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The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Address by Mr. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
The President: The Assembly will now hear an address by His Excellency Mr. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria and former President of the General Assembly.
Mr. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, was escorted into the General Assembly Hall.
The President : On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of the People’ s Democratic Republic of Algeria and former President of the General Assembly, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Bouteflika ( spoke in French ): ...
Because of the excesses committed by the Israeli occupiers, the international community has defined the conditions necessary to bring back a just and lasting peace in Palestine and in the Middle East. The conditions include the rejection of violence, the resumption of negotiations based on the principle of land for peace, and — a cardinal point — the confirmation of the right of the Palestinian people to establish a State within recognized and secure borders, and its corollary, two States — Palestinian and Israeli — living in peace, side by side.
The Beirut Arab initiative offered the outline for such a settlement, based on international law and the principle of land for peace.
That Arab initiative was welcomed by the United Nations and the co-sponsors of the peace process, and it breathed new life into a peace process that had been languishing. Algeria, today as in the past, stands side by side with the Palestinian people in their exemplary struggle for freedom and dignity, which can succeed only when the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people are recognized, including its right to the establishment of an independent State, with Al-Quds as its capital, and a complete Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since 1967. That is the only way to bring peace, stability and security back to the sensitive region of the Middle East.
Agenda item 9(continued)
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Halldór Ásgrí msson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland.
Mr. Ásgrímsson (Iceland): ...
In a recent visit to the Middle East, my belief was confirmed that there must be a much stronger involvement of the international community in the Middle East and involvement of third parties in the efforts to resolve the dispute there. In this regard, Iceland fully supports the efforts of the Quartet, as well as the Saudi proposals. Negotiations on a political settlement must resume; they must not be held hostage to the situation on the ground. Only a comprehensive peace agreement dealing with all aspects of the dispute will guarantee security and prosperity for both Israelis and Palestinians.
The occupation of the Palestinian territories must end, in line with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). Iceland strongly supports the two-States solution. Israel and Palestine must live side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders.
Until a peace agreement has been reached, both parties have to play by certain rules. The sanctity of the lives of innocent civilians has to be respected under all circumstances. This means that the Palestinian Authority must reform itself to deal effectively with terror and pave the way for the establishment of a democratic and accountable Palestinian State. Israel also has to respect international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. The circumstances on the ground have to change for the better. Otherwise, there is a real danger that the worsening of the economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territories could lead to a humanitarian disaster.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic ): I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Tonino Picula, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Croatia.
Mr. Tonino Picula (Croatia): ...
Furthermore, Croatia believes that efforts should be intensified to resolve regional conflicts that offer fertile ground for recruiting terrorists. The cycle of violence in the Middle East must end. Parties to the conflict must return to the negotiating table and make a reality of the vision of two peoples living in peace within secure and recognized State borders.
The President: I now give the floor to Her Excellency Ms. Ana Palacio, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain.
Ms. Palacio (Spain) ( spoke in Spanish ): ...
In spite of these encouraging results, underdevelopment, poverty, the existence of weapons of mass destruction and regional crises — in particular the crisis in the Middle East — constitute some of the outstanding tasks before us. Allow me briefly to review these issues in order, in the words of Pablo Neruda, “not to fill our hearts with salt, but to walk in knowledge.”
The citizens of our States fail to understand why some regional crisis continue indefinitely, causing despair among the peoples who suffer from them and generating a sense of injustice that fuels hatred and bitterness. Encouraging progress has undoubtedly been made, especially in Africa, and we spoke of that progress yesterday. But the Middle East crisis continues to be in all our minds.
Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), and 1397 (2002), the principles of the Madrid Conference and the agreements between the parties have established a framework for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. How many Palestinians and Israelis will still have to die and how many international resolutions will we need before Palestine and Israel can live together as States in peace and mutual respect? It is necessary to complete the peace process; that is the goal of the negotiating efforts of the Quartet, which Spain supports.
The President : I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Mikhail Khvostov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus.
Mr. Khvostov (Belarus) ( spoke in Russian): ...
Peace, security and stability are prerequisites to sustainable development. But this past year has shown that international peace and security are still fragile. We witnessed a sharp escalation of confrontation in the Middle East. This region could become the centre of a dangerous collision between civilizations.
The Middle East Quartet, with the participation of the United Nations, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States, inspires some optimism from the standpoint of the understanding reached by all participants in the peace process that two independent states — Israel and Palestine — have to coexist. This understanding is enshrined in legally binding documents of the United Nations. Gradually taking steps to mutual reconciliation through continuous dialogue between the parties involved will help, and the United Nations must be active here.
The President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Dah Ould Abdi, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mauritania.
Mr. Abdi (Mauritania) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
In order to achieve peace and security, the United Nations must play an ever-larger part to strengthen international law. We noted the sustained efforts and the repeated calls for peace in the Middle East. We believe the Arab countries’ initiative adopted at the Beirut Summit offers the ideal framework for comprehensive and lasting peace that will ensure progress and prosperity for all peoples in the region. We noted with great interest the vision of the President of the United States of America, Mr. George Bush, who spoke of the need for the coexistence of two independent States, Palestine and Israel, and efforts by the Quartet and the European Union with a view to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital. This play is pursuant to the terms of reference of Madrid and the land-for-peace principle and is also in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978). We reiterate the need for an immediate Israeli withdrawal from all territories of the Palestinian Authority, an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people and the immediate resumption of peace negotiations. This is the only way to have peace and security in the Middle East.
The President : I now call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Worship of Argentina, His Excellency Mr. Carlos Ruckauf.
Mr. Ruckauf (Argentina) (spoke in Spanish): ...
The promising events related to the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) that we discussed yesterday, contrast with the worsening situation in the Middle East. The Argentine Government is following with pain and great concern the acts of violence in that region. We are convinced that no possible solution will result from the indiscriminate and brutal use of force through deliberate assassinations or through terrorist attacks against civilians. The only road to peace and stability is through dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Therefore we reiterate our position in support of the renewal of negotiations between the parties with the hope for coming to a peaceful, fair and definitive solution to the conflict. This should include the recognition of the undeniable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to form an independent State, as well as the legitimate right of Israel to live within secure and internationally recognized borders. At present, there are several plans for peace in addition to the efforts on the part of the Quartet. All of these initiatives deserve our urgent attention.
The President : I next give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Chairman of the delegation of Qatar.
Mr. Al-Nasser (Qatar): ...
We cannot accept that the people of Palestine and the Arab people in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and in the south of Lebanon are falling prey to the barbaric aggression of the Israeli occupation forces before the eyes of the whole world and world public opinion. Israel violates the resolutions of international law, rejecting them without any reaction from the Security Council or any organs of the United Nations to put an end to it.
We observe closely and with concern the deteriorating security situation in the Palestinian territories and the blatant challenge to the international community and international laws and norms posed by the siege of President Arafat and the legitimate, elected leadership of the Palestinian people. We observe with concern the assassination, abduction and arrest of Palestinian leaders, as well as the demolition of houses on the heads of women, children and the elderly. We watch closely and with concern the attacks on holy places, which have been condemned by all states and representatives of international humanitarian organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, which strongly deplored and condemned those attacks.
The actions of Israeli forces in Jenin and Gaza and the massacres perpetrated there constitute blatant violations of modern international humanitarian law, international human rights and international conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949. If it really intends to achieve security, Israel must take the route of peace by implementing the resolutions of international law: the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. They all provide for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to achieve their legitimate national aspirations, including self-determination and the establishment of an independent State on its national territory with East Jerusalem as its capital. Those resolutions also call for the withdrawal from the occupied Syrian territory of the Golan to the line of 4 June 1967, as well as from the rest of occupied Lebanese territory.
The meeting rose at 1 p.m.
This record contains 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 C-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.