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Report Following Al-Khalil Massacre – Resolution 904 (1994)

The Massacre at Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi in Al-Khalil on 25 February 1994
and the Adoption of Security Council Resolution 904 (1994)
"This abominable massacre was committed by elements introduced into Palestinian territory in flagrant violation of international law, in particular the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and a number of Security Council resolutions. The cause of this act is the policy pursued up to this very day by successive Israeli governments in connection with the establishment of settlements."
"The settlers have been heavily armed. Israel and its occupying forces have carried out all kinds of illegal practices, not in keeping with law or logic. What has taken place must be understood in that context. It is the result of a campaign of illegitimate Israeli settlements and the climate this has created, and not an isolated act, regardless of the numbers involved in the committing of this crime. In any event, we remain convinced - and all the evidence points in this direction - that the massacre was committed by several persons, including the main perpetrator, who unfortunately had arrived in the occupied territories form the United States of America."
"We believe that the Security Council should rapidly adopt a new resolution in which it would strongly condemn this massacre perpetrated against our people and would assume its responsibility for the protection of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, in accordance with previous resolutions adopted by the Security Council, in particular resolution 681 (1990)."

"It is precisely to serve and protect the peace process that my Government has - with great reluctance - made the difficult decision to allow this resolution to pass today, despite the existence of some language we find objectionable. For today in Washington my Government has announced several steps that will serve to restart the stalled Middle East peace process. First, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon have agreed to resume bilateral negotiations with Israel in April. Secondly, and of particular importance to the resolution we are discussing today, Israel and the PLO have had intensive discussions at the highest levels. They have finally agreed to convene a senior-level meeting, the timing of which will be announced in the days ahead.

The United States supports the operative paragraphs of the resolution that the Council has just adopted. However, we sought a paragraph by paragraph vote on this resolution because we wanted to record our objections to language introduced there. Had this language appeared in the operative paragraphs of the resolution, let me be clear: we would have exercised our veto. In fact, we are today voting against a resolution in the Commission on the Status of Women precisely because it implies that Jerusalem is "occupied Palestinian territory".

We simply do not support the description of the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war as "occupied Palestinian territory". In the view of my Government, this language could be taken to indicate sovereignty, a matter which both Israel and the PLO have agreed must be decided in negotiations on the final status of the territories. As agreed between them, those negotiations will not begin later than two years after the implementation of the Declaration of Principles.

Similarly, while my Government reaffirms our view that the Fourth Geneva Convention, of 12 August 1949, applies to territories occupied by Israel since 1967, we oppose the specific reference to Jerusalem in this resolution and will continue to oppose its insertion in future resolutions. As I have noted already, had this language been in the operative paragraphs, we would have vetoed the resolution.

Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues to be addressed in the negotiations. As President Clinton stated on 16 March, "In terms of the resolution of Jerusalem, the position of the United States has not changed. But that is a matter for the parties to decide. And in accord with the declaration, it is something to be ultimately decided at a later point. That's what we think should be done".

Under the Declaration of Principles, it is an issue which Israel and the PLO have agreed will be dealt with in the final status negotiations. My Government does not believe that it is helpful to the negotiations to include the kind of reference that is made to Jerusalem in this resolution. It could prejudge the outcome of the negotiations. The Security Council should respect the parties' agreement in this regard."

"The emerging details about the massacre itself - including the sudden and suspicious absence of the Israeli security elements at the beginning of the massacre and their participation in the shooting afterwards, and the policies implemented by the security forces of Israel, the occupying Power, with regard to Israeli settlers - confirm once again the validity of our general position that the massacre and all other heinous manifestations are simply the natural outcome of the ideology and mentality of settler colonialism on our Palestinian land.

The problem, then, is the illegal presence of settlers on our land. This cannot be reduced to the presence of extremist settlers only, in spite of the fact that they are the worst, and it definitely cannot be reduced to Baruch Goldstein, in spite of the fact that he has become the symbol of the problem, both in its origins and its outcome. Thus there can be no serious or real solutions to this problem without the adoption of new policies aimed at the reversal of the situation existing today and, at a later stage, the dismantlement of the settlements.

The second issue, which we raise as a result of discussions which have taken place here in the Council and which have been tainted by misinformation, regards the reference in the text of this resolution to Jerusalem as part of the occupied territories since 1967 and the relationship between this reference and the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles of 13 September 1993. It is well known that reference to Jerusalem as part of the occupied territories has been a consistent practice of the Council for a long time. In fact, every single resolution relating to the Palestinian issue adopted by the Council in the past has contained this language formulation, in preambular paragraphs and, indeed, in operative paragraphs alike.

Thus, the Council's adoption of the same language today only reflects continuation of this policy. Any attempt to change this language poses the danger of a change in the policy.

Here, we wish to express our disappointment and our deep concern over the abstention of the delegation of the United States of America in the vote on the last preambular paragraph in the resolution as well as in the vote on the second preambular paragraph, which came as a total surprise to us at the very last moment. We earnestly hope that those abstentions do not signal a departure from the United States' long-held consistent position on this sensitive issue.

With reference to the question of the potential impact of the Declaration of Principles on the question of Jerusalem and on other important issues such as settlements and refugees, which have been postponed until the second stage of negotiations between the two sides, I categorically affirm that the legal and political status of those issues is determined by international law and international legitimacy. Furthermore, postponement of negotiations on those issues has no bearing whatsoever on their current legal and political status. For example, according to international humanitarian law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and several Security Council resolutions, the settlements are illegal and constitute obstacles to peace. They remain so, whether there has been no negotiation on them at all or there shall be negotiations tomorrow or after two years. The same applies to Jerusalem.

Arab East Jerusalem has been an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967, and according to relevant Security Council resolutions and the principles of international law, all measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, aimed at changing the status of Jerusalem are null and void. If the Declaration of Principles has any bearing on this, it should be understood in favor of the position of the international community and not the opposite, since Israel accepted in principle that the final status of Jerusalem will be subject to negotiation.

We hope that no party would contemplate distorting or manipulating the facts or would attempt to change the realities related to these important issues, because such attempts would certainly lead to dangerous results, which must be avoided."

"The resolution adopted today by the Council is undoubtedly an essential and important step forward. The resolution itself demonstrates that the Council has upheld its own responsibilities towards the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. In this resolution, the Council, after it strongly condemns Al-Khalil massacre, calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, given its obligations and responsibilities, to take specific measures, including confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers. The Council, at the same time, call for measures to be taken to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians throughout the occupied territory, including a temporary international or foreign presence. The Council then requests the co-sponsors of the peace process to undertake the necessary support for the implementation of those measures.

The main issue here, as Members are aware, is the provision of protection for the Palestinian civilians under occupation. The materialization of such protection will lead to the creation of a new situation on the ground, in which our people may start to have a normal life, albeit a limited one, until the end of the occupation. The Security Council, as is clear from the resolution, did not get into the details of this issue. That fact does not, however, absolve the Council from its responsibilities towards the implementation of the resolution in the direction defined by the Council today and decided in its previous resolutions, particularly resolution 681 (1990).

We believe that the main task now is the implementation of the resolution. For our part, we will work with the parties concerned to begin this implementation immediately. The experience of our people with previous Security Council resolutions is not a happy one, and we strongly hope that things will be different this time."

"We, the Palestinians, have a vested interest in the peace process and its success, and we are committed to it. But, at the same time, we say that the resumption of this process as if nothing had happened is not feasible, and suggesting such a thing is unacceptable and even immoral. The restarting of the process and its successful conclusion depend on the credibility of the process, the credibility of its sponsors and the credibility of its participants, especially the Israeli government, which should adopt clear measures to respond to the pain and the needs of our people and not only to deal with the negative impact of the massacre on the Israeli side.

The Palestinian people need to be convinced that Israel is serious about peace. That, however, will be very difficult to achieve without them first becoming convinced that no more massacres will be committed against them in the future."

"Over the past few days, several Jordanian officials have been making confusing comments on the issue of Jerusalem in connection with the action taken by the Security Council on 18 March 1994, when it adopted without a vote Resolution 904 (1994). Until now, the Palestinian side has avoided responding to those puzzling statements because of the centrality and sensitivity of the issue of Jerusalem for all Arabs, and in an effort to avoid any hint of possible disagreement on this crucial issue.

Today, however, the Arab daily newspaper "Al-Hayat" reported that the Permanent Observer of Jordan to the United Nations, in a similar statement, suggested that the issue of Jerusalem might have been better served if the Palestinian side had accepted removal of the reference to Jerusalem from Resolution 904 (1994). While the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations expresses its astonishment over such a statement, it emphasizes the fact that the removal of the reference would have been the first time not to refer to Jerusalem as part of the occupied territories in any Security Council resolution. Having done that would have amounted to total submission to illegitimate requests from the United States administration on this important issue.

The Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations wishes to state that the Palestinian side remains proud of its position of prinicple, and calls for a united Arab front to confront the indications of a change in the American position on this important issue and the possibility of further deterioration of that position. At the same time, the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine expresses its satisfaction with the joint position adopted by the Arab Group in its meeting on 24 March 1994, taking a series of actions in this regard."