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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
28 September 2010

General Assembly
GA/11005

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

Sixty-fifth General Assembly
Plenary
21st & 22nd Meetings (AM & PM)


MINISTERS URGE SERIOUS STEPS TO END LONG-STANDING CONFLICTS,
 
SUPPORT FOR PEACE PROCESSES, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY'S ANNUAL DEBATE CONTINUES
 

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Background

The General Assembly met today to continue its general debate.

Statements

TONIO BORG, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta, ...

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... on an issue closely related to the Mediterranean, Malta joined others welcoming Israel and Palestine’s decision last month to resume direct negotiations, supporting creation of the right conditions where all peoples of the Mediterranean and the Middle East “will live in peace and prosperity”.

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AVIGDOR LIBERMAN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, said that his country was facing many pressures, which made his work as Foreign Minister difficult.  On the other hand, it was also easier than before, because the country had a stable coalition, a stable Government and the support of the majority of its citizens.  Israel was ready for a fair solution and to cooperate with the international community.  “However, we are not ready to compromise our national security or the vital interests of the State of Israel.”  Despite the impression given in the international media, Israel was not divided; everyone wanted peace and stability.  Rather, the controversy in Israel centred on the specific question of how to achieve peace, and how to reach security and stability in the region.

Despite the efforts of good people with the best of intentions, such as Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, despite the Camp David and Annapolis summits, there was still deadlock, he said.  In fact, contrary to the prevalent view, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not at the heart of instability in the Middle East.  Further, neither the so-called “occupation” nor the settlements in Judea and Samaria, and settlers themselves were at the root of the problem.  Peace agreements had been concluded with Egypt and Jordan despite the settlements; on the other hand, flourishing settlements had been evacuated in Gush Katif and more than 10,000 Jews transferred, yet Hamas was in power and thousands of missiles deployed.  It was also misguided and irresponsible to claim that the Palestinian issue prevented a determined international front against Iran.  That flawed argument was akin to saying that the Palestinian issue prevented action on North Korea or piracy in Somalia.  Just as the Khomeini Revolution had nothing to do with the Palestinians, so, too, was the Iranian decision to develop nuclear weapons unrelated to them.  The connection between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was precisely the reverse:  Iran could exist without Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah, but terrorist organizations could not exist without Iran.  “Relying on these proxies, Iran can, at any given time, foil any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians or with Lebanon.”  Therefore, in searching for a durable agreement with the Palestinians, one that would address the true roots of the conflict and endure for many years, the Iranian issue had to be resolved.

There was an utter lack of confidence over issues such as Jerusalem, recognition of Israel as the nation-State of the Jewish People, and refugees, he said.  Under such conditions, a focus needed to be placed on coming up with a long-term intermediate agreement, something that could take a few decades, so as to raise an entire new generation that would have mutual trust and not be influenced by incitement and extremist messages.  As was true everywhere, where there have been two nations, two religions and two languages with competing land claims, there has been friction and conflict; on the other hand, where effective separation had been achieved, conflict had been avoided, reduced or resolved.  Thus, the guiding principle for a final status agreement must not be land-for-peace, but exchange of populated territory.  That was not about moving people, but about moving borders to better reflect demographic realities.  That a mismatch between borders and nationalities was a recipe for conflict was a virtual truism in the academic community.  “Right-sizing the State” was the term coined to capture the idea that States must be in balance to ensure peace.  That was not a controversial political policy.  It was an empirical truth.

Beyond empirical truth, there was historical truth, he said.  The Jewish people had an unbreakable bond to its homeland.  “Israel is not only where we are.  It is who we are,” he said.  He referred to a quotation by the Jewish prophet Isaiah to be found outside the Headquarters of the United Nations that begins “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares…”, and hoped that the deep wisdom of those words would guide two peoples in two nation-States to live in peace and security.

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WALID AL-MOUALEM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, noting that the Middle East had been rife with tension for decades, said policies, interests and trends that had unfolded on its soil had, at times, converged and at other times, clashed.  Because of its location, the region influenced its neighbours in Asia, Europe and Africa.  Syria, at its heart, had experienced those tensions, which defined its perspective on external issues.  Safeguarding Syrian and Arab interests was the priority and the door was open for an in-depth dialogue that aimed to reconcile differences and provide a base for progress.  That had been Syria’s response when it endured attempts to isolate it.  Indeed, civilized international relations must be built on openness and dialogue, rather than isolation and aggression.

Israel’s land appropriation and settlement building continuing unabated, he said, and while peace talks were under way, such activities threatened to make the two-State solution a “dead letter” that stood no chance of survival.  Feverishly pursuing Judiazation plans in Jerusalem, Israel’s actions also threatened the safety of that city’s holy sites.  Through a fait accompli policy, Israel had imposed its will, regardless of whether talks continued.  “Peace can be genuine only if there is a genuine will to make peace,” he said, adding that Syria wished to see a just, comprehensive peace achieved by implementing Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and the Arab Peace Initiative.  The occupied Syrian Golan was not negotiable and recognition that it must be returned fully was the basis on which peacemaking plans should be made.  Syria was ready to resume peace talks from the point where they had stopped through the Turkish mediator, if it found in Israel a committed partner to such terms of reference.

Noting with satisfaction the Human Rights Council fact finding mission report on the Israeli attack on the “Freedom Flotilla”, he looked forward to conclusions being drawn.  On Iraq, Syria embraced any improvement in conditions “with a major sense of relief”, as Iraq’s sovereignty, preservation of Arab and Islamic identity and unity of its people were of the utmost priority.  The withdrawal of United States forces was a positive first step, and he expressed hope Iraq would ultimately develop strong military and security capabilities as a sovereign State.  Iraqi security was contingent on its national unity, based primarily on its Arab-Islamic identity and on the participation of all “stripes” of Iraqis in building a future.

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NICKOLAY E. MLADENOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, ...

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All Members should stand firmly behind efforts of Israeli and Palestinian leaders to achieve peace, recognizing legitimate concerns on both sides – Israel’s security and the viability of a Palestinian state.  Gaza had to be opened without compromising the security of Israel.  ...

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Opening the afternoon session of today’s debate, MUSA KOUSA, Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of Libya, ...

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... He condemned the deliberate confusion between the terrible phenomenon of terrorism and the biased distortion of the struggle of colonized people.  Libya believed in the right of people to resist foreign occupation.  The act of listing honourable liberation movements under the category of terrorist organizations could only entrench chaos, ambiguity and lack of clarity.  The manner in which the struggle of the Palestinian people was being labelled prejudiced their legitimate struggle.  It was fed by a racist creed that denied the right of existence and self-determination of the oppressed people.

SAYYID BADR BIN HAMAD BIN HAMOUD AL-BUSAIDI, Minister and Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oman, ...

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His country believed strongly that a solution to the conflict in the Middle East was imperative, he said.  While supporting the direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, facilitated and sponsored by the United States, he said that Israel’s policy was vague in accepting responsibility towards the requirements of peace.  Peace would entail the establishment of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the withdrawal of Israel from all Arab land to the borders of 4 June 1967.  He looked forward to the active, positive and continuing role by United States President Barack Obama, in order to reach a just and comprehensive settlement.

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KAMEL MORJANE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, ...

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He was deeply concerned about the situation in the Middle East, resulting from Israel’s disrespect for international law and for the basic reference points of the peace process.  Israel persisted in its policy of settlement and its attempts to obliterate the Arab-Muslim identity of the city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif.  He hoped that the resumption of direct peace talks, launched on 2 September, in Washington, D.C., would meet the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.  Influential parties, particularly the diplomatic Quartet, should act to get Israel to adhere to the requirements for peace, on the basis of international law, the terms of reference of the peace process and the Arab Peace initiative, and in accordance with a specific time schedule covering all the main points.  Israel should also end its occupation of the Syrian Golan and the remaining occupied Lebanese territories, in accordance with international law.

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MARTY M. NATALEGAWA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, ...

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...  His country would maintain its efforts to support the capacity-building of Palestine and support the Palestinian people’s preparation for their final exercise of their right of sovereignty.

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ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, ...

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Turning to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he said peace could not be achieved without ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories, and its withdrawal to the line of 4 June 1967, including East Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights and the remaining occupied territories in southern Lebanon.  The United Arab Emirates stood by the Palestinian National Authority and supported the Palestinian people in their quest for achieving their national goals and restoring their inalienable legitimate rights.  Commending President Mahmoud Abbas for continued efforts to restore his people’s rights, he affirmed support for the Authority’s position in direct talks with Israel.

His country hoped that the independent Palestinian State, with its capital Al-Quds Al-Sharif, saw the light next year.  He also welcomed the United States President’s emphasis on the importance of leading direct negotiations into final results within one year, and seeing Palestine take its seat in the Assembly’s sixty-sixth session.  His country’s commitment to the achievement of peace as a strategic choice made it imperative to condemn the Israeli practices committed against the Palestinian people. Continued Israeli settlement activities, and confiscation and judaization of Occupied Palestine and other Arab Territories clashed with the pursuit of peace.

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MOCTAR OUANE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, ...

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...He reaffirmed solidarity with the Palestinians for their own independent State and supported relevant United Nations resolutions.

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CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico) said the challenges currently confronting the international community included the continuation of impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the reconstruction of Haiti following the earthquake that had ravaged that country, and conflict in the Middles East.  Specifically on that point, he said that, despite 60 years of conflict, there was new hope for peace in the Middle East with the resumption of direct talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

Mexico believed that the creation of a politically and economically viable Palestinian State living side by side with a secure Israel was an essential condition for lasting peace in that region.  In that regard, his country welcomed the efforts of United States President Barack Obama to achieve that goal.  Noting that hope for a definitive agreement had been marred in the past by extremist forces that sought to derail the peace process, he said that the parties had a historic duty to reach an agreement and expressed the hope that they were up to the challenge.  Mexico pledged the support of States that were genuinely committed to peace.

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For information media • not an official record

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