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9th plenary meeting
Saturday, 26 September 2009, 9 a.m.
The meeting was called to order at 9.10 a.m.
Agenda item 8 (continued)
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish ): I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Mr. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Malielegaoi (Samoa): ...
A permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to be an elusive goal, and seems a lost cause. President Obama’s relaunching afresh this week of the stalled Middle East peace talks will hopefully be the catalyst that brings about renewed impetus in achieving a secure State of Israel living alongside a Palestinian State.
Mr. Christian (Ghana), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The President : I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Mr. Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili, Prime Minister and Minister for Defence and Public Service of the Kingdom of Lesotho, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Mosisili (Lesotho): ...
I would be remiss not to refer to the plight of the peoples of the State of Palestine, the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic and the Republic of Cuba. These are peoples who continue to experience untold suffering, ranging from war to political, economic and social injustices. We call on Israel to cease all settlement activities, including the so-called natural growth in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. By the same token, we call on both sides to cease all acts of hostility and attacks. In particular, Palestine must halt the indiscriminate launching of rockets on Israeli civilians, while Israel must desist from the use of disproportionate force against Palestinian civilians.
We welcome the intensified efforts of the Quartet, the Arab League and other members involved in brokering peace in the Middle East. We are mindful of the fact that the quest for peace in the Middle East should be the responsibility of all of us. We express our solidarity with the people of Palestine. At the same time, we reiterate the inviolability and, indeed, the right to exist of the State of Israel.
The President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Mr. Sisoulith (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) ( spoke in Lao; English interpretation provided by the delegation ): ...
Despite the fact that peace, development and cooperation are the lodestars of our times, tensions, conflicts, violence, terrorism and threats to security persist in various parts of the world. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is deeply dismayed by the prolonged conflict in the Middle East, which continues to inflict immense suffering on millions of people in the region, in particular the Palestinian people, who have been struggling to exercise their legitimate and inalienable rights to self-determination and statehood. Although we have heard in the course of our general debate many expressions of encouragement and renewed hope for addressing the Middle East problem, this can be realized only if all parties concerned demonstrate their commitment to addressing the impasse with a view to realizing the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.
The President (spoke in Arabic ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Mr. Aboul Gheit (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
The situation in the Middle East region is still dominated by considerable tension, a tendency towards confrontation and lack of stability. Notwithstanding the tireless efforts exerted to stabilize the situation, many parties still consider it beneficial to exacerbate that tension.
The question of Palestine clearly remains far from being resolved, despite international concern and all the serious efforts, pressure, contacts, visits and meetings. Since I questioned in this Assembly last year (see A/63/PV.13) the existence of genuine Israeli determination to achieve a just peace with the Palestinians, events have thus far justified our scepticism.
Throughout this year, Israel has shown a lack of the political will necessary to engage in serious and credible negotiations that aim at reaching a final settlement to the conflict, a settlement which encompasses all the elements, tracks and topics and which leads to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the complete Palestinian national territory, occupied since 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
In this respect, I would like to sum up the Egyptian view of the situation with the following elements, including what we hope to achieve.
First, intensive work during the coming period is necessary in order to resume the negotiating process as soon as possible. The international community should put forward a formula for a final settlement to the conflict — the so-called end game — cognizant of the need to waste no more time in studying details that everyone knows will not help to realize the desired settlement.
Secondly, Israel’s commitment to completely freeze settlement activity in all occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, must be secured, not only because such activity is contrary to international law and should be halted, but also in order to build a climate of trust between the two parties, thus allowing final-status negotiations to bear fruit. Such Israeli commitment would pave the way to restoring lost credibility in efforts to achieve peace. On the other hand, any retreat from that commitment would inflict severe harm on the prospects for peace in the coming period.
Thirdly, the freeze of Israeli settlement activity should occur simultaneously and in parallel with the negotiations, in order to bolster Palestinian trust in Israeli intentions.
Fourthly, if an agreement is reached on the final borders of the State to be established on the Palestinian national soil occupied in 1967, on the understanding that the State’s borders are essentially those of 1967, as had been agreed by both parties during the 2008 negotiations with the participation of the United States, that agreement could be gradually implemented at a pace to be agreed upon by both parties and within a time-bound framework.
Fifthly, East Jerusalem is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories. As one of the issues to be included in final status negotiations, it should under no circumstances be excluded from any future negotiations.
Sixthly, Israel’s engagement in a serious, credible, clear and time-bound negotiating process would restore the situation on other issues to that which prevailed in the 1990s in terms of Arab interaction with Israel, with a view to enhancing mutual trust and thus boosting negotiating efforts as a whole.
In conclusion, the fifteenth Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 15 and 16 July 2009, adopted four main declarations. The first is the Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration, which contains our member States’ clear vision on the most critical current issues that constitute a priority for our work within the United Nations. These include in particular the issues of disarmament and international security, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, human rights and democracy, the right of peoples to self-determination, the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian question, the reform of the United Nations, unilateral sanctions, the global financial and economic crisis, internationally agreed development goals, food security, Africa’s special needs, diseases and pandemics, the role of civil society, climate change, energy, human trafficking, international terrorism and dialogue among civilizations and religions. The second declaration is on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba. The third is on designating 18 July as International Nelson Mandela Day. The fourth is a declaration on Palestine. These declaratio ns will be issued as official documents of the United Nations.
The President (spoke in Arabic ): I now give the floor to Mr. Nasser Judeh, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Mr. Judeh (Jordan) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
Among the major achievements of the United Nations is its pioneering role in seeking to eliminate colonization and occupation in order to ensure the right of all peoples to self-determination. Although the Organization has assumed ongoing responsibility for the question of Palestine, Israel has, unfortunately, been occupying Palestinian and Arab territories since 1967 to prevent the Palestinian people from exercising their right to self-determination by creating an independent State on their national soil in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the basis of the line of 4 June 1967. Israel continues also to occupy the Syrian Golan and some Lebanese territory. For their part, the Arabs adopted the Arab Peace Initiative at the 2002 Beirut Summit and have reaffirmed its principles at all subsequent Arab summits, including that held in Doha last spring.
Discussions continue on the two-State solution and on a comprehensive peace, which would permit the establishment of an independent Palestinian State and enable Syria and Lebanon to recover their occupied territories. That would provide a just and agreed solution to the question of Palestinian refugees in accordance with the provisions of resolution 194 (III), which would ensure peace and security, with recognition of Israel by all Arab States. Israel continues to reject the Arab and international option of a just and comprehensive peace and a two-State solution under the international terms of reference and the Arab Peace Initiative. Therefore, a good-faith response reflecting genuine and positive political will must be forthcoming.
There has been unprecedented support in the international community — including in the Arab world and among the Palestinians — for the considerable and sincere efforts being made by United States President Barack Obama and his Administration with a view to the holding of serious negotiations leading to the two-State solution and the establishment of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, which would be in the interest of the United States, Palestine, the Arabs, the Israelis and the entire world. We in Jordan, under the auspices of His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Al Hussein, son of His late Majesty King Hussein, continue to strive tirelessly to attain that noble objective, which our people deserve.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan fully supports the statement made by United States President Barack Obama on 23 September (see A/64/PV.3). It provided a clear vision of a definitive solution and of terms of reference that would end the 1967 Israeli occupation in order to permit the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian State with contiguous territory, living side by side in peace and security with Israel, and achieve peace among Syria, Lebanon and Israel. With regard to the political terms of reference for negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, President Obama stated that the final-status issues of security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees and Jerusalem were key to successful negotiations. We appreciate the importance of his comments regarding the illegality of the settlements.
Thus, President Obama has demonstrated his firm commitment to a two-State solution and a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Since his first day in office, he has continued to seek to create a constructive atmosphere conducive to the swift resumption of serious negotiations, on all issues and on all tracks.
The international community as a whole must also shoulder its responsibility to ensure the swift resumption of negotiations and their success. In that connection, I wish to express our appreciation and full support to His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas for his commitment to peace based on genuine partnership, fundamental Palestinian and Arab principles and the international framework, as well as his sincere engagement on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in all efforts to achieve a two-State solution, which was demonstrated once again at the tripartite meeting organized by President Obama in New York at the beginning of this week.
This constructive and appropriate atmosphere has been marred by the actions of Israel, which refuses to halt its settlement activities, including in occupied East Jerusalem, where it continues to take unilateral action. Its excavations continue under and around the Al-Aqsa mosque and other areas that are part of the Islamic and Christian cultural heritage. It continues to demolish the homes of Arabs and to expel them. Israel is doing this in order to alter the demographic character of East Jerusalem, which has an Arab religious and historical identity. It is at the heart of the occupied territories and is inextricable from them. The Security Council and the General Assembly have declared those Israeli actions null and void.
From this rostrum today, we ask Israel to return to the peace process that everyone supports and to put an end to its illegal measures, including its settlement activities, in order to create an atmosphere conducive to the resumption of serious and productive peace negotiations on all tracks, in particular on such issues as monitoring mechanisms that include clear timetables and benchmarks for assessing the status of mutual implementation once negotiations have ended.
There can be no doubt that the United Nations has a direct role and an obligation in this regard, given its permanent responsibility for the question of Palestine, alongside the role of the Quartet, which we fully support. The Organization could also play a bigger part in the negotiations and verification mechanisms, as well as on other crucial issues.
We reaffirm the importance of the role of the members of the Quartet — the European Union, the Russian Federation, the United States and the United Nations. The blockade on Gaza must be lifted. Every day, our people there are suffering tragically, and they lack basic commodities. It is unacceptable and unreasonable that the siege should continue and the situation persist. The inhumane blockade must be ended and Gaza must be rehabilitated.
We hope that Palestinian reconciliation efforts are successful, and we fully support Egypt’s efforts in that regard. We should pay particular attention to the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (A/HRC/12/48), and we hope that it will promote the necessary follow-up.
I would like to reiterate that we will do what is necessary, and more, to strengthen multilateral international action for efforts to implement a two-State solution and to achieve comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and for anything that contributes to international cooperation and to bringing together diverse civilizations, which would enrich the lives of our societies in the world that we share.
The President (spoke in Arabic ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Taib Fassi Fihri, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Morocco.
Mr. Fihri (spoke in Arabic ): ...
Convinced that the peace process is the only viable option in the Middle East, the Kingdom of Morocco has participated constructively and responsibly in all efforts of the international community to relaunch the peace process on solid foundations. That means that the process must be in accordance with resolutions of international legality, the previous relevant agreements and commitments among the parties concerned, and the Arab Peace Initiative, which as a realistic option reflects the collective Arab will to arrive at a just and comprehensive solution that guarantees the right of the Palestinian people to create their own independent State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories, including Syrian and Lebanese territories, and a stable, secure and peaceful existence for all peoples of the region.
The Kingdom of Morocco expresses its appreciation to the United States Administration for its efforts and for the encouraging positions taken by President Obama. We hope that it will persevere in order to overcome obstacles to a resumption of negotiations. We also commend all other international efforts, including European efforts, to that end.
Those efforts will be productive only if Israel halts its illegal practices, which prevent the achievement of peace. Those practices, in particular the building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and the unjust blockade against our brotherly Palestinian people, run counter to the peace option. The settlement activities and the expulsions taking place in Al-Quds, aimed at altering the legal and demographic status of that holy city, are flagrant violations of international instruments and require urgent action on the part of all peace-loving countries.
In that regard, His Majesty Mohammed VI, in his capacity as Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, has always warned the international community against the risks associated with altering the legal status of Al-Quds. He has also been urging the influential international Powers to swiftly implement the requirements of international legitimacy in order to preserve the religious, cultural and spiritual features of the holy city in such a way as to create appropriate conditions conducive to the resumption of the peace process.
The meeting rose at 2.55 p.m.
This record contain s the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room U-506. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.