Today the international community, in accordance with decision adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 32/40 of 2 December 1977, is observing the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This occasion gives an opportunity to express support for the Palestinian people in its striving to exercise its inalienable rights.
The decisions reached at the Madrid Peace Conference and in the Oslo agreement were welcomed by the international community, as they neared the achievement of the goal of establishing peace in the region, which might have seemed unattainable. The historic steps of Israeli and Palestinian leaders in 1993, as we may recall, raised our hopes for a new era of peace, stability and prosperity for the peoples of the region. That new atmosphere provided the parties with good chances to overcome their differences through negotiations, with respect for the interests and concerns of each other, in order to establish a common foundation for peace.
Since then, we have witnessed some promising developments in the region.
Regrettably, the recent deterioration of the situation has jeopardized the existing fragile balance and stability. There is a real danger that unilateral, unreasonable decisions may lead to a deep crisis of confidence, which can result in further erosion of the peace process. The subsequent mistrust among the parties may destroy the very delicate structure of peace in the Middle East -- the structure that was so assiduously built up over the past years.
As the recent tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly has demonstrated, the overwhelming majority of the United Nations Member States are convinced that progress in promoting confidence can and should be achieved on the basis of the agreement reached at the Madrid Peace Conference and in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978). The full implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreements that have already been signed -- in particular the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 28 September 1995 -- should serve as a guarantee for further progress.
It is obvious that there is no alternative to the process of Israeli-Palestinian political negotiations based on the principles of mutual respect, confidence, adequate understanding by both sides of their respective interests, and their willingness to come to a reasonable compromise.
Overcoming mistrust and suspicion, the cessation of provocative acts, implementation in good faith of previously reached agreements, and early resumption of the peace talks aimed at a just and lasting solution of the problem of Palestine, should therefore become imperatives at the current stage of Arab-Israeli relations. Additional measures should be taken to achieve normalization in these relations, the key element of which should be real progress on the Israeli-Lebanese and Israeli-Syrian tracks.
The international community should undertake all possible measures within the framework of the existing negotiation mechanism to contribute, to the fullest extent possible, to the above-mentioned process.
In this connection, the United Nations must play a more effective role, both as a guarantor of international legitimacy and as an important instrument in the mobilization and provision of international assistance.
Activities of agencies of the United Nations system, which are aimed at providing assistance to the Palestinian people and support for the establishment of coordinating mechanism to ensure effective disbursement of donor funds, also have a great significance.
Promoting stabilization in the region should assist the gradual integration of the Palestinian Authority into the economy of the Middle East region as a whole, which is an essential element of the integral peace efforts.
As the President of the fifty-second session of the General Assembly, I would like to reiterate the Assembly's position that the United Nations has a special responsibility regarding the question of Palestine until it is resolved in a satisfactory manner, in accordance with international law and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.
Peace must be given a chance first to take root to later flourish; but it cannot be meaningful and durable unless the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are taken fully into account. This is key to the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East.