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Soixante-sixième session du débat générale de l’AG /Question de Palestine – Communiqué de presse de l’AG Français
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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
22 September 2011

General Assembly
GA/11147

        Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly
Plenary
11th & 12th Meetings (AM & PM)

SECRETARY-GENERAL, OPENING ANNUAL DEBATE, URGES WORLD LEADERS TO TACKLE


GLOBAL CHALLENGES DECISIVELY FOR SAKE OF FUTURE GENERATIONS


General Assembly President Welcomes Newest Member State;
Calls for Transparent, Impartial Negotiated Israeli-Palestinian Peace


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Background

The General Assembly met today to open its general debate for the sixty-sixth session.

Opening Remarks

United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON ...

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Turning to the Middle East, he said the international community must break the stalemate. “We have long agreed that Palestinians deserve a State. Israel needs security. Both want peace. We pledge our unrelenting efforts to help achieve that peace through negotiated settlement,” he said.


“Let there be no doubt that 2011 is the year of new horizons,” said NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER, President of the General Assembly. Welcoming “new faces and new friends” to the Assembly’s annual gathering, he stressed that the United Nations would work to ensure that the shifts taking place across the globe resulted in stable and prosperous democracies, continued growth and development and the protection and promotion of human rights.

The United Nations this year welcomed its newest Member State, South Sudan, he noted, adding that the issue of Palestine would also be particularly crucial and receive great attention during the coming session. In that regard, he looked forward to working with Member States for the attainment of a just and comprehensive negotiated peace settlement in the Middle East, based on a two-State solution and conducted in a transparent, impartial manner, in keeping with the will of the United Nations collective membership.

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Statements

“For the first time in history, a female voice opens the general debate,” said DILMA ROUSSEFF, President of Brazil, stressing that it was the voice of democracy and equality reverberating from the most representative podium in the world. It was with personal humility, but justified pride as a woman that she met this historic moment. “I am certain this will be the century of women,” she said, noting that in Portuguese, words such as life, soul and hope, as well as courage and sincerity, were feminine nouns.

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Welcoming South Sudan as the newest member of the United Nations, she pledged her country’s commitment to supporting its sovereign development. Brazil regretted that Palestine’s full membership could not yet be welcomed. Indeed, like the majority of the countries in the Assembly, Brazil believed that the time had come for Palestine to be fully represented. “Only a free and sovereign Palestine will be able to heed Israel’s legitimate desire for peace with its neighbours, security in its border and political stability in its region,” she said.

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BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, ...

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He acknowledged that, for many in the Assembly Hall, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was a test of those principles and a test for American foreign policy. One year ago, he had called for an independent Palestine. “I believed then — and I believe now — that the Palestinian people deserve a State of their own. But, what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves,” he said, stressing that, despite extensive efforts by the United States and others, the parties had not bridged their differences. In light of the stalemate, he had put forward a new basis for negotiations in May. That basis was clear: Israelis must know that any agreement assured their security; and Palestinians deserved to know the territorial basis of their State.

“I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. So am I. But, the question isn’t the goal we seek; the question is how to reach it,” he said, expressing the conviction that there was no short cut to the end of a conflict that had endured for decades. Peace would not come through statements and resolutions. Ultimately, he said, it was Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side and it was they — “not us” — who must reach agreement on the issues that divided them, including on borders and security; on refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

“Peace depends upon compromise among peoples who must live together long after our speeches are over, and our votes have been counted,” he continued, recalling the lessons of Northern Ireland and Sudan. And that was the path to a Palestinian State. The United States sought a future where Palestinians lived in a sovereign State of their own, with no limit to what they could achieve. Yet, in all that, America’s commitment to Israel’s security was unshakable; the two countries shared a friendship that was deep and enduring. He called for honesty, saying that Israel was surrounded by neighbours that had waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s children came of age knowing that other children throughout the world grew up being taught to hate them. Jewish people had forged a successful State in their historical homeland.

He said the friends of the Palestinians did them no favours by ignoring such truths, just as Israel’s friends should recognize the need for pursuing a two-State solution. The truth that each side had legitimate aspirations was what made peace so hard. “The deadlock can only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other shoes. That’s what we should be promoting,” he declared, adding that the United Nations, dedicated to the dignity of every person, must recognize the realities of both Israelis and Palestinians. “We can only succeed if we encourage the parties to sit down and listen to each other […], that is what America is committed to,” he said, reiterating that there were no shortcuts.

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FELIPE CALDERÓN HINOJOSA, President of Mexico, ...

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... The Mexican Government believed the United Nations bore the responsibility to constructively contribute to resolving conflict in the Middle East. Any solution must be politically viable and recognize the right to existence of Israel and lead to the establishment of a Palestinian State. Yet, no solution could be found while one side either explicitly or implicitly wanted to annihilate the other. ...

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NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV, President of Kazakhstan, ...

... On the “complex” question of Palestine, he said that difficult issue had been placed on the scales of history, and Kazakhstan advocated a just and lasting settlement of the conflict, including direct Israeli-Palestinian talks.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, President of France, wondered who among those gathered at the General Assembly one year ago could have imagined that the world — already convulsed by an unprecedented economic crisis — would have undergone such changes. In just a few months, the “Arab Spring” had given rise to extraordinary hope. For too long, the Arab peoples were oppressed. They had now opposed those who proclaimed that the Arab-Muslim world was by nature hostile to democracy and human rights.

“We do not have the right to disappoint their hopes,” he stressed, adding that breaking those dreams would “vindicate the fanatics”. The international community could not respond to the aspiration for democracy by perpetuating the tragedy of the Israel-Palestine conflict. In that regard, new methods should be adopted where others had failed. It was time to stop believing that a single country or group of countries would resolve so complex a problem; too many crucial players had been sidelined for those efforts to succeed. A collective approach was now indispensable to create trust and offer guarantees to each of the parties. The peace would be built by the Israelis and the Palestinians and by no one else; no one could impose peace upon them, but they must help.

In that regard, by setting preconditions for negotiations, “we doom ourselves to failure”, he said. “Let us cease endless debates on the parameters” and begin negotiations with an ambitious timetable, he said, calling in particular for the parties to take one month to resume discussions, six months to reach agreement on borders and security and one year to reach a “definitive agreement”. France also proposed to hold a donors conference to assist the Palestinians in completing the construction of their future State.

“We should not look for a perfect solution, because there are no perfect solutions,” he said. Instead, the path of compromise should be embraced. The Palestinians had been waiting for a State for more than 60 years, and meanwhile, Israel had been denied the right to live in peace. The question of peaceful coexistence of the two peoples had continued to fester. Who did not see that a democratic, viable and peaceful Palestinian State would be, for Israel, the best guarantee of security? In that vein, any threats made against a Member State of the United Nations were unacceptable. Should such threats be made, France would immediately and wholeheartedly stand beside Israel.

Member States today faced a choice, he said. Everyone knew that Palestine could not immediately obtain full and complete recognition of the status of a United Nations Member State. However, a veto in the Security Council risked engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East. “Let us not be diplomats for a day,” he told delegates, urging them not to exclude an intermediate stage in the conflict’s resolution, which would offer Palestine the status of a United Nations observer State. The ultimate goal must be the mutual recognition of two nation States for two peoples, established on the basis of the 1967 lines, with agreed and equivalent exchanges of land.

“Each [party] must make efforts to understand each other’s reasons, their sufferings and their fears,” he stressed. It was time for them to build peace for their children. Both Israeli and Palestinian mothers felt the same pain for the death of their children. At the same time, the United Nations should take the opportunity to “wake the Arab people up to the service of democracy”. A compromise solution would rebuild trust and give people hope. “We must not miss this appointment with history”; the solution was on the table, he concluded.

CRISTINA FERNÁNDEZ, President of Argentina, ...

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... Like the majority of South American countries, Argentina officially recognized the State of Palestine and believed its recognition as a United Nations Member State would prove beneficial to Israel. Furthermore, excluding Palestine would create greater global instability. Allowing Palestine to take its seat as Member State number 194 would result in a world that was not only more secure but also more just.

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MICHEL SLEIMAN, President of Lebanon, ...

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As dramatic events had spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, he said his country had hailed all peaceful approaches to reform and to preserving dignity and fundamental freedoms. Indeed, only through such principles could dignity, freedom and lasting development be ensured by all societies. Events in the Arab world must foster good and avoid “veering towards extremism or fragmentation on religious and sectarian grounds”. As the impact of those events reverberated, the international community must recognize the importance of ending oppression for all those that were marginalized. Most importantly, that would mean engaging seriously and urgently to ensure a just and lasting solution to all aspects of the conflict in the Middle East, based on all international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Such a move, he said, would lead to a renewed dialogue of understanding between the West and the Arab world and end decades of misunderstanding. The overall effort should include support for the legitimate cries of the Palestinian people for self-determination. It was important to note that until a just and final political solution was agreed, which guaranteed the return of all Palestinian refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) remained responsible for the Palestinian peoples’ well-being. The agency’s budget, therefore, needed steady support, and its work must not be merged with that of other United Nations organs or bodies.

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ABDULLAH II, King of Jordan, ...

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Turning to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he described “a dangerous impasse” in negotiations. “Frustrations are at a peak,” he added, pointing to continued Israeli settlement activity despite international protest in Jerusalem, and touching on final status issues that he stressed could only be resolved through negotiations. He warned of a severe crisis that would arise from harm to the holy sites of any faith in that city, adding that Muslims around the world were bound by “a sacred chain”. Only a two-State solution that met the needs of both sides could bring about lasting peace. Thus, negotiations must go forward, and the key issues of borders, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements must be resolved.

He said that Arabs viewed positively the parameters for a solution set out by United States President Barack Obama and ideas put on the table by the diplomatic Quartet, but Israel responded by building settlements. In the resulting impasse, Jordan and the Arab States were holding fast to the principles of peace and law and had come to the United Nations “to seek the justice of nations”. It was the right of the Palestinian people to come to this “house of nations” to seek to fulfil their aspirations in accordance with United Nations resolutions and within a comprehensive settlement. “This we must all support”, he said.

In that context, he said, he sought “a new and vigorous international push, with concrete steps toward the end-game. Not words, not process”. What was sought was a peace that came from statehood and recognized rights for Palestinians and that brought real security to Israel, ending “their fortress mentality and achieving acceptance in their neighbourhood and the world”. Around the world, too many people’s hopes for the basic components of a better life were unanswered. “But a new era is beginning in my region, with new opportunities to move forward in democracy, security and peace,” he concluded.

TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, ...

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Finally, she said, reaching a solution to the Middle East conflict was more pressing than ever. The Palestinians had a right to their own State, and the United Nations must show that it was united in its message to the parties to that conflict. She called for the urgent resumption of negotiations that would lead, within an agreed time frame, to a two-State solution.

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, President of Colombia, ...

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... As a supporter of direct dialogue and effective mediation, Colombia was concerned about the cessation of peace talks in the Middle East and implored the parties to return to the table. That was the only way to secure the desired outcome, he stressed, drawing a parallel to the path of South Sudan, which Colombia welcomed as the newest United Nations Member State. ...

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MICHELINE CALMY-REY, President of Switzerland, ...

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She noted with regret that the spirit of optimism generated by the “Arab Spring” had not breathed new life into the Middle East Peace process. Following United States President Obama’s address last year, “for a few minutes, we dreamed” of peace between Palestine and Israel. Yet today, all looked with bitterness at the bleak horizon, darkened by “lead-footed progress, stagnation and hardened positions”. Indeed, it appeared that after 60 years, the “peace process” had replaced peace. Nevertheless, influential parties on both sides continued to work to unblock the stalemate. Indeed, she recalled that the Geneva Initiative was a “consolidated, detailed proposal”, compatible with internationally acceptable parameters, including the Arab Peace Initiative. It remained at the disposal of the relevant decision makers, as well as of the populations whose right it was to demand peace.

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PORFIRIO LOBO SOSA, President of Honduras, said the United Nations was still the best venue for efforts to further the well-being of humanity, adding that all peoples had a right to their own territories and traditions. In that context, Honduras had recognized Palestine as a State and looked forward to a negotiated settlement of the Middle East conflict on the basis of the two-State solution, corresponding to the needs of the two peoples involved.

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FERNANDO LUGO MENDEZ, President of Paraguay, ...

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Recalling that Paraguay had established diplomatic relations with Palestine in March 2005, he said it recognized a free, independent State within the pre-1967 borders. The Assembly’s inclusion of Palestinian statehood on its agenda was the consecration of the international community’s historical debt to the Palestinian people to ensure their right to their own State, and it would contribute significantly to the Middle East peace process. ...

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BHARRAT JAGDEO, President of Guyana, ...

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Underscoring that peaceful peoples everywhere must be supported in asserting their basic rights, he said the global response to the Arab Spring was “remarkable for its inconsistency”, and also supported the right of the Palestinian people to full statehood. ...

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JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, ...

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... He also expressed full support for the Palestinian Authority and its intention to seek United Nations membership for the State of Palestine. “It is a decisive step towards achieving lasting peace, economic cooperation and prosperity for the millions of people in the Middle East,” he said, ....

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ANDRIS BĒRZIŅŠ, President of Latvia, ...

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... Israel and Palestine should resume dialogue without delay, and the international community must help them reach a two-State agreement that took into account both parties’ legitimate interests.

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ABDOULAYE WADE, President of Senegal, ...

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He said that his country, as President of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, supported Palestine’s application for statehood. He denied, however, a recent statement by the Prime Minister of Israel that he had himself been a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stressing that he had never been one and had never sought to be one. He had once, however, intervened unsuccessfully for the release of a young Israeli soldier. “We ought to do more than have one person or one country mediate in such a complicated situation,” he said. To mitigate fear and mistrust between Israel and Palestine, three States chosen by both parties should determine their demands for a resumption of direct dialogue, he suggested.

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ARMANDO EMÍLIO GUEBUZA, President of Mozambique, ...

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... On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he urged the parties to commit themselves to the re-launch of negotiations towards concrete actions aimed at realizing a lasting, comprehensive and fair solution. He also reiterated unequivocal support for the cause of the Palestinian people and a two-State solution based on 1967 borders.

DANILO TÜRK, President of Slovenia, also welcomed the mediation theme as timely, given current focus on finding a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mediation under way through the European Union aimed to revive the peace process and find an early solution, while determining an adequate status for Palestine within the ranks of the United Nations, he said.

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For information media • not an official record


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