 with increasing intensity, causing heavy loss of life, widespread destruction and a breakdown in the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The impasse persisted despite many international efforts to keep alive the 2001 Mitchell Committee recommendations on ending the violence, starting with an unconditional ceasefire. The Palestinian intifada (uprising), which had erupted in September 2000 following the visit of then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to a holy Islamic site in the Old City of Jerusalem, continued unabated. Palestinian paramilitary groups resorted to an ever more frequent use of suicide bombers. For its part, Israel, on 28 March, launched a military action, Operation Defensive Shield, which led to the reoccupation by Israel of almost all the major Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps in the West Bank, in particular Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin. In Ramallah, the main target was the headquarters of Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and PLO Chairman. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem—one of the holiest Christian sites—was besieged by Israeli forces for 39 days. Israel's April military operation against the Jenin refugee camp brought devastation and suffering to some 14,000 refugees. The camp sustained a high death and injury toll, exacerbated by extensive property damage. The Secretary-General's initiative to establish a fact-finding team to report on the events that took place inside the camp was welcomed by the Security Council. However, due to lack of cooperation from the Israeli Government, the Secretary-General was forced to disband the team. In June, Israel launched another military offensive resulting in the reoccupation of seven West Bank cities, the arrest of suspected militants and their relatives, house demolitions, a tight regime of internal and external closures and stringent on-and-off curfews. The Quartet, a coordinating mechanism for international peace efforts, which comprised the Russian Federation, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, continued its efforts to mediate a ceasefire and to revive the peace process. At an April meeting in Madrid, Spain, the Quartet called for a comprehensive approach to address security, economic and political concerns. In July, in New York, the Quartet expressed strong support for achieving a final Israeli-Palestinian settlement, consistent with a 24 June statement by George W. Bush, President of the United States, in which he called for two democratic States living side by side in peace and security. The Quartet agreed in September on a three-year, three-phase road map to achieve a comprehensive peace. The first phase would involve Palestinian security reform, Israeli withdrawal and Palestinian elections in early 2003. By the end of December, the Quartet was in the process of finalizing the road map. It reported some progress by the PA to advance political and security reform, and Israel had transferred some tax revenues to the PA. Another major international effort to reach a solution to the conflict was made in March by the League of Arab States (LAS), based on a Saudi Arabian proposal. Under that plan, Israel would withdraw from all Arab territories occupied since 1967 and accept a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations with all Arab States in the context of a comprehensive peace. Concerned about the deteriorating situation in the region, the Security Council convened 15 times during the year to discuss the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. On 12 March, the Council adopted a resolution that affirmed its vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, lived side by side within secure and recognized borders. It called on the two sides to cooperate in implementing the Mitchell report recommendations. On 30 March, the Council called on both parties to move to a meaningful ceasefire and for Israeli forces to withdraw from Palestinian cities; it demanded the implementation of those terms on 4April. On 19 April, the Council welcomed the Secretary-General's initiative to establish a fact-finding team to report on the events in the Jenin refugee camp. Expressing concern at the 19 September reoccupation of Mr. Arafat's headquarters, the Council, on 24 September, demanded that Israel cease measures in and around Ramallah and called on the PA to bring those responsible for terrorist acts to justice. In December, a draft resolution, by which the Council would have condemned the killing by Israeli forces of UN employees and the destruction of a United Nations World Food Programme warehouse, was not adopted due to the negative vote of the United States, a permanent Council member. Throughout the year, the Council also expressed its support for the Quartet's efforts and the LAS initiative. In May and August, the General Assembly resumed its tenth emergency special session, which first convened in 1997, to discuss the item “Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory”. In May, the Assembly condemned Israel's refusal to cooperate with the Jenin fact-finding team and requested the Secretary-General to present a report, drawing upon available information, on the events that took place in the camp. In August, the Assembly considered the Secretary-General's report, called for a cessation of military incursions and all acts of violence, and demanded the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces to the positions held prior to September 2000. At its regular session in December, the Assembly welcomed the Quartet's efforts and the LAS peace initiative, and stressed the necessity for a commitment to the vision of a two-State solution and the principle of land for peace. In southern Lebanon, Israeli forces and their main Lebanese opponents, the paramilitary group Hizbullah, continued to face each other along the “Blue Line”, the provisional border drawn by the United Nations following the withdrawal of Israeli troops from south Lebanon in June 2000. Violations and attacks across the Blue Line occurred sporadically throughout the year. The dispute, which centred on control of the Shab'a farmland, also raised tensions between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic. Lebanon's decision to undertake a project to draw water from the Wazzani River drew protests from Israel. The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General met with Lebanese authorities in December 2002, in order to defuse the situation and find a diplomatic solution. The mandates of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights were extended twice during the year, and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization continued to assist both peacekeeping operations in their tasks. In December, having fulfilled most of its mandate with regard to observing the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, UNIFIL completed its reconfiguration and redeployment phase, thereby significantly reducing the size of the Force. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) continued to provide a wide-ranging programme of education and health and social services to nearly 4 million Palestinian refugees living both in and outside camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. In 2002, the Agency continued to focus on humanitarian emergency assistance due to the ever-increasing level of violence and deteriorating socio-economic situation in the occupied territories. Two emergency appeals were launched to provide food, health services, shelter and short-term emergency employment opportunities for refugees. During the year, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories reported to the Assembly on the situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People continued to mobilize international support for the Palestinians. By decision 57/519 of 4 December, the General Assembly deferred consideration of the agenda item “Armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace and security” and included it in the provisional agenda of its fifty-eighth (2003) session. The item had been inscribed yearly on the Assembly's agenda since 1981, following the bombing by Israel of a nuclear research centre near Baghdad [YUN 1981, p. 275].
Yearbook of the United Nations, 2002. v. 56; Vol. 56
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