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11th plenary meeting
Monday, 28 September 2009, 9 a.m.
The meeting was called to order at 9.05 a.m.
Agenda item 8 (continued)
Mr. Acharya (Nepal), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The Acting President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Marco Hausiku, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Namibia.
Mr. Hausiku (Namibia): ...
Similarly, Namibia is deeply concerned about the continuing suffering of the people of Palestine under Israeli occupation. We wish to reaffirm our full and unequivocal support for the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine to self-determination, including the return to their land. I wish to again call upon the parties to resume the peace process on the basis of all relevant United Nations resolutions.
The President returned to the Chair.
The President (spoke in Arabic): I now call on His Excellency Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al-Khalifa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Shaikh Al-Khalifa (Bahrain) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
The Arab-Israeli conflict of the past six decades has had a great effect on our generation. It is a sad legacy that has left behind misery and human suffering, poisoned international and regional relations and continues periodically to exacerbates tension, violence and military confrontation in the Middle East. We have tried repeatedly and in vain to find a solution to this chronic conflict. To be sure, one conference after another has been held, and initiative has followed initiative. But we have been unable to deliver our message to the minds, hearts and homes of the people of the region. That is the essence of the proposal that His Highness Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain, presented in his article published in The Washington Post on 16 July, which makes a meaningful contribution to the adoption of a pragmatic approach to ending the conflict. His Highness wrote:
Careful examination of this argument reveals the correct approach to addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict, namely, directly and expeditiously communicating our Arab Peace Initiative to the Israeli people through their own information and news media. In so doing, we will be in a better position to explore the path to peace.
Today, wisdom requires that we use available communications and media technology prudently and with awareness in order to establish the channels and structures that will enable us as leaders, Governments and civil society to establish the will and momentum necessary to create an environment conducive to advancing the peace that we aspire to. Because today, dialogue has become an omnipresent issue on the global agenda of the United Nations and other international forums, as shown by the many ongoing dialogues, including the dialogue among civilizations, dialogue of cultures and the interfaith dialogue. All these processes aim at enhancing peaceful coexistence between nations and peoples and represent the principal course of action to eliminate the causes of conflict, tension and discord.
The Arab Peace Initiative unequivocally confirmed that position. We therefore expect the international community, and particularly the most influential leading Powers, to exert effective pressure on Israel to freeze and eventually dismantle all settlements established in the territories occupied in 1967, to ensure demarcation of the borders of the Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, peacefully coexisting with Israel, and to withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan and Lebanese territories, in conformity with the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy and the requirements of the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Here I would like to commend the speech of President Barack Obama, delivered from this very rostrum, which we consider a frame of reference for the resumption of the Middle East peace process. President Obama explicitly affirmed the need to relaunch negotiations on final status issues — notably, security for both Israelis and Palestinians, boundaries, refugees and Jerusalem — rejected the continued illegitimate Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian territories and called for the creation of a contiguous and viable Palestinian State.
The President (spoke in Arabic ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Abdelwaheb Abdallah, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tunisia.
Mr. Abdallah (Tunisia) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
Many international problems, particularly in the Middle East, remain unresolved and are a source of deep concern for the international community, with negative consequences for security and stability in the region and the world. From this rostrum, we reaffirm Tunisia’s constant and principled support for the just Palestinian cause and the brotherly Palestinian people in their struggle to recover their legitimate rights and to establish their independent State on their own land.
We note with satisfaction the positive stance of the United States Administration on the Middle East issue, the elements of a just and comprehensive settlement of the conflict, the two-State solution, and subsequent international efforts and momentum to revive the peace talks.
Today, we renew our appeal to the international community, especially the sponsors of the peace process, to intensify their efforts so as to compel Israel to end its settlement policy, without preconditions, thus enabling talks between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to resume, in accordance with international resolutions, all peace terms of reference and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Achieving peace and ensuring security and stability in the Middle East will require Israel to lift the blockade, dismantle the roadblocks and abandon its humiliating measures and other provocative steps against the Palestinians, as well as the recovery by the Palestinian people of its legitimate national rights, the establishment of its independent State, and Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan and the Lebanese lands that remain under Israeli occupation.
The President (spoke in Arabic ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Walid Al-Moualem, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Mr. Al-Moualem (Syria) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
We come here every year and stress from this very rostrum, as do many others, that the Middle East is one of the most tense regions of the world and that the situation is extremely ominous. From this very rostrum, most speakers stress that a just and comprehensive peace is an urgent requirement for the realization of the interests of all parties in the region and the world at large. However, paying lip service to the need for peace is obviously different from working for peace. Actions inside and outside the region have spoken louder than words, and peace has remained elusive for years.
During that time, Israel waged two devastating wars against Lebanon and Gaza. It had no qualms about committing internationally prohibited acts or breaching international law, encouraged and protected by the Administration of former United States President Bush. To date, Israel continues to impose a stifling siege on Gaza, in contravention of the most basic humanitarian principles and tenets of international humanitarian law. These facts have been confirmed by many investigations, and were most recently published in the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. The head of the Mission concluded that Israel had committed grave violations of human rights law, and international humanitarian law, including war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.
The international approach to the Middle East question has changed in previous years. Addressing this issue has become a priority, and has been followed by immediate action on the ground. This is certainly reassuring. It is our sincere hope that these efforts will bear fruit. But the engagement by the new United States Administration, the members of the Security Council, the European Union, the Organization for the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement has been continuously confronted with Israeli measures and positions that ignore the most basic underpinnings of the peace process. Israel defies the policies of its friends and allies and undermines their will. Israel also challenges the will of the overwhelming majority — if not the entirety — of the international community. Perhaps more than ever before, Israel has now revealed its true colours: an entity that has enshrined racism, aggression and tension-building while balking at peace and repudiating the advocates of peace.
Israel refuses to freeze illegitimate settlement building and is thus in breach of its obligations under international law. Israel continues to confiscate Palestinian land, build the apartheid wall, Judaize Jerusalem, expel inhabitants from their homes and bring in settlers to replace them. This list is in no way exhaustive. These facts are substantiated by figures but, in the interest of time, we shall not dwell on them in detail. Suffice it to say that the two-State solution advocated by the international community has been rejected by the Israeli Government. The Israeli Prime Minister’s comments on the subject are sheer tactical manoeuvres that are contradicted entirely by the policies pursued by his Government on the ground.
President Bashar Al-Assad has said that peace is antithetical to occupation. Peace and occupation cannot coexist. He stressed that we in Syria seek a just and comprehensive peace and that peace is our strategic choice. It is a choice based on the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace and the Arab Peace Initiative. We have supported every effort aimed at achieving this goal. To that end, we entered into indirect talks with Israel through Turkish mediation and sought to arrive at common ground that would ultimately enable us to launch direct negotiations. But the absence of genuine political will to make peace and the war of aggression that the Israeli Government waged against Gaza brought this pursuit to a halt.
In full view of the world and in defiance of its unanimous will, Israel has chosen to be a rejectionist State. It has chosen to challenge the international community. This is a dangerous position and a stance that threatens peace and security in the region. The continued occupation, the Judaization of Jerusalem, the intensification of settlement activities and the racist slogans presage serious consequences for the world. The world must not succumb to the dictates of Israeli extremists. It must not allow Israel to persist in its violation of international law and its defiance of international will and decisions.
The President (spoke in Arabic ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani, Adviser to the President of the Republic of the Sudan.
Mr. Atabani (Sudan) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
The United Nations rostrum is being used by some to serve narrow interests such that the concept of human rights has become a tool for ceaseless politicization and score settling. In the same vein, the often misused concept of terrorism has led to the victim being equated with the aggressor, as is currently evident in the plight of the Palestinian people, who are still chafing under the yoke of occupation. As a result, the Palestinian question has remained unsolved, which has gravely compromised the reputation and credibility of the United Nations.
The President (spoke in Arabic ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Yousef Bin Al-Alawi Bin Abdulla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman.
Mr. Abdulla (Oman) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
There is no doubt that the United Nations has achieved much during its more than 60 years of joint international action. Its achievements have made a positive contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security. The Organization has provided technical assistance to developing countries in their socio-economic development projects, and has helped to reach consensus on many political issues and conflicts, contributing to the development of international peacekeeping mechanisms.
And yet the Palestinian issue remains unresolved despite all the efforts of Arab countries and the international community. We believe that the Arab Peace Initiative and international peace efforts are the most appropriate way to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of an end to occupation, the return of Arab lands occupied since 1967, the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital and the removal of all the illegal and illegitimate Israeli settlements. This would indeed help to achieve peaceful coexistence and positive cooperation between Arab States and Israel, and would contribute greatly to opening new horizons of cooperation, progress and development in the region and the world at large. Peace based on those principles would be one of the most important achievements of the people of the region and would pave the way towards ending regional crises and eradicating the root causes of terrorism.
We thus call on Israel to seize the historic Initiative and join the efforts to establish a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, one that would bring security and peaceful coexistence to all the States and peoples of the region. Squandering this historic opportunity would constitute a grave loss for the Israeli people, and we would all regret it.
Mr. Viinanen (Finland), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The Acting President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Péter Balázs, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary .
Mr. Balázs (Hungary): ...
In the Middle East, Hungary warmly welcomes the commitment of the United States to vigorously pursue a two-State solution and a comprehensive peace. It is now up to the parties themselves to engage in a meaningful process of negotiation. It is our responsibility to assist them in carrying the process forward.
The meeting rose at 2.05 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 U-506. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.