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        General Assembly
12 November 2001

Official Records
General Assembly
Fifty-sixth session
49th plenary meeting
Monday, 12 November 2001, 3 p.m.
New York

President:Mr. Han Seung-soo .........................................................(Republic of Korea)

The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m.


Agenda item 9 (continued)

General debate


The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalghem, Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

Mr. Shalghem (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya):


The international community has thus far failed to resolve the Palestinian problem, which is almost as old as the United Nations itself. This is essentially due to disregard of the core of the problem, which is that a land was usurped and its people were expelled from their homeland. Thus, Palestine remained occupied. Most of its people became refugees in various parts of the world, and those who stayed were made into prisoners in their own homes, deprived of the most basic human rights. The Palestinian people are being subjected to the most heinous crimes committed against any people in contemporary history. Palestinian children and young and elderly people are assassinated, their land is confiscated, their farms are burnt and their houses are demolished to be replaced by houses of settlers who came from various parts of the world in pursuit of unbelievable and illogical myths.

Old and new developments of the Palestinian question are sufficient proof that ending the suffering of the Palestinians under occupation cannot be achieved through plans that are never implemented. It has also been cogently proven that the problem will not be resolved by the resolutions that the United Nations has been reiterating for more than five decades.

In the light of those irrefutable facts, the solution that should be sought, and on which all efforts must focus, lies in what my country has said before and reaffirms now: the Palestinian people must return to their homeland, from which they were expelled, and a democratic, non-racist State must be established in which all citizens are equal irrespective of religion or ethnicity, a State similar to the one that has been established in the Republic of South Africa. Any other solution would be a fantasy that would serve only to perpetuate the Palestinian tragedy.

Speaking of the situation in the eastern Arab region, my country reaffirms its unlimited support for sisterly Syria and Lebanon in their steadfastness in the face of Israeli aggression. We condemn all attempts to provoke those countries, and we uphold their right to recover all their territories under occupation.


The Acting President: I now give the floor to The Honourable Phil Goff, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand.

Mr. Goff (New Zealand):


The events of 11 September should encourage all countries and organizations, particularly those directly involved, to renew efforts to find a just and peaceful solution to the Middle East crisis. To achieve a peaceful solution between Palestinians and Israelis requires good will and flexibility on both sides. There can be no double standards in how the principles of human rights, freedom and social and economic opportunity are applied to all peoples.


The Acting President: I call on Her Excellency Ms. Lydie Polfer, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Luxembourg.

Ms. Polfer (Luxembourg) (spoke in French):


Although there are no grounds for making a direct connection between the events of 11 September and the situation in the Middle East, the situation there is becoming increasingly worrying. We note that, unfortunately, the fabric that was woven during 10 years of mediation efforts and that was almost completed at Taba is now unravelling before our eyes. During my recent visit to the region, I noted the extent to which the peace process, which has been deadlocked for far too long, is suffering from the absence of any real prospects and from increasing distrust among the parties.

That is why, together with our colleagues from the European Union, we are stepping up our efforts to convince the parties that only the cessation of violence and the recognition of two States will make it possible for negotiations to resume that can lead to a just and lasting peace in the region, on the basis of the establishment of a Palestinian State and the right of Israel to live in peace and security. The European Union stands ready to provide a framework for this process, in cooperation with the United States of America and the Arab States of the region, and to assist the parties with a view to facilitating the reconciliation that is necessary.


The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Benaissa, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco.

Mr. Benaissa (Morocco) (spoke in Arabic):


It is absolutely clear that the question of the Middle East is one of the most serious regional conflicts that the world has experienced in the past 50 years. Recently, we have seen a dangerous escalation in the conflict that has taken hundreds of lives, including those of many women and children, and undermined the infrastructure and services of the occupied territories of Palestine. Morocco has therefore condemned the attacks and called for a lifting of the siege of Palestinian towns and villages, where homes, schools and fields have been bulldozed. The forced colonization of Palestinian areas occupied since 1967 must come to an end. We must break the vicious cycle of violence and reprisals, and return to the negotiating table on the basis of the conclusions of the Mitchell report and signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Morocco feels that peace between the Arabs and Israelis will have to entail an Israeli withdrawal from all the land occupied since 1967 in Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights and that part of the territory of Lebanon that remains under Israeli occupation. This must take place on the basis of full compliance with international law, in particular Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the decisions of the Madrid Conference, which called for an exchange of land for peace. In this context, we heard with satisfaction the statement made by President Bush concerning the establishment of a Palestinian State and the expression of the will of the United States Administration to resume its active role in reviving the peace process in order to achieve a just, lasting, comprehensive and genuine peace for all the peoples and States of the region.


The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Mikhail M. Khvostov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus.

Mr. Khvostov (Belarus) (spoke in Russian):


It is essential not to weaken the intensifying political effort to give a new impetus to the peace process in the Middle East. There is no alternative to the peaceful establishment of an independent Palestinian State through political negotiations, based on the strict observance of Security Council resolutions already adopted and the decisions of other relevant international forums. It is regrettable that the Security Council was unable to reach consensus on a United Nations presence in the region at this crucial moment. We consider it extremely important that we continue our efforts to settle unresolved problems on the Lebanese track, in tandem with the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Golan Heights.


The Acting President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Brian Cowen, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland.

Mr. Cowen (Ireland):


Violent conflict and internal strife are the reality of daily life in many regions and countries across the world today — the Middle East, the Great Lakes region of Africa and many other places, such as Sudan, where people are being killed and maimed. Ireland has worked hard since joining the Security Council last January to focus on the need to address these and other conflicts. We have given particular attention to Africa and to the efforts, frequently African-led, to solve the many conflicts there. We have consistently sought to highlight the humanitarian aspects of the various situations coming before the Council. We were particularly gratified during our presidency of the Security Council last month to have presided over substantial discussions on Somalia and on the United Nations support for post-independence East Timor.


The international community must support the peace process in a balanced and objective way. A successful process needs a route map, such as those already prepared by Mitchell and Tenet in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also needs a mechanism to arbitrate on who is meeting, and who is not meeting, their commitments under any such arrangements.

Those driving the peace process must rise above the politics of the last atrocity. Not doing so, while understandable in terms of domestic opinion, is ultimately bereft of vision and hands control over progress to the enemies of the process. There is a particularly compelling message here for those charged with advancing the peace process in the Middle East. If these elements are present, we believe a peace process can prosper.


The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Fathulla Jameel, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives.

Mr. Jameel (Maldives):


My country wholeheartedly supports the just struggle of the Palestinian people. My country commends the efforts of the co-sponsors of the Middle East peace process to help put the talks back on track. We strongly believe that the Mitchell report should be implemented urgently to pave the way for restarting the stalled peace process.


The Acting President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Josep Piqué, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain.

Mr. Piqué (Spain) (spoke in Spanish):


To their cynicism and disdain for elementary human values, terrorists often add a shameless opportunism in order to manipulate particular situations to their advantage. These situations undoubtedly require a solution on account of their intrinsic nature, on their own merits, without any relation to terrorist claims. We must all work together to find that solution.

These situations involve structural problems such as poverty and the marginalization in which many millions of people live all over the world. They also have to do with regional conflicts, such as that in the Middle East, where there is an urgent need to stop the blind cycle of violence and return to the negotiating table. If the political will exists, negotiations are possible. Madrid, Oslo and the advances made at Camp David and Taba prove this. There is no alternative to the peace process and, at the end of the road, the State of Israel and the Palestinian State will coexist peacefully within secure borders.


The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Habib Ben Yahia, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia.

Mr. Ben Yahia (Tunisia) (spoke in Arabic):


There is no doubt that the strengthening of the foundations of international peace and security is a task entrusted primarily to the Security Council, which in recent weeks has proved particularly effective in its reaction to current developments. We hope that that important body will maintain the same effectiveness in seeking solutions to all international problems.

From this perspective, developments in the Middle East must take priority among the issues before the Council. This is particularly important in view of the continuing instability in the region caused by Israel’s intransigence. We call on the Security Council, and especially its permanent members, to play an effective role so as to spare the Middle East from the spectre of an endless conflict, by urging Israel to take urgent measures to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people. Tunisia reaffirms its initiative, calling for the protection of the Palestinian people through the deployment of international forces in the region.

We believe that the only viable option in the Middle East today is a just, lasting and comprehensive peace that guarantees for the Palestinians the return of their land and their legitimate rights, foremost of which is their right to establish an independent State. In this context, Tunisia welcomes President Bush’s affirmation before the General Assembly of the necessity of establishing a Palestinian State. We also reiterate our position on the need for Israeli forces to leave Syrian and Lebanese territory.


The meeting rose at 7.30 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.

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