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15th plenary meeting
Thursday, 21 September 2006, 3 p.m.
The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
Address by Mr. Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, President of the Union of the Comoros
The President : On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, President of the Union of the Comoros, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Sambi (spoke in French ): ...
I would be remiss if I did not also touch on the major global issues that we face. The situation in the Middle East remains critical. The conflict that occurred in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah deeply hurt us in our flesh and in our hearts. Once again, we question the grounds for waging that war, the reasons for the destruction of economic infrastructure in that brother country, and finally the loss of thousands of lives. My country deeply deplores the shedding of innocent blood in Lebanon and in the Middle East. Why is there so much violence? Why is there so much suffering? Why is there so much inhumanity?
What is there to say about the situation in Palestine where the same scenario persists with its toll of martyrs, children and women who are victims of blind bombing? It is high time for the international community, working within the framework of the United Nations, to respond and to put an end to that conflict by ensuring that a negotiated solution is reached promptly.
The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Wade (spoke in French ): ...
The Palestinian people, too, are victims of injustice, depriving them of a legitimate right to a viable, free and independent State. History teaches us that war, despite its long list of innocent victims and the toll it takes on civilian infrastructure — bitter experiences recently relived by the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine — will never overcome a people’s will if it aspires to take its rightful place in the community of free nations. The right to freedom and independence is part of the destiny of peoples. Its attainment can be delayed by historic circumstances, but destiny will always be achieved. It is better to understand this in time than to regret it too late.
As Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Senegal will continue to ensure that the Organization continues its efforts towards a negotiated, just and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict so that all of the suffering peoples of the region can finally live in peaceful coexistence.
The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Adamkus: ...
The tragic events in the Middle East over the past 12 months have vividly demonstrated the human and financial costs of inability to reach compromises and final solutions regarding problems that have divided societies and poisoned the region for long years. Thus, the effective promotion of a comprehensive peace plan in the Middle East is topical as never before. Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and major donor conferences offer hope for the development of a sovereign and strong Lebanon. Let us make this a reality by pooling our efforts and contributing to this cause today, not tomorrow. The two States of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace is our goal.
Agenda item 8 ( continued)
The Acting President: I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Mr. Albert Pintat, Head of Government of the Principality of Andorra, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Pintat (Andorra) (spoke in Catalan: English text provided by the delegation ): ...
In the Middle East, we recognize the need for Israel’s security, as we recognize the need for Palestine to become a viable State.
The Acting President: I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency The Right Honourable Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Mosisili (Lesotho):...
We express our solidarity with the peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara in their struggle for self-determination and their quest for everlasting peace. Surely, things do not have to deteriorate to the level of the Israel-Lebanon conflict before the international community snaps into action in these two volatile situations.
The Acting President : I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Mr. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Independent State of Samoa, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Malielegaoi (Samoa): ...
The Middle East conflict continues to defy attempts to usher in a new era of trust and hopeful beginnings for the region. Sustainable peace remains an elusive goal, permanently out of our Organization’s reach as long as the root causes of the problem are not addressed. Too much is at stake.
Let us not forget the voiceless majority, unwillingly caught in the crossfire of the conflict, who yearn for a lasting peace. We should, therefore, not be judgmental or partisan in our approach. Ultimately, the Palestinian people need a permanent and an independent State, living in peace, with a secure Israel. The Security Council, by responding decisively to recent developments in the Lebanon-Israel conflict, gives us hope that perhaps an eventual resolution of that long drawn-out conflict is finally within sight.
The Acting President: I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Mr. Robert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, and I invite him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Fico (Slovak Republic): ...
Slovakia is concerned about the current situation in the Middle East, in particular in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. We firmly believe that there is no military solution to the Middle East conflict. The only way to achieve a comprehensive and lasting settlement is through peaceful negotiations and full implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions, as well as the principles defined by the Quartet. Also, only through negotiations and further diplomatic efforts can we fulfil the vision of two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. New efforts must be undertaken to revive the peace process based on full respect for principles defined by the Quartet in the adopted road map.
The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon (Republic of Korea): ...
The undiminished human suffering in Palestine remains another source of deep concern. We urge the early revival of the stalled peace process.
The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
Mr. Lavrov (Russian Federation) (spoke in Russian): ...
A comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict remains a central task for the world community. Many of today’s threats have come together in that region, and the key to resolving them is most often to be found there. In that connection, I should first like to mention the truly global challenge posed by the need to prevent a schism between civilizations.
We welcome the emerging prospects for a national agreement in the Palestinian territories, as well as for the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli talks. It is important to continue to encourage the parties to meet their respective obligations, with the clear understanding that any progress towards the objectives set out by the international community will inevitably be gradual and that any attempt to act in an all-or-nothing spirit will be counterproductive and could once again plunge the region into confrontation.
The recent war in Lebanon demonstrated the great fragility of the situation in the Middle East and the acute need for a comprehensive approach along all tracks. That presupposes the involvement of all countries and parties. Without their participation it will be impossible to reach any viable negotiated solution. It is also clear that the road to comprehensive peace will not be an easy one, but now is the time. The initiative of the League of Arab States to convene an international conference should contribute to finding the proper framework for that undertaking. The Quartet of international mediators should also make a key contribution to the process.
The Acting President : It gives me particular pleasure to give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Bernard Rudolf Bot, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
Mr. Bot (Netherlands): ...
Regional peace also requires resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Israeli-Syrian dispute. I call upon all parties involved to seize the political momentum created by Council resolution 1701 (2006) and engage in serious dialogue. The Quartet could, at the request of the Security Council, outline a comprehensive Middle East settlement.
The Acting President: I now call on Her Excellency Ms. Ursula Plassnik, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria.
Ms. Plassnik (Austria): ...
In the Middle East, innocent civilians still suffer from the disastrous consequences of terror attacks and the indiscriminate use of force. Men, women and children on all sides must be given a real chance to live in peace and in an atmosphere of increasing mutual trust.
The goal that Austria pursues in its relations with the Middle East is to realize the vision of Palestinians and Israelis living side by side in security as neighbours in two States, working towards a peaceful and economically successful common future. We know that the path towards that goal is rocky, but now we have reached a turning point. In the aftermath of the armed conflict in Lebanon, all parties in the region have agreed on the need for renewed engagement on the part of the international community. The European Union and its member States can and will make a substantive contribution.
However, international efforts can only support — not serve as a substitute for — efforts by Israel and the Palestinians. That is why we welcome the efforts of President Abbas to form a Government of national unity in the Palestinian territories and the recent high-level, direct contacts. Yesterday’s statement by the Middle East Quartet — in which the United Nations plays such a central role — is another encouraging signal. We hope that those decisions will help to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian people and to move the political process forward.
Austria is convinced that the work of the Middle East Quartet should now pave the way towards a major peace initiative. We see great merit in an international Middle East conference along the lines of the 1991 Madrid Conference. We believe that such a forum should be open to regional partners willing to participate constructively in search of a comprehensive peace settlement. A conference of that kind could also examine the longer-term potential for regional security arrangements.
The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Miguel Angel Moratinos Cuyaubé, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain.
Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé (Spain) (spoke in Spanish): ...
From this rostrum, I call for a coalition for peace. This is not about rediscovering the Mediterranean; it is about commitment. We must say “yes” to the creation o From this rostrum, I call for a coalition for peace. This is not about rediscovering the Mediterranean; it is about commitment. We must say “yes” to the creation of a democratic, viable and peaceful Palestinian State that lives in peace and security with the State of Israel; “yes” to full support for President Mahmoud Abbas; “yes” to ending the violence and terror against Israel; “yes” to reactivating the Madrid Process, which began 15 years ago; “yes” to a global peace that includes Syria and Lebanon; and, finally, “yes” to an end to this tragedy.
The President (spoke in Arabic ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt.
Mr. Aboul Gheit (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
The Arab-Israeli conflict has squandered the resources and lives of the people of the Middle East for many decades. In it, political, historical and religious dimensions have fermented into a combustible mix that carries the seeds of a conflagration that could go beyond the region and reflect negatively on stability and relations between the various cultures and faiths in the world. Hence the importance for all of us, citizens of the region and members of the international community, to act in concert to reach an immediate, just and comprehensive solution to this conflict.
In its endeavours to achieve comprehensive peace between the Arab world and Israel, Egypt precedes from a realistic vision of the events on the ground. In this context, Egypt is exerting efforts to improve the security situation between the Palestinians and the Israelis through direct engagement with both parties, with the aim of calming the situation, putting an end to all acts of violence, killing and destruction and encouraging confidence-building measures between the Palestinians and the Israelis aimed at resuming dialogue and negotiations. At the same time, Egypt seeks to resume progress on the three tracks of the settlement of the Arab Israeli conflict. This is the main objective of the peace process, which has regrettably been stalled for years. The deterioration in the security situation must not make us lose sight of that objective. Experience has proven time and again that the success of security measures will remain limited and fragile if they are not made part of a wider political framework that would ensure the basic rights of the parties and encourage them to make the difficult decisions necessary for the improvement of the security situation.
The Quartet has drawn up a road map for peace. It was accepted by the parties and the States of the region. It was endorsed by resolution 1515 (2003) of the Security Council. It was hoped that it would constitute the political framework to which I referred earlier. However, this did not happen, for reasons that I will not list here. Yet, the road map remains a cornerstone for the achievement of peace in the region, since it establishes the principles of peaceful co-existence between Israel and Palestine and determines the general parameters of the final settlement between Israel, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon — namely, an end to the occupation that started in 1967, implementation of the international resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and implementation of the Arab peace initiative that would ensure security, peace and recognition for Israel by its Arab neighbours in return for Israel’s ending its occupation of the Arab territories and working out acceptable solutions for other pending issues. There is now a need to build upon this cornerstone in order to create an effective political framework that would move the parties towards the objective desired by the international community as a whole — namely, the establishment of a comprehensive peace that would put an end to occupation and strife in this part of the world.
The President (spoke in Arabic ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Moctar Ouane, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali.
Mr. Ouane (Mali) (spoke in French ): ...
The recent outbreak of violence in the Middle East recalls — as if there were any need to do so — the necessity for the international community to take appropriate measures to create conditions conducive to a lasting, negotiated and peaceful settlement to that crisis. While reaffirming our active solidarity with the people of Lebanon and Palestine, we are closely following developments in that region and will continue to support relevant United Nations resolutions on the Middle East and the Palestinian question.
The Acting President : I now give the floor to Her Excellency Ms. Aïchatou Mindaoudou, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of the Republic of Niger.
Ms. Mindaoudou (Niger) (spoke in French ): ...
The situation in the Middle East — especially in Lebanon, which has held the attention of the international community over recent weeks — proves, if proof were needed, that the United Nations is still the prime forum for promoting negotiations on preserving international peace and security.
The same degree of attention should be paid to the resurgence of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. The establishment of a comprehensive peace in the subregion involves going back to the negotiating table in order to make progress in implementing the road map towards the creation of a sovereign and viable Palestinian State, in conformity with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.
The Acting President : I now give the floor to Mr. João Bernardo de Miranda, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola.
Mr. Miranda (Angola) (spoke in Portuguese; English text provided by the delegation ): ...
In the Middle East, the continuing violence is rendering ineffective any blueprints for peace aimed at resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Angola supports the right to existence of all States in the area as well as their right to live in peace with their neighbours. It is important to return to a process aimed at the peaceful resolution of the conflict — a process based on the road map for peace — in order to arrive at a comprehensive solution leading to regional stabilization.
The Acting President: The Assembly will now hear a statement by His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority.
Mr. Abbas (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic) : I would like to start by congratulating Ms. Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa on her election to preside over this session and to wish her success in achieving the objectives of the United Nations, which are accepted by all nations of the world, which believe that the Organization was created to safeguard international peace, human rights, and the right of peoples to self-determination. Indeed, as President Woodrow Wilson said in his first inaugural address:
“Nowhere else in the world have noble men and women exhibited in more striking forms the beauty and the energy of sympathy and helpfulness and counsel in their efforts to rectify wrong, alleviate suffering, and set the weak in the way of strength and hope.”
I hope, therefore, that this session will promote cooperation between nations and peoples in pursuit of their common interests, namely the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, which form the basis for membership in this Organization.
We must commend highly the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, for the effective role he has played and the considerable efforts he has deployed, as well as for his wise leadership in enhancing the United Nations and reinvigorating its role. We also commend him in particular for his efforts in respect of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the core of which is the question of Palestine.
Only a few weeks ago, the fires of war stopped raging in Lebanon. Despite the gravity of the losses, the destruction and the tragedy, the international community expeditiously, effectively and successfully intervened to put an end to the war and to provide support to the people and the legitimate Government of Lebanon in order to safeguard its security and independence and to put an end to the era of wars on its land. I commend the role played by the international community, and I hope that that positive and effective intervention will be extended, politically and practically, so as to resolve the root causes of all the conflicts and wars that have plagued our region for many decades.
Indeed, I need not reconfirm the fact that, after the experiences of war and suffering that we have been through, unless the question of Palestine and that of the continuing occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands since 1967 is resolved, the elements of tension and conflagration will keep the conflict alive and leave the door wide open to all forms of violence, terrorism, regional confrontations and global crises.
It is unfortunate today to see that international plans and initiatives, foremost among them the road map, which was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, have reached a state of stagnation, even regression. Calls for the resumption of negotiations are faced with preconditions. Despair and frustration thrive in the midst of the roar of the bulldozers that are preparing for the construction of illegal settlements, changes in the demographic nature of Jerusalem and erection of an apartheid separation wall inside our occupied land and between its various parts. They thrive on the continuation of the frightful siege, through military checkpoints that have turned our cities and provinces into reservations, on the continuous saga of killings and assassinations that have claimed hundreds of civilian lives, on the demolitions of homes and on the ongoing arrests of more than 8,000 Palestinians, including parliamentarians and cabinet ministers. Some of the detained have been languishing for three decades, and their release and freedom are still eagerly awaited by their families and their people.
Under such conditions, I can reasonably ask: how can the international community expect extremism to retreat or the waves of violence to ebb? How can we and all the forces of moderation and peace in our region forcefully intervene and convince our public opinion that there is hope on the horizon? Or that the option of dialogue, negotiation and international legitimacy — which is our strategic choice and the path which we relentlessly advocate and which we will never abandon — will be fruitful and has a real chance of success?
Living in the midst of this tragedy, I am not the only one who must answer this fundamental question. The whole international community, particularly influential Powers, is called upon to provide tangible evidence that it will support an unconditional resumption of negotiations and provide those negotiations with true international support to ensure their success through the cessation of settlement activity, collective punishment and separation walls. This would provide a positive atmosphere for relaunching the negotiations and reaching the objectives of a just peace based on a two-State solution, as called for by President George Bush of the United States of America. Such a solution must be based on international legitimacy, as stressed in the Arab Peace Initiative, through the establishment of the independent State of Palestine on the 4 June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and in reaching a just and agreed solution for the problem of the refugees — who constitute more than half of our Palestinian people — in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948.
Lately, we have heard from the Government of Israel that it will abandon its policy of unilateralism and one-sided actions. This is encouraging, provided that the alternative is not stagnation or the imposition of faits accomplis on the ground, but rather a return to the negotiating table and to reaching a comprehensive solution to all of the permanent status issues in order to ensure a secure future for our children and theirs.
Recently, in tandem with all the strands and persuasions of the Palestinian political spectrum, I have sought to establish a Government of national unity that is consistent with international and Arab legitimacy and that corresponds to the principles established by the Quartet. Based on our commitment to these criteria, I would like to reaffirm that any future Palestinian Government will commit to and abide by all the agreements that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority have committed to in the past, particularly the letters of mutual recognition dated 9 September 1993 exchanged between the two late, great leaders, Yasser Arafat and Itzhak Rabin. These two letters contain the mutual recognition by Israel and the PLO, the renunciation of violence and the adoption of negotiations as the path towards reaching a permanent solution leading to the establishment of the independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel.
Any future Government will commit to imposing security and order, to ending the phenomenon of multiple militias, lack of discipline or chaos, and will commit to the rule of law, since this is primarily a national Palestinian need. The efforts that we have exerted are for the sole purpose of establishing national unity that has real substance in order to achieve national Palestinian consensus around our national objectives, which comply with international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative and call for peaceful means for the realization of these objectives. When such a national consensus is reached and a new national unity Government has been established according to it, it must be viewed as a qualitative achievement — not a step backwards or a limited regression from the path to which we have always been determinedly committed — even in the face of the bleakest of conditions.
I would like to reiterate that negotiations with Israel have been and will remain under the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which I chair. The outcome of these negotiations will be presented to the Palestinian National Council, the highest Palestinian national body, or to a national public referendum.
What we have achieved in this regard should suffice to lift the unjust siege imposed on our people. That siege has inflicted extensive damage on our society, our livelihood and the means to our growth and progress.
Madam President, I come to you bearing the wounds of a people who are bleeding on a daily basis. We are a people who seeks normal life, where our children can go safely to school, where children are born to live, not die; where youth can find honourable and decent work that provides them with a dignified path to a secure future so that they can be partners in formulating their history, rather than be victims to the cruelty of history; where women give birth in hospitals, not at the checkpoints of the occupation; where families gather in the evening to dream of a new day, a day without killing, imprisonment or arrest.
I simply want tomorrow to be better than today. I want my homeland, Palestine, to be a homeland, rather than a prison — independent and sovereign, like homelands of all other peoples of this world. I want Jerusalem to be the point of convergence for the dialogue of all prophets and the capital of two States living side by side in peace and equality.
Thirty-two years ago, from this rostrum, the late President Yasser Arafat issued his famous and resounding call: “Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand” (A/PV.2282, para. 82). I now reiterate that call. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat: do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.
The meeting rose at 8.40 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other langu ages. 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-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.