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20th plenary meeting
Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 10 a.m.
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Mamady Condé, Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea.
Mr. Condé (Guinea) (spoke in French): ...
In the Middle East, Guinea regrets the fact that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was not followed by additional measures to put an end to the occupation of Palestinian territory. It calls upon the parties to uphold the relevant United Nations resolutions as well as the Quartet road map for the creation of two States, Palestinian and Israeli, with secure, internationally recognized borders, living side by side in peace.
With respect to the Israeli-Lebanese crisis, Guinea greatly regrets the tragedy of the Lebanese people. We support effective implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), which imposes a ceasefire and the deployment of a stronger international force in southern Lebanon.
The President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Dermot Ahern, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland.
Mr. Ahern (Ireland): ...
The single greatest challenge to international peace and security is the situation in the Middle East. The dreadful events of recent months have again brought before the eyes of the world the continuing suffering being borne by the peoples of the region. Frustration at the long agony of the Palestinian people creates and sharpens wider divisions across the world. A comprehensive settlement of the interrelated problems of the region is more urgently required than at any time in the past 60 years.
In Lebanon there are signs of hope, but there is no room for complacency. Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) offers a path to a stable peace, and good progress is being made in its implementation. European countries in particular have responded well to the call for contributions to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) II. Ireland will very shortly be in a position to offer its own contribution to that force.
But the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians will continue to generate surges of conflict across the region until it is resolved. Any illusion that there can be a unilateral or a military solution has surely been shattered. This is a conflict about the sharing of space. The only solution lies in a negotiated outcome. It is time for a major international effort to launch serious negotiations for a settlement — the establishment of two sovereign democratic States living together in peace and security.
But to achieve peace there must be partners for peace. Ireland strongly supports the continuing efforts of President Abbas to create a national unity government committed to the peace process and reflecting the Quartet principles. If he succeeds the international community must be generous and creative in response. Israel’s absolute right to exist in peace and security should be unchallenged. But, not least in its own interests, Israel must engage seriously and openly with the Palestinians. It must cease all activities, in particular the expansion of settlements, which are against international law and which make a lasting peace harder to attain.
The President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Abdelwaheb Abdallah, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia.
Mr. Abdallah (Tunisia) (spoke in Arabic): ...
Our world today sees numerous rapid changes and developments in security, political, economic and social issues while time many international issues remain unresolved. Tunisia — which has supported the Middle East peace process since its inception and has always called for dialogue, negotiation and recourse to international legality — stresses again the need to find a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict that will allow all the peoples of the region to live in peace and security. Taking into account the hardships and suffering that the fraternal Palestinian people are undergoing, such as the siege, Tunisia calls upon the international community to provide them with international protection urgently. Tunisia also renews its call for active parties, primarily the Quartet, to ensure appropriate conditions for reviving all tracks of the peace process in accordance with ongoing Arab efforts, to help the Palestinian people regain their legitimate national rights, including the establishment of their independent State and to allow sister States Syria and Lebanon to recover their occupied territories.
Tunisia reiterates its solidarity with Lebanon following the Israeli aggression, which caused destruction and huge loss of life and property, and renews its call on the international community to contribute to the reconstruction of Lebanon. In this regard, Tunisia commends the results of the recent Stockholm donor summit.
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Sergei Martynov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus.
Mr. Martynov (Belarus) (spoke in Russian): ...
I hope that many of those present will agree that free self-determination is the main ideology of the modern world. Is it not absolutely clear that as long as there is no independent Palestinian State, peacefully coexisting with all its neighbours, and that as long as Iraq is not free from occupation, then terrorism and extremism will remain inevitable and invincible? Attempts to solve the problems of self-determination by violent measures, whether military or of any other kind, from the outside will result only in increasing the ranks of the ruthless disciples of terrorism and extremism.
In the modern world free self-determination is not only an issue of State independence and sovereignty. It is also an issue of recognizing — not in word, but in deed — a diversity of ways for countries and peoples to progress. We must provide the Palestinians, Iraqis, Lebanese and other peoples with the possibility of building their own homes in the way they want. Any help should come only then and in such manner as they wish, not as deemed appropriate by the ideologues of crusades in some capitals. There are no clever and foolish, no superior and inferior, no righteous and vicious peoples and religions; there are just people of the planet who are equally eager for happiness, uncomplicated and dignified.
The President (spoke in Arabic): I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Walid Al-Moualem, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Mr. Al-Moualem (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): ...
For decades the Middle East region has been the stage for many daunting and exacerbated challenges. It has endured continued Israeli occupation of Arab territories since 1967 and the denial of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Peoples of our region have lost hope of realizing their aspirations to justice, peace and security. A short time ago Israel launched its destructive war against Lebanon. The Palestinian situation, in the grip of Israeli occupation, continues to deteriorate. Acts of aggression are on the rise while the rights of the people continue to be trampled under foot. Palestinians are subjected to a crippling blockade because the advocates of democracy were dissatisfied with the results of elections in the Palestinian territories.
Our region is in the grip of a volatile situation brought about by a protracted and relentless occupation. There are few, if any, prospects for change that will hold the promise of a safe, just and stable life for our people. Can we turn the current situation into a prelude to the solution rather than a consecration of tension and confrontation?
That important question is essential to understanding the suffering of our peoples. For decades they have been yearning for the realization of a just and comprehensive peace through a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict that will end occupation, restore rights, and allow for the realization of the objectives of development. That is the path to take in order to address the root causes of the problems of the region before talking about a new or a greater Middle East.
The international community must realize that continued Israeli occupation of Arab territories is the hotbed of all the problems of the region. It is the origin of the encompassing anger that consumes its peoples. I wonder, is the region destined to live one endless war after another? Can any one expect our people to draw comfort and satisfaction from the occupation of their territories and the violation of their rights? Are they expected to exalt the financers and supporters of this persistent injustice, who can redress it only if they are willing? Is the region destined to endure a new war, complementing the war against Lebanon, in favour of a new Middle East, and recalling once again the birthpangs of bloodshed and destruction during the war against Lebanon, instead of embracing the opportunity to open the door to peace in the region?
The suffering of the Palestinian people continues and their tragedy has heightened over the years. Some members of the international community have become accustomed to dealing with the suffering as if it were a natural phenomenon, not an unprecedented humanitarian and national tragedy. We in Syria are victims of that tragedy in all its aspects and are influenced by its repercussions. We support the efforts of our Palestinian brothers to close their ranks and encourage them to form a Government of national unity. The suffering of our people in the occupied Syrian Golan continues as well and all Syrians suffer because of this occupation.
From this rostrum I salute the struggle and steadfastness of our people in the Golan and in Palestine in the face of the Israeli policies of tyranny and terrorism. It is extremely important for the international community to recognize that the deep-rooted anger and resentment consuming our region, particularly after the senseless war against Lebanon, and the continued logjam in efforts for peace, constitute a dangerous and complex situation and can only lead to confrontation instead of peace. This will not serve the interests of anyone, inside the region or outside it. We too want a new Middle East, one where a just and comprehensive peace prevails, based on right, justice, and guaranteeing the same security to all.
Fifteen years ago Syria declared that the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace was its strategic choice. It took part in the peace process that began in Madrid, based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and on the principle of land for peace. Negotiations continued for 10 years but did not bear fruit. The Syrian Golan continues to be under occupation and peace remains elusive. It was clear beyond any doubt that the Israeli political will to make peace was non-existent. Peacemaking first requires political will, to be followed by the implementation of the resolutions of international legitimacy.
Israel launched a brutal war against Lebanon, destroying life and property. Thanks to the courageous Lebanese resistance, its honourable steadfastness and its national unity, Lebanon warded off the aggression and defeated the aggressor. The Security Council ultimately adopted its long-awaited resolution 1701 (2006), and my country, Syria, said it would cooperate with the United Nations to implement that resolution.
Syria adopted the necessary measures to control its borders with fraternal Lebanon. Syria is committed to Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty and demands the withdrawal of Israel from all Lebanese occupied territories, including from the Lebanese Sheba’a farms. We hope that Lebanon will be able to overcome the consequences of the Israeli aggression through the unity of its people and the assistance provided by its brothers, friends, and the international community, so that it will recover and be prosperous again. I stress here Syria’s commitment to the establishment of good relations with Lebanon in the interests of the two fraternal peoples and countries.
The fact is that we, the people of the region, know our circumstances and the priorities of the millions angered by the denial of their sovereign, national rights. If anyone asked the angry millions about their priorities and objectives, the sure answer would be “We want an end to the Israeli occupation of our lands in Palestine, Lebanon and the Golan. We want to recover all our usurped rights. We want the flow of American weapons to Israel, which are sowing death and destruction, to stop. We refuse hegemony over our resources and interference in our affairs. We want a Middle East governed by peace and built on right and justice, a Middle East where people can dedicate all their energies and resources to development and progress and embrace the positive trends in contemporary human thought and endeavour.”
Israel is the sole Power in possession of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. It refuses to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to submit to the comprehensive safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency. That poses a threat to peace and security in the region. On 29 December 2003, on behalf of the Arab Group, Syria submitted to the Security Council a draft resolution to rid the Middle East region of all weapons of mass destruction. We still hope to adopt that resolution as soon as possible.
My country joins many other developing countries that have expressed concern over the restrictions on access by Member States, particularly developing countries, to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In conclusion I stress that the Middle East currently stands at a crossroads. It has the option either to take the road to justice, peace and security, or be faced, even more than before, with tension and confrontation that would not be in the interests of any party inside or outside the region. It is up to the parties concerned to understand the danger inherent in turning our backs on the road to peace, not yet taken. Everything also hinges on the active role that our international Organization must play to maintain international peace and security, beginning with the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). I hope that objectivity and the desire for peace will trump other options so that the Middle East can be ushered into a new, secure and prosperous era after decades of suffering.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Zarifou Ayeva, Minister of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs and African Integration of Togo.
Mr. Ayeva (Togo) (spoke in French): ...
In other parts of the world, the continuing developments in both Iraq and the Middle East are a major source of concern for the Government of Togo. Togo firmly believes it is high time that the people of Iraq were reconciled and that the international community provided all the necessary support for their Government to help it complete the reconciliation process. It should be emphasized that the countries of the subregion have an important role to play in the quest for peace in Iraq.
The tragedy that unfolded in Lebanon weighs on our conscience. Togo welcomes the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 1701 (2006), whose effective implementation will permit the return of peace to the country.
At the heart of the Middle East conflict is the thorny question of Palestine. Sustainable peace in the region requires an end to the continuous cycle of violence and a climate of confidence, which would make possible talks to create a Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel, the two of them coexisting within secure and internationally recognized borders.
The meeting rose at 1.10 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-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.