Agenda items 36 and 37
The situation in the Middle East
Question of Palestine
1. On 20 September 2010, the following reply to the letter of the Secretary-General dated 1 July 2010 (see A/65/380-S/2010/484, para. 2), was received from the Security Council:
"The goal of achieving a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine remains one of the major challenges facing the international community, including the Security Council.
"The Security Council considers the situation in Palestine each month under an agenda item on 'The situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine'. During most months, a briefing has been given either by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs or by the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East in a public meeting, followed by consultations among the Council members. During the months of July and October 2009 and January and April 2010, the monthly meeting was held in the form of an open debate.
"On 27 July 2009, the Council held an open debate on the situation in the Middle East, during which it heard a briefing from the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco. The Council also heard statements by the Representative of Israel and the Observer for Palestine. The Assistant Secretary-General outlined the recent international efforts to create conditions under which negotiations between the parties could resume. He recalled that the Secretary-General and members of the Quartet had met in Trieste, Italy, on 26 June, and informed the Council that the members of the Quartet underlined the need for both Israel and Palestine to implement their obligations under the road map. He also emphasized that Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) remains the main framework for a way forward in Gaza. He called for a prompt and positive response to the proposal from the Secretary-General for the entry of materials needed to complete construction of housing, health and education facilities suspended since 2007 as a means to kick-start recovery in Gaza. Members of the Council reiterated their support for the ongoing efforts to reinvigorate the peace process in all its tracks and for the convening of an international conference in Moscow.
"On 19 August 2009, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, briefed the Council on the situation in the Middle East. During subsequent consultations of the whole, Council members expressed strong support for international efforts aimed at a rapid resumption and conclusion of peace negotiations, which it was hoped would lead to comprehensive peace in the Middle East. They also stressed the need for Israelis and Palestinians to fulfil their road map obligations, including a complete freeze of settlement activity by Israel and an end to violence instigated by Palestinian militants. Council members expressed concern about the continuing humanitarian situation in Gaza. They called for the implementation of resolution 1860 (2009), and for the opening of the crossing points into Gaza within an appropriate monitoring framework.
"On 17 September 2009, the Council heard a briefing from the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert H. Serry. He noted the efforts under way towards the early resumption and conclusion of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. He voiced concern about continued Israeli settlement activity. He recognized the announcement by the Palestinian Authority that it planned to build the institutions of a State apparatus within the coming two years. He stated that the situation in Gaza remained unsustainable. He noted the release of the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone (also referred to as the Goldstone report) (see S/2009/586) and its upcoming discussion by the Human Rights Council. The Special Coordinator also briefed the Council on efforts to form a government in Lebanon and on the two rockets launched from southern Lebanon into Israel on 11 September. He noted that leaders would be gathering in New York for the general debate in the General Assembly and that there would be a meeting of the Quartet principals. He called on the parties to take responsibility and seize the opportunity to make the necessary commitments to relaunch negotiations. The Council met in consultations following the briefing to discuss the situation further. A number of members expressed concern over continuing Israeli settlement activity and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
"On 7 October 2009, during urgent consultations of the whole, the Council exchanged views on the request of a Council member to convene an urgent meeting to discuss the Goldstone report. After intensive consultations, the Council decided to hold its open debate on the Middle East on 14 October, instead of 21 October as previously scheduled.
"At the open debate on 14 October 2009, the Council was briefed by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, who said that political efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict had continued but there had been no significant progress on the ground. He confirmed the support of the Secretary-General for the work of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and his call for credible national investigations into the conduct of the conflict without delay, which was echoed by a number of delegations that addressed the Council after the briefing. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, the Permanent Representative of Israel and 27 other speakers addressed the Council. Many speakers called for an end to all acts of violence and for strict compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as for the safety and security of all civilians and diplomatic and United Nations premises and personnel. They urged all parties concerned to rise to shoulder their mutual obligations under the road map, the Madrid terms of reference, the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant Security Council resolutions, thus contributing to the peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts, and the ultimate attainment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. A number of participants expressed concern about the findings in the Goldstone report and the need to urgently address the continuing grave humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, including the need for the long-overdue reconstruction process to commence.
"On 24 November 2009, the Council heard a briefing on the situation in the Middle East by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Haile Menkerios. He reported that political efforts towards a negotiated two-State solution had reached a deep and worrying impasse, even as security and economic efforts had continued on the ground. He reiterated the call by the Secretary-General for immediate action to strengthen the process, a reaffirmation of road map requirements and their implementation, and clear terms of reference for negotiations on all core issues grounded in the resolutions of the Council and agreements reached between the parties. He recalled that the Secretary-General had issued a statement deploring Israel's continued settlement activity and had expressed his dismay at the continuation of demolitions and evictions in Jerusalem. He pointed out that the situation in East Jerusalem underlined the importance that parties refrain from provocations and incitement. As to the situation in the Gaza Strip, he recalled that key elements of resolution 1860 (2009) remained to be fulfilled. He expressed concern at the deterioration of public infrastructure, environmental degradation and destruction of livelihoods in the Gaza Strip, and that no meaningful progress had been made to kick-start essential United Nations civilian construction activities. He reported that 12 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza into southern Israel during the reporting period. During subsequent consultations of the whole, Council members urged the parties to rapidly resume peace negotiations. They stressed the need for Israelis and Palestinians to fulfil their road map obligations and a number called for a complete freeze of settlement activity by Israel, including in East Jerusalem. Members expressed concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and reiterated their call for the full implementation of resolution 1860 (2009).