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10th Emergency Special Session (March 1997)

(27 March 1997)

10 th Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, Pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 377 A (V), Uniting for Peace, on Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory

1 ) Israel, the occupying Power, decided on 26 February 1997 to build a new settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim to the south of occupied East Jerusalem. This came in addition to a series of actions continuing to change the legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem and resuming settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory. All of those actions are in violation of international law and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and in violation of the agreements between the Israeli and Palestinian sides. The Israeli actions represent a serious threat to the Middle East peace process and to the efforts to build a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region. As such, they represent a threat to international peace and security.

2) On the 7th of March, the Security Council, in its 3745th meeting, failed to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security due to a negative vote by a permanent member (United States) on a draft resolution concerning Jerusalem and Israeli settlement activities. The draft resolution vetoed by the U.S. was sponsored by France, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom and received 14 votes in favor.

3) The General Assembly held an urgent meeting to consider the situation, and it voted, on 13 March 1997, overwhelmingly in support of essentially the same text that was vetoed by the United States at the Security Council. Only the U.S. and Israel voted against resolution 51/223 and Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained.

4) In less than 24 hours after the adoption of General Assembly resolution 51/223, Israel again defied the international community by reaffirming its decision and, on 18 March 1997, began the actual construction of the Jabal Abu Ghneim settlement. The Arab Group decided to bring the issue before the Council once again. On 21 March 1997, a concise and practical draft resolution was presented by Egypt and Qatar (Chair of the Arab Group). In its 3756th meeting on the same day, the Council once more failed to exercise its responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations due to a U.S. veto. 13 members voted in favor and Costa Rica abstained.

5) In light of the actual threat posed by the Israeli actions to international peace and security by endangering the Middle East peace process, and in light of the two successive U.S. vetoes (in less than two weeks), preventing the Council from the exercise of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the General Assembly should convene an Emergency Special Session pursuant to General Assembly resolution 377 (V), Uniting for Peace (rule 8 (b) of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly), to consider the illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory and to take the necessary measures.

6) The General Assembly, in its resolution 377 (V), Uniting for Peace, which was adopted on 3 November 1950, reaffirmed the duty of the permanent members of the Council to seek unanimity and to excercise restraint in the use of the veto and resolved "that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures, ..."

7) An Emergency Special Session is convened within 24 hours of the receipt by the Secretary-General of a request for such a session from the Security Council, on the vote of any nine members thereof or upon request from a majority of members of the United Nations.

8) The General Assembly in its Emergency Special Session will have the ability to adopt a strong resolution by an overwhelming majority of the member states. The resolution should be one which would renew the just position of the international community regarding illegal Israeli actions, with a practical aspect aiming at stopping the construction of the settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim and other illegal actions taken by Israel in Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory. Of course, the resolution should also renew support for the Middle East peace process and for implementation of the agreements reached.

9) The General Assembly did convene an Emergency Special Session on the question of Palestine in the past. The 7th Emergency Special Session was held in July of 1980, following the failure of the Security Council to act upon the recommendations of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which had been endorsed by the General Assembly. The 7th Emergency Special Session was resumed in April, June, August and September of 1982.

10) The 9th Emergency Special Session was convened to consider the situation in the occupied Arab territories, the Syrian Golan, in February of 1982. The session was convened at the request of the Security Council, as contained in resolution 500 (1982) after the Council failed to exercise its primary responsibilities due to a veto cast by the U.S. on 20 January 1982.

11) Among the other Emergency Special Sessions held, two were related to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The 1st Emergency Session was held in November 1956 to consider the situation related to the Suez Canal and the 5th, which took place in the wake of the 1967 war, was convened in June of that year.

12) This new Emergency Special Session, if convened, will be the 10th. We seek your support for the convening of the Emergency Special Session, as well as your participation in the debate of the General Assembly and support for the draft resolution. The international community should act and act decisively.