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The meeting was called to order at 9.05 a.m.
Agenda item 9 (continued)
The President : I now give the floor to Her Excellency Mrs. María Eugenia Brizuela de Ávila, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador.
Mrs. Brizuela de Ávila (El Salvador) (spoke in Spanish ):
With respect to other sensitive issues for the international community, the Government of El Salvador views with concern the continuation or worsening of certain problems that, if not resolved, will be a threat to international peace and security. These include the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, which is a source of great concern, especially because during the past year we have seen unremitting violence, leading to the irreparable loss of human life and material and economic damage in the region, and to a constant increase in the suffering of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
In that context, the Government of El Salvador reiterates its support for all efforts and measures aimed at achieving a negotiated political solution that takes into account the interests of the parties directly involved, in order to achieve a firm and lasting peace. The State of Israel’s right to exist and to live within secure borders, as well as the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to establish its own State, are basic preconditions for achieving peace, which will enable the leaders of the region to devote themselves to promoting the progress and well-being of their peoples.
The President : I now give the floor to His Excellency The Honourable Mr. Ram Sharan Mahat, Minister for Finance of Nepal.
Mr. Mahat (Nepal):
In particular, we will have to end the cycle of violence and death in the Middle East by finding a durable solution to its festering problem. The war on terror and the restoration of stability will succeed in Afghanistan if its people are saved from starvation and unwarranted hardship now and assured of their country’s reconstruction when the struggle is over.
The President : I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Mr. Lengsavad (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) (spoke in Lao; English text provided by the delegation):
The situation in the Middle East has recently reached levels of increased violence, causing loss of life, destruction, damage to property and deep sorrow and a desire for revenge among both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic reaffirms its support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State and for respect for Israel’s right to existence. That would contribute to guaranteeing long-lasting peace and security in the Middle East.
The President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Rodolphe Adada, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Francophonie of the Congo.
Mr. Adada (Congo) (spoke in French):
Given the continuing violence in the Middle East, a return to the Oslo accords is urgently required if the current deadlock is to be broken. We appeal to the parties in conflict to show a willingness to move forward so as to re-establish a dialogue, which remains the only way to restore lasting peace in an area of the world that has been troubled for far too long. We therefore welcome the constructive proposals made by the President of the United States of America, His Excellency George W. Bush, on the coexistence of two States, Israel and Palestine, within secure and recognized borders, as required by Security Council resolutions.
The President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chad.
Mr. Annadif (Chad) (spoke in French):
In the Middle East, it is time for the tragedy of the Palestinian people, which has lasted for more than half a century, to be brought to a peaceful, fair and lasting conclusion. It is more urgent and necessary than ever for pressure of all kinds to be brought to bear on the State of Israel to induce it to fulfil the terms of the resolutions adopted by the Security Council on the Palestinian question, in particular resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). The credibility of the international community depends on the ability of the Palestinians to enjoy all their rights, including the right to an independent and sovereign State.
The President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Naji Sabri, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq.
Mr. Sabri (Iraq) (spoke in Arabic):
The organized terrorism to which the people of Palestine are being subjected by the Zionist entity, the founder and primary source of terrorism, can be seen in the bombing of towns, villages, camps and Islamic and Christian houses of worship, as well as in political assassinations, imposition of collective punishments, occupation of Muslim holy sites, use of depleted uranium ammunitions and poison gases, bulldozing of farms and confiscation of lands.
The President : I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Farouk Al-Shara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Mr. Al-Shara (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic):
International terrorism is not a new phenomenon. Syria and other Arab countries have also been victims of terrorism. For years we have called upon the international community to condemn all types of terrorism, especially the State terrorism practised by Israel. In this context, I would like to refer to the values of tolerance that have distinguished our region throughout history. Our region had never known the phenomenon of terrorism until after Israel was created on the basis of religion, in 1948, supported by the efforts of such well-known terrorist organizations as the Irgun, Tzioni, the Stern gang, the Lehy and the Haganah, which were responsible for sowing the seeds of terrorism and fear in Palestine and outside it.
Israel has invented new types of terrorist practices in order to continue its occupation of Arab territories. It expelled Palestinians from their homes and lands and perpetrated numerous massacres, beginning with the massacre of Deir Yassin in 1948, to that of Beit Reima just a few weeks ago. But despite that, it has not been held accountable for these crimes. The Palestinian people have, therefore, had no alternative in their struggle to rid themselves of their state of frustration, despair and international disregard for their plight but to start one uprising after another as a way to liberate their lands from occupation and to restore their dignity like any other people in the world.
What is both odd and surprising is that whenever Palestinian refugees and their organizations residing in Syria are mentioned, the United States describes them as terrorist organizations and considers the country that hosts them as one that sponsors terrorism. It ignores the fact that Israel was completely responsible for uprooting those Palestinians from their homes, expelling them from their homeland and denying them, up until this very moment, their right of return in accordance with General Assembly resolution 194 (III). Regrettably, there are some countries and certain media outlets that believe those claims and describe those Palestinian organizations as terrorist. They do not stop there, but extend that allegation to Syria as well, instead of condemning Israel and expressing appreciation to Syria for hosting about 500,000 Palestinian refugees and offering them work, security and a dignified life.
But in any case the request on the part of Israel and those who support it to have these Palestinian refugees and their organizations expelled from Syria raises the very important question of where those refugees should go. The natural and human answer says that they should go back to their country, Palestine. They are more entitled to go back to their homes than the million Russian Jews who were brought in by Israel during the last 10 years. They are also more entitled than another 1 million Jews that the head of the Israeli Government plans to bring into Israel, although they live well and securely in their countries. Although the rulers of Israel claim that the Palestinians have no place in their towns and villages and that the return of Palestinians threatens the existence of Israel, the truth is that the return of Palestinian refugees will alleviate racism in Israel and will not threaten its existence.
During its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 Israel perpetrated the ugliest of crimes when it shelled and besieged Beirut for over 80 days, during which time thousands of innocent Lebanese civilians were killed, the infrastructure of Lebanon was destroyed and many horrific massacres were perpetrated. Those massacres included the atrocities at Sabra and Shatila, which the entire world witnessed and is aware of.
Faced with Israeli arrogance, the failure of the international community to stop Israel from perpetrating its crimes, and the provision of Israel with the latest American warplanes and the most destructive and sophisticated weapons, the Lebanese people had no choice but to stand fast and resist occupation. This resistance continued until it achieved its most important victory in May 2000, when it forced the Israeli occupying forces to abandon most Lebanese territories. No one in the world should forget that the battles of the Lebanese resistance were fought on the occupied territories of Lebanon against occupying Israeli soldiers and that this resistance did not act beyond Lebanese borders and did not hurt Israeli civilians during the 20 years of occupation, whereas the occupying Israeli forces killed thousands of Lebanese civilians, not to mention their repeated destruction of hundreds of houses and much of the Lebanese infrastructure.
After all this, how could anyone fail to distinguish between terrorism and resistance? Anyone wishing to target terrorism in our region must target Israeli terrorism first and foremost, because what Israel does is the utmost form of terrorism; it is absolutely bereft of human compassion. There is no alternative but to address the root causes of this terrorism once and for all and uproot it from our modern life through the implementation of international legitimacy in order to restore rights, end injustice and occupation and grant the Palestinian people the right to self-determination freely and wholly.
These days mark the tenth anniversary of the convening of the Madrid Peace Conference, for which we made sincere efforts so it would create an opening for a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. The serious and purposeful negotiations that Syria has engaged in during recent years have shown two things to the international community: first, that Israel neither desires nor is serious about achieving a just and comprehensive peace in accordance with United Nations resolutions; secondly, that Syria has the right to recover its territory in the Golan to the border of 4 June 1967, without compromise. However, we were always faced with Israel’s intransigence, denial of rights, evasion of the real issues and of the requirements of peace. Indeed, Israel has done what its Prime Minister promised at the time: to make negotiations go in circles for 10 years, with all the dangerous repercussions and tragic results that would produce.
There is talk now about an opportunity for the resumption of the peace process according to the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference. We believe that unless the two sponsors of the peace process, the European Union and the United Nations, make a serious effort to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions, this opportunity will be wasted again, with all the dangerous repercussions that will hold for this important and sensitive region of the world.
The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Tuliameni Kalomoh, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Information and Broadcasting of Namibia.
Mr. Kalomoh (Namibia):
No people can maintain peace and security or build its prosperity on the helplessness and abject misery of others, particularly their neighbours. The people of Palestine and, indeed, the international community are crying out for the establishment of the Palestinian State. They are crying out for peace between Palestine and the State of Israel. It is now time to heed this call. The legitimate right of the people of Palestine to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State of their own cannot be denied and cannot be compromised. A Palestinian State will be in the best interests of Israel, of security and peace, of the entire Middle East and of the whole world. The basis for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East remains Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
The Acting President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Chairman of the delegation of Egypt.
Mr. Aboul Gheit (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic):
Allow me to read the statement that was to be delivered by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr. Ahmed Maher El Sayed, who, unfortunately, was unable to come to New York to participate in this important debate.
“We gather here under extremely sensitive circumstances born from injustice and violence. We must face them resolutely and boldly so as not to allow the forces of evil to overcome our aspirations, which cause us to gather here every year. Among the circumstances which I would like to highlight here today is, first, the continued denial of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to the establishment of their independent State on the territories occupied since June 1967, including East Jerusalem. ...
“I stand before this Assembly at the end of the first year of the third millennium, fully 10 years after the Madrid Conference which reaffirmed the basis for a settlement in the Middle East, and yet the Arab-Israeli conflict and the question of Palestine at its core still await a just and comprehensive settlement. That is truly hard to believe.
“It is most regrettable that the Syrian and Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 and parts of the territory of Lebanon continue to languish under the heavy yoke of Israeli occupation. That occupation continues to give rise to injustice, destruction, frustration and anger. Israel continues to refuse to comply with the terms of international legitimacy. It continues to defy the will of the world. This unjust situation takes us directly back to the dark ages which the United Nations was established to end, and creates suffering and agony for a people whose only crime is to demand their rights. It also creates an unhealthy climate exploited by those who wish to fish in troubled waters in order to propagate darkness, misery, chaos and pain.
“The international and regional situations, in addition to the humanitarian and legal requirements and interests of all peoples, can no longer tolerate the continued occupation, usurpation and settlement by Israel of the territories of others. They can no longer brook an army of hateful occupation using the most sophisticated and lethal weapons to brutalize unarmed civilians, demolish their homes and uproot their trees. All these actions are undertaken under a false pretext that disguises the fact that this army is only defending the occupation of the land of another people — the people of Palestine.
“Similarly, the international situation can no longer bear the declaration by an occupying Power that it will not return the land it has seized and that, if it should return any, it will do so under unfair conditions. Equally untenable is its position that peace can only mean its hegemony and control in one form or another. The announcement by a Government of its official decision to resort to a policy of targeted killings is also unacceptable.
“Like all nations and peoples, Israel must understand that the world has changed. It must realize that it is in its own interest to comply with the international will. The only guarantee for the security of Israel and of the whole region is for Israel to put an end to its occupation, policies and practices and to coexist with the peoples of the region on the basis of equality, understanding and respect for international legality and the resolutions of the United Nations. Security cannot be achieved with continued occupation. Peace is incompatible with the doctrines of hegemony and superiority. Free cooperation alone can ensure prosperity for all.
“Sometimes I feel that, while the Arabs have accepted Israel’s existence among them, Israel has not yet accepted the existence of a Palestinian people in the land of their ancestors, with the right to live in a sovereign, independent State with Arab Jerusalem as its capital. No Arab, Muslim or Christian can abandon their holy sites in Jerusalem. Those sites are constantly threatened by attempts to desecrate or destroy them by Israeli extremists, with the support of those ostensibly less extreme.
“A political settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, requires the following.
“First, Israel must demonstrate its clear will to abandon its continued occupation of Arab lands as an alleged means to maintain its security. Israel needs to understand that its position in the Middle East will not improve in any real sense until it evinces the resolve to return to the borders of 4 June 1967.
“Secondly, Israel must realize that any peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine requires the return of East Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty. Failure to understand this fact will always be an obstacle to all peaceful efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.
“Thirdly, any political or security arrangements for the settlement of the Palestinian question must lead to the establishment of a viable Palestinian State exercising sovereignty over its land, water and airspace. There must be a just settlement, based on United Nations resolutions and the norms of justice and legitimacy, of the oldest refugee problem in modern history, namely, that of Palestinian refugees.
“Fourthly, Egypt does not accept a situation in which Israel remains the sole nuclear Power in the Middle East. The Middle East must be a zone free from weapons of mass destruction. The countries of the world, particularly the five nuclear-weapon States, must shoulder their responsibilities under international nuclear non-proliferation instruments.
“When such conditions prevail and are supported forcefully and decisively by the world’s nations — including the friends of Israel — because they are just and right, then the painful chapters of this long-lasting conflict can finally be closed. Only then will it be possible to raise new generations living in peace and tolerance instead of living in the frustration, violence and hatred that are born of illegal, unjust occupation.
“I cannot fail to refer to the central and important role of the United States of America in assisting the parties to reach a final and just settlement. Egypt looks with satisfaction to the resumption of the active role of the United States. In this regard, Egypt also welcomes the role of the European Union, the Russian Federation and the indispensable role of the United Nations in the establishment of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in our region. Egypt will continue to play its role in support of the brotherly Palestinian people and on the side of justice, right and legitimacy.
The meeting rose at 1.20 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.