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The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m.
Item 9 of the provisional agenda (continued)
The President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Louis Michel, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium.
Mr. Michel (Belgium) ( spoke in French ): ...
Another area in need of structural stability is the Middle East. Men, women, mothers, fathers, children all are suffering on a daily basis from the violence, and for this reason we must reaffirm those principles that will enable us to find a lasting and equitable solution: land for peace, a viable Palestinian State and security for Israel. Rather than going beyond the gains made through Oslo and Madrid, we should enshrine and reconfirm them by translating them into reality. This is what the European Union has sought to do by drawing up a road map setting out the actions to be taken by the parties concerned with a view to achieving a comprehensive and lasting solution.
The President : I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Mr. Lengsavad (Lao People’s Democratic Republic): ...
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic shares the international community’s deep concern about the excessive use of force in the Middle East since March this year. In conformity with the common position of the Non-Aligned Movement on the Middle East peace process, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic believes that only a politically negotiated settlement acceptable to both parties and implemented under international supervision will bring peace, stability and cooperation to the region. Such a settlement must be based on respect for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to establish an independent and viable State of their own, so that they can live side by side with Israel in peace and security within internationally recognized borders, in accordance with all relevant United Nations resolutions.
The President : I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Vartan Oskanian, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia.
Mr. Oskanian (Armenia): ...
It is becoming clear that this millennium, too, will not be violence-free. Today, when global peace appears a distant hope, Armenia observes the volatility in the Caucasus, the Middle East and elsewhere with trepidation. To face such challenges, Armenia supports proposals by the Secretary-General aimed at the strengthening of the Organization so that it can face new challenges in a more satisfactory way. Additionally, Armenia is in favour of more equitable representation on the Security Council, as well as more transparency in its activities.
The situation in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and around Iraq remains a continuing example of the need for a vibrant and strengthened United Nations able to assert the will of the Organization’s membership and empowered with greater authority to implement its decisions.
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Marwan Muasher, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan.
Mr. Muasher (Jordan) ( spoke in Arabic ): ...
The current situation in the Middle East is extremely dangerous. The whole landscape is constantly changing for the worse, especially in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel’s reoccupation of the Palestinian Authority’s territories and the perpetuation of this occupation, together with the measures and policies emanating thereof, particularly policies of closure and siege, have created intolerable living conditions for the Palestinian people. These unbearable conditions have prompted several humanitarian agencies and international organs to declare a state of emergency. Israeli measures to strangle the Palestinian people economically and politically, with a view to bringing the Palestinians to their knees and to coercing them into surrendering their rights, have reached inadmissible levels of seriousness. Malnutrition rates among the Palestinian population have doubled. Diseases related to malnutrition and hunger have become widespread, particularly among children, women and the elderly. The joint impact of all these factors has created breeding grounds for frustration and despair, which inevitably generate hatred, grudges and violence.
Therefore, this situation must be addressed effectively and expeditiously. We hope that the first move will come from Israel in the form of ending its occupation of Palestinian towns without delay. We also expect Israel to cease forthwith its policies of closures and siege. It is in Israel’s interest to pursue constructive policies towards the Palestinians in order to restore mutual confidence and to rehabilitate the values of reconciliation and coexistence between the two peoples. It is our considered view that Israel’ ;s current approach is irrational, as it results in excessive use of force, which in turn fuels and deepens hatred and replenishes the sources of violence.
While we welcome the few visible signs of relief, as reflected in the accord reached by the Palestinian and Israeli sides on 19 August 2002, which calls for progressive withdrawal by Israel from certain Palestinian towns that have been reoccupied by Israel, we call on Israel to implement faithfully and expeditiously Security Council resolution 1402 (2002), which provides for full Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian cities.
From a political and humanitarian point of view, Jordan stands against targeting Israeli civilians and concurs with the need to address the whole spectrum of security issues. However, it maintains that the only viable course for addressing the Palestinian-Israeli question lies in the resumption of the peace process as a whole, from the point where it stalled and within the agreed framework established on the basis of complete Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since 1967, including the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories; the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, pursuant to relevant Security Council resolutions, particularly 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 425 (1978) and 1397 (2002).
In that context, I wish to stress the significance of the initiative adopted by the Arab leaders at the Beirut Arab Summit last March. That initiative outlined a balanced approach in terms of practical ideas and arguments that demonstrate beyond any doubt a genuine pan-Arab commitment to just, lasting and comprehensive peace. That plan is a pledge by Arab States to conclude peace agreements with Israel in return for its complete withdrawal from the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories to the 4 June 1967 borders, the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem its capital and finding a just and agreed solution to the Palestinian refugees question on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions.
I trust that the Government of Israel will rise to the level of the hopes and aspirations of the Arab peoples and the people of Israel to live in peace, justice and dignity. We hope that the Government of Israel will be forthcoming in response to that balanced and sincere initiative, which gained the acceptance of all States and parties interested in the peace process. Furthermore, this initiative is also in line with the vision and the commitment outlined by President George W. Bush of the United States on the form and aim of a final solution on the Palestinian-Israeli track based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state existing alongside the State of Israel by mid-2005 at the latest.
In that regard, Jordan supports efforts being made to draw up a clear road map leading to the implementation of President Bush’s commitment through, first, defining the obligations of both the Palestinian and Israeli sides; secondly, setting a clear timetable for all phases of carrying out those obligations so that the deadline for the birth of the independent Palestinian State will not, under any circumstances, extend beyond mid-2005; and, thirdly, agreeing to the creation of an international supervisory mechanism that ensures the timely and orderly implementation of those measures as well as monitoring the implementation process.
We hope that this vision will be examined at the Quartet meeting in New York within the next few days, with a view to adopting it into a plan of action and a comprehensive international obligation. Subsequently, the parties will embark on the implementation process within the specified framework, whose outcome will be the establishment of an independent Palestinian State within less than three years. We also hope that this achievement will generate a fresh impetus to conclude comprehensive peace on the Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli tracks within the same time frame.
The Acting President ( spoke in Spanish ): I now give the floor to His Excellency The Honourable Mr. Joseph Borg, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malta.
Mr. Borg (Malta): ...
The continued turbulence in the Middle East also continues to be a source of great concern to my Government. The cycle of violence that continues to engulf the region provides a confirmation, if ever one were needed, that there is no purely military solution to the conflict. The extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, the deliberate destruction of the property and livelihoods of innocent civilians and the subjection of the entire Palestinian population to collective punishment does not dim the wholly legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to a State of their own.
Likewise, the targeting of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings and other forms of destruction of the lives and property of innocent civilians does untold harm to the cause the perpetrators of those crimes claim to support.
No cause, no argument and no justification can legitimize these abhorrent acts by either party to the conflict.
My Government looks on in anguish as a fence, reminiscent of the Berlin wall, that most shameful of symbols of the twentieth century, slowly takes shape. It is a harrowing reminder of how little mankind has learned from the past, particularly if we look back to the outbreak of violence in the region since September 2000.
Unjustified preconditions to the start of political negotiations further hinder any progress in the discussions on a two-State solution to the conflict. Negotiations, which must start without further delay, must be built on the clear and plain language of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land for peace. The recent initiative by the States members of the European Union in presenting a road map for the Middle East which outlines a three-stage process leading to the creation of a Palestinian State by 2005 provides a genuine basis for taking negotiations forward. The international community looks to the Quartet to advance in that direction with urgency.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. George Papandreou, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece.
Mr. Papandreou (Greece): ...
... Not far from us, conflict continues. We stand ready to support all efforts to ensure that Israel may be secure and that the Palestinians may have a State they can call their own.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Kamal Kharrazi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Mr. Kharrazi (Islamic Republic of Iran) ( spoke in Farsi; English text furnished by the delegation ): ...
The continued brutalities in occupied Palestine once again indicate that solutions not well grounded in justice and realism will fail to bring about lasting peace in the Middle East region. The Palestinian people have the right, under international law, the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to persist in their struggle to restore their inalienable rights. Occupying other people’s land must be condemned, as must labelling as terrorist a nation that is only fighting to liberate its homeland.
The way to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East is to guarantee to Palestinians the right to return to their homeland and the right to self-determination, leading to the formation — in a democratic process and under the supervision of the United Nations — of a Palestinian State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. It is the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to choose, through democratic means, their future political system and the manner in which they elect to establish their civil and political order. We respect the choices that the Palestinian people make.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish ): I now give the floor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, His Excellency Mr. João Bernardo de Miranda.
Mr. Miranda (Angola) (spoke in Portuguese; English text provided by the delegation): ...
In the Middle East, renewed escalation of the violence may hamper current initiatives towards a peaceful settlement of the Palestine issue and the termination of Arab-Israeli crisis. We urge the parties to return to the negotiating table and to find a political settlement that will serve the best interests of all peoples living in the region and meet their security requirements.
The President : I now call on His Excellency The Honourable Frederick A. Mitchell, M.P., Minister for Foreign Affairs and Public Service of the Bahamas.
Mr. Mitchell (Bahamas): ...
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people is a matter of concern. There should be peace between them. We support the peaceful settlement of this issue in accordance with all applicable United Nations resolutions. Every people deserves to have a State to call its own in peace and security.
The Bahamas is concerned about developments in Africa. As part of the African diaspora, we wish to see Africa prosper, wars cease and equitable policies applied for all of the many and varied people of that continent.
We support the reform of the Security Council. The Bahamas believes that the time has come for us to take the hard decisions and to agree to a practical programme of reform that takes fully into account the need for equitable membership and for a more democratic and transparent Council.
The Bahamas is a small country whose voice, without the indispensable forum provided by the United Nations, would be lost or at best ignored. Here, irrespective of size and wealth, we have the ability to speak with equal voice and to vote with equal power on matters that affect the quality of our lives today and that will impact the type of world that we leave in place for future generations. This is why it is vitally important that we preserve and respect the integrity of this Organization. Member States are bound to come here for redress and should not act unilaterally outside the bounds of the Charter. The Bahamas reaffirms its commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations as enshrined in its Charter. I leave the Assembly with that commitment here today.
The meeting rose at 6.15 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.