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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Fifty-ninth General Assembly
Plenary
11th & 12th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/10263
27 September 2004


SPEAKERS CAUTION AGAINST POST-SEPTEMBER 11TH STEREOTYPING, LINKING ISLAM
WITH TERRORISM, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE ENTERS SECOND WEEK


...

Background

The fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly met this morning to continue its high-level general debate.

Statements

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FAROUK AL-SHARA, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Syria, said a wave of pessimism had taken over the world because of extremist and intolerant policies by think tanks determined to find a new enemy.  Israel had contributed to the making of these flimsy pretexts and hoped to incite the Americans first, and then the West, to wage endless wars in the Middle East.  Sharon was trying to mislead world public opinion into believing he was standing up for Jewish settlers before withdrawing from Gaza.  He had not referred to any withdrawal from the West Bank or to a recommitment to the peace process.  In addition, he said, Israel had transformed its army into gangs bent on systematic killings and war crimes against Palestinian civilians, and it bore a shared responsibility for worsening the American predicament in Iraq by avoiding the resumption of the peace process.

He said the deteriorating situation in Iraq remained a source of concern for Syria and that this state of affairs should prompt mobilization to win the battle for peace in post-war Iraq.  The Syrian people were concerned with what was happening in Iraq, given its historic and geographic ties and national bonds with the Iraqi people.  Syria was ready to cooperate with all parties concerned to enable the Iraqi people to govern themselves.  Syria called for the withdrawal of Israel from all Arab territories occupied in 1967 and for guaranteeing the rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to establish an independent state.  He said it was offensive that the Foreign Minister of Israel had used the rostrum of international legitimacy to override the facts and selectively commend a resolution adopted by the Security Council on Lebanon, as its airspace, waters and land were violated daily by Israel.

Regarding weapons of mass destruction, he said Syria was among the first nations to call for declaring the Middle East a zone free from these weapons and had worked hard to attain the objective.  Syria had joined the non-proliferation treaty and had concluded a comprehensive safeguards regime agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Turning to terrorism, he said it was a cause for concern, and it was important to eradicate that dangerous phenomenon together by addressing its real root causes.  Syria condemned the killing of innocent people, including the killing of innocent children in Beslan, Russia, and continued to support the international community in combating international terrorism.  Concluding, he said, Syria followed with great concern developments in the Sudan and believed the League of Arab States and the African Union could play an important role in the settlement of the crisis.

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NIZAR OBAID MADANI, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, ...

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The setback in the Middle East peace process and the mounting wave of violence in the region were largely attributable to the Israeli Government’s policies, he said.  Therefore, everyone must exert maximum efforts to get the peace process moving towards its desired goals.  The Palestinian question, and the Arab-Israeli conflict, could not be solved through force; peace and security could only prevail when the United Nations resolutions were applied.  If Israel was serious about withdrawing from Gaza and dismantling some settlements, it should proceed in coordination with the Palestinian Authority, in conformity with the requirements of the Road Map, and under the supervision of the Quartet.

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YOUSEF BIN ALAWI BIN ABDULLAH, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Oman, said that the Middle East region was the focus of global attention in view of its potential impact on international stability.  He welcomed, in principle, the position of cooperation adopted by the Group of Eight at their meeting in Sea Island, Georgia, in June, believing that closer cooperation among the Group and the countries of the Middle East towards development and stability was essential.  Declaring that the Palestinian issue and Israel’s continued occupation of Arab territories in Syria and Lebanon could not be put on the backburner indefinitely, he said that the Group had the moral and political weight to enable them to seek fair and just solutions for those issues.

The Middle East Road Map, which had been well-received by the Arab countries, remained unimplemented.  He called on the sponsors of the Road Map, the Quartet –- the United States, Russian Federation, United Nations and the European Union, to fulfil their commitments on the Middle East.  ...

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KEITH DESMOND KNIGHT, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, ...

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... For its part, Jamaica continued to call for good sense and wisdom to defuse the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and noted that the war in Iraq had opened further complexities and was becoming a dangerous source of continuing conflict in the region.

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RADNAABAZARYN ALTANGEREL, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, ...  Noting the lack of progress on the path towards peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, he urged both sides to exercise restraint and support the efforts of the Quartet in implementing the Road Map.

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SOMSAVAT LENGSAVAD, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, ... Violence continued unabated in the occupied Palestinian territory, he said, adding that such violence would harm peace efforts in the Middle East and prolong the suffering of people in the region.  He urged serious dialogue, to settle the conflict and realize the vision of two States living side by side in peace. ...

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MARWAN MUASHER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, said the most recent Arab Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had identified the pressing challenges facing the Arab world both now and in the future.  It had subsequently triggered a broad debate on the future of reform in the Middle East.  For reform to be meaningful, it had to first emanate from within the society and be sensitive to the particular needs of each country.  His country, therefore, developed an integrated agenda that addressed the primary issues of concern to common Jordanians.  Those included:  broader political involvement and personal freedoms; wider roles for women and youth; a more efficient judicial system; educational reform; and steady economic growth.  All of those actions were aimed at improving the living conditions of all individuals and helping the evolution of a more progressive, open and tolerant society.

The series of reforms currently under way in Jordan, however, would remain inadequate without the support of the international community, he noted.  Help was needed for development projects, direct assistance to the Jordanian economy and foreign debt relief.  Of special significance was the aid needed and expected from the “Group of Eight” industrialized countries for Jordan’s plans and initiatives, which had been set against promising, realistic and sustainable goals.  Also, the long-standing status quo in his region had made all efforts to forge ahead with the overall Middle East reform exercise virtually impossible.  The creation of a favourable climate that would help accelerate regional development and progress hinged on the termination of Israel’s occupation of Arab land on the basis of international legality.  The time had come to focus on starting the peace process on the basis of the Road Map and the terms of reference reiterated therein, including the Arab peace initiative and implementation by both the Israeli and Palestinian sides of their respective obligations under the Road Map.  The launching of any serious political process required immediate action on the part of all parties to end the violence and all forms of civilian killing.

He stressed the need to respect and implement what had been declared by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its advisory opinion on the separation wall being built by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory.  The ICJ’s announcement was the law and no peaceful settlement of the Palestinian question could be realized unless it was based on respect for the rules of international law and recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination.  Of particular note was the ICJ opinion that the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was an occupied territory and, under international law, Israel an occupying Power.  Accordingly, the claim that the West bank, including East Jerusalem, was “disputed territory” had been dismissed once and for all.  The advisory opinion also made it incumbent upon the international community to refrain from supporting Israel in its violations.  Further, the construction by Israel of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory was illegal.  He added that the separation wall also threatened the national security of Jordan.

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MAMADY CONDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea, ...

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... On other issues, he urged both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to seek a negotiated settlement to their long-running dispute, in line with the Road Map peace plan.

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