NEW YORK, 30 JUNE 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3900th MEETING
The President: I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of Portugal.
Portugal fully subscribes to the statement made by the presidency of the European Union.
The successful conclusion of the Hebron Protocol had led us to believe that Israel and the Palestinians would, at this moment, be focusing on the timely implementation of all the agreements they had already reached and would by now be starting talks on the final status.
However, since then, the peace process has remained at a stalemate. That is why both the Council and the General Assembly, each according to its own responsibilities, are being called from time to time to deal with elements of disturbance that could jeopardize the peace process and disrupt international peace and security.
We would have expected to see the parties seated around the table, negotiating directly in a good atmosphere, enabling them to tackle the crucial issues which remain to be addressed.
But unhelpful unilateral actions are creating serious obstacles to the peace process. I am referring in particular to the recent endorsement by the Government of Israel of plans to extend the municipal authority of Jerusalem in a way that will alter the status quo of the city and prejudge the outcome of the final status negotiations.
We believe that this decision constitutes a violation of the numerous resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly. We also believe that such a measure contravenes the terms of reference of the peace process and the spirit of the Oslo accords. Furthermore, this decision follows a succession of unacceptable actions by the Israeli authorities against the Palestinian population in Jerusalem. Those actions violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which applies de facto and de jure to the occupied territories, including Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, these measures not only increase the frustration felt by all those who have been supporting the peace process, but they also encourage those forces on both sides which have been directly or indirectly opposing peace. This will also further complicate the task of those engaged in mediating or assisting the parties in the peace process in order to bring them together and help them overcome their differences.
Such measures can only undermine the indispensable trust and confidence that the parties must build up in order to achieve a just, comprehensive and longstanding political settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and to establish a new relationship based on cooperation from which all countries and peoples of the region will benefit.
In this regard, we appeal to the Israeli authorities to reconsider these decisions on the municipality of Jerusalem and to refrain from translating them into any concrete action, since this would only further derail the peace talks. We also appeal to the Israeli Government to accept, as quickly as possible, the current United States initiative, so that the peace process can resume.
Portugal firmly believes that there is no alternative to the peace process in the Middle East. The Council must urge the parties to live up to their commitments and to comply with their obligations under international law and the agreements they have reached.
In this context, my delegation is ready to consider, at an appropriate time, further action by the Council on this issue.
I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council.