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Mr. Taumoepeau-Tupou (Tonga): ...
Although violence renders an enduring peace elusive, we continue to harbour hopes that a lasting peace can soon be concluded so that a Palestinian State can be established, living side by side with the State of Israel in internationally recognized borders and in peace and security.
The President (spoke in French): I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Habib Ben Yahia, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tunisia.
Mr. Ben Yahia (Tunisia) (spoke in Arabic): It is my honour to read out the statement of Mr. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Republic of Tunisia and Chairman of the sixteenth session of the Arab League Council, who had wanted to attend this meeting but was detained by urgent commitments. The statement reads as follows:
“In addition to the outcome of the Arab Summit, which represents a qualitative leap in the system of joint Arab action, the Arab States sent a clear message to the international community. In it, they reaffirmed their commitment to a just, comprehensive and lasting peace as a strategic option in settling the Arab-Israeli conflict, based on the Arab peace initiative, international legality, the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the implementation of the road map. The community of Arab States is determined to intensify its international activities to reactivate the Arab peace initiative and to rally international support for it.
“The serious escalation of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel’s stubborn imposition of a policy of fait accompli and unilateral measures require the international community to act promptly to end the violence against and provide international protection for the brotherly Palestinian people, to lift the siege imposed on its legitimate leadership, to cease the building of settlements and to recognize the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice declaring the construction of the separation wall illegal and calling for its demolition. We believe that this would help to create conditions conducive to the establishment of a new era of confidence and understanding among all parties in the region in which the peace process can be resumed, the brotherly Palestinian people can recover its legitimate rights and establish its independent State, and Syria and Lebanon can recover all of their occupied territories.
The President (spoke in French ): I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Moctar Ouane, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Mali.
Mr. Ouane (Mali) (spoke in French ): ...
Mali is also deeply concerned by the situation in the Middle East: measures to close off Palestinian territories, arbitrary arrests, extrajudiciary executions, the destruction of property, land seizures, lack of respect for resolutions adopted by the international community and the siege imposed upon President Arafat. Those actions do not help to establish true peace in that part of the world. Mali, which has always supported the just cause of the Palestinian people, urgently appeals to the members of the Quartet to restore dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with a view to a just, equitable and lasting settlement of a conflict which has gone on too long.
The President (spoke in French ): I now call on Her Excellency Mrs. Aïchatou Mindaoudou, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of the Niger.
Mrs. Mindaoudou (Niger) (spoke in French ): ...
Today, the international community finds itself at a crossroads. International peace and security — already sorely tested by recurrent armed conflicts — are subjected to threats or bloody attacks of terrorist acts, which further darken the global atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity. In your opening statement, Mr. President, you mentioned one of those persistent and bloody conflicts — that of the Middle East, a conflict that costs so much to humanity in terms of human lives, financial resources and lost hope. That region’s macabre statistics remind us — as if that were still necessary — of the urgent need to bring the parties to the negotiating table on the basis of the road map, which the Security Council itself endorsed through its resolution 1515 (2003).
The President (spoke in French): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Souef Mohamed El-Amine, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Union of the Comoros.
Mr. El-Amine (Comoros) (spoke in French): ...
The Union of the Comoros sincerely hopes that the Palestinian and Israeli peoples will soon institute a dialogue that will bring about an end to the violence and lead to the peaceful coexistence of those two neighbouring peoples.
The President (spoke in French ): I now call on Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the observer delegation of Palestine.
Mr. Kaddoumi (Palestine): Let me begin by congratulating you, Mr. Ping, on your election as President of the General Assembly during its fifty-ninth session. We are confident that you will conduct the proceedings of this session with great competence. I would like to pay tribute to your predecessor, Mr. Julian Robert Hunte, who so ably presided over the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly.
I would like to express at this time my deep appreciation for the efforts of the Secretary-General to harmonize international relations and ensure respect for the principles of the Charter and international law, with a view to strengthening international peace and security. His statement before this Assembly marks a landmark in the quest for the rule of law and respect for the role of the United Nations in international conflicts.
In my statement, I will focus on the turbulent situation in the Middle East and, more specifically, on the core of the conflict in the Middle East. The situation in the region of Western Asia — or the Middle East — is in turmoil. The occupation of Iraq was founded on false pretexts, further damaging the already grave situation resulting from Israel’s policies and practices in occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories. A total absence of law and order is now the general pattern of life in occupied Iraq. This continued occupation is wreaking havoc on the economic and social aspects of life there. We urge the competent institutions, namely the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council, to take the necessary and appropriate measures to ensure Iraq’s independence and sovereignty as soon as possible.
Israel is the only nuclear Power in the Middle East. It has approximately the fourth most powerful army in the world and is a sophisticated arms developer and dealer with no ethical or moral constraints and no concern for human rights. The Israeli Government can therefore do anything it wishes, and it acts like a high-tech military expert and rogue State. It has become tremendously useful for the United States, since it has strategically placed itself in the centre of the global arms industry. Counting on the support of the United States, Israel breaks moral and international laws with impunity.
The daily assaults on peaceful Palestinian towns and villages — the demolition of homes and houses, the bulldozing and uprooting of age-old fruit-bearing olive and citrus trees, the targeted killings and assassinations, the closures, the imposition of a state of siege and curfews and the use of excessively disproportionate firepower, which has resulted, so far, in more than 3,200 deaths and thousands of injuries — are common knowledge. We completely reject the allegation by Israel that this is carried out in self-defence. The Palestinians under occupation, with their meagre means of combat, are the party exercising the right to self-defence. Almost 8,000 Palestinians are being held without trial under merciless conditions, and when they protested against those conditions, an Israeli minister boasted, and I quote, “let them go on a hunger strike until they die”.
In addition to all the other methods Israel uses to obstruct peace, it holds our democratically elected President, Yasser Arafat, in confinement and has announced that they can find no partner with whom to negotiate peace. With whom are the negotiations for settlement and peace to be negotiated, if not with the democratically elected President? Israel, and others of the same mind, must wish to see a continuation of the status quo or to deal with an imposed — and not democratically elected — group or person.
The performance-based road map was unanimously backed by Security Council resolution 1515 (2003). We have accepted the road map since, in our opinion, it augured well. The road map envisaged a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and stated that the solution of the conflict
Acts of State terrorism were Israel’s response to the performance-based road map. To be more specific, a 2,000-pound bomb was dropped after the Palestinians scrupulously observed an unofficial ceasefire. Israel still adheres to the 14 reservations it had regarding the road map. The nebulous ideas and intentions revealed in the exchange of letters between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon on the matter of the commitment to the road map are far from encouraging and keep the road map and Security Council resolution 1515 (2003) in limbo if not completely neglecting and rejecting them.
In his letter of assurance dated 14 April 2004 to Prime Minister Sharon, President Bush reiterates that
He admits that as part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). However, Mr. Bush and Mr. Sharon do not topographically identify the secure and recognized borders of Israel.
In the aforementioned letter of assurance, President Bush stresses that the United States is strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish State. He does not concern himself with the security of the so-called provisional State of Palestine. He seems to be oblivious to the fact that 20 per cent of the citizens of Israel are non-Jewish and that Israel has not as yet defined who is a Jew. This concept will inevitably lead to the creation of a racist society within the Israeli political entity.
To ensure the success of the road map and the achievement of its goal — a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by 2005 — the plan also requires that Israel “freezes all settlement activity” and “withdraws from Palestinian areas occupied from 28 September 2000”.
Commenting on the meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon, Javier Solana, European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, stated on 15 April 2004:
“EU heads of State or Government recently indicated that they would not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties. A permanent settlement must also include an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee issue”.
All of this is a source of concern for the international community, as reflected in the number of meetings held by the General Assembly. Israel did not heed the request by the Assembly in resolution ES-10/14, which, by necessity, called for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the following question:
I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to express our great appreciation for the learned opinion of the judges. I wish to quote from the opinion, as it is of direct relevance to the General Assembly:
“… The United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated regime, taking due account of the present advisory opinion.”
The Palestinian people and leadership have demonstrated goodwill and accepted in good faith the provisions of the road map and other proposals leading to the termination of the Israeli occupation of our Palestinian territory, so that we in the Middle East can all live in peace and security and stability. What is needed is for the other party, Israel, to commit itself to respond, in word and in deed.
The meeting rose at 1 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.