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Agenda item 9 (continued)
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan.
Mr. Ismail (Sudan) (spoke in Arabic): ...
/... The United Nations Charter calls for the important peaceful resolution of disputes and emphasizes the important role of regional organizations therein. The Sudan is currently presiding over two regional organizations, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). In some countries of these two organizations there are conflicts that are the subject of much thought in the world today. IGAD is endeavouring to resolve the conflicts in Somalia and the Sudan. Through the OIC, whose membership includes Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine and Bosnia and Herzegovina, among 57 other countries forming almost one third of the General Assembly, we are sparing no effort to find solutions to serious conflicts at the national and regional levels.
Without resolving the root causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict, by ending the occupation, implementing lawful international resolutions, restoring the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including its right to establish an independent state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, peace, security and stability will not be achieved in this volatile region of the world.
The President : I now call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, His Excellency
Mr. Hassan Wirayuda.
Mr. Wirayuda (Indonesia): ...
Multilateral affirmative action can also bring about peace, where for many years there has only been violence and bloodshed. In the Middle East, the Powers that wield great influence on the region are called upon to adopt a just and balanced approach to the issue of Palestine. They can, if they wish, persuade Israel to withdraw its forces from the occupied territories and to cease settlement activities in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.
That will help pave the way for the realization of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side within secure internationally recognized borders. Only then will peace have a real chance.
In this context we note with interest the communiqué issued yesterday by the Quartet on the Middle East outlining a roadmap to realize such a vision.
Elsewhere, it is important to recall that the situation in Iraq has been an issue that has occupied the Security Council for some time. Hence, while over the past weeks we have witnessed an intensification of the international focus on this issue, we must not lose sight of the fact that mechanisms already exist within the United Nations system to address the issue. In tackling the present challenge, Indonesia deems it necessary that peaceful efforts be fully exhausted and existing United Nations mechanisms be fully utilized, and, if need be, strengthened.
Any unilateral use of force risks not only undermining the authority of the United Nations, but would also carry the grave potential of destabilizing the immediate region, and indeed beyond, with its attendant humanitarian implications.
For its part, Iraq must fully comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions. We are encouraged by the recent decision by the Government of Iraq to allow the return of United Nations inspectors. We trust that this will pave the way to a peaceful solution of the problem and preclude any attack against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.
The situation in Iraq cannot be viewed in isolation. How we address this problem will have repercussions on the longer-standing issue of Palestine and the challenge of terrorism.
The President : I now give the floor to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, His Excellency Mr. Shimon Peres.
Mr. Peres (Israel): ...
Terror creates poverty more than poverty creates terror. Terror leads to backwardness. We have to offer the economic potential to open prospects and horizons for all nations, poor and rich. New opportunities can bring enfranchisement. We have to close ranks to prevent distorted dreams from becoming a raging typhoon that reaches all four corners of the globe. We have experienced in our own country the terrible effects of terrorism.
Babies were shot in the arms of their mothers. People at prayer were killed while praying. Yes, it hurt us, but it did not change our goals. We mourn, but we did not bury peace.
It harmed the Palestinians in the United States and in other countries. It prevented the occupation from ending. It introduced additional problems and did not solve a single existing problem.
Alas, the Middle East is still replete with national, religious and territorial disputes. The land is small; the agony is great. But the real tragedy is that without terror we could already have resolved these disputes. Terror entrenched them. Terror changed priorities — security before policy. It affected resources — arming young men, for example, instead of desalinating vital water. If it continues, battlefields will create deserts of sorrow and days of darkness. Campuses of learning will be replaced by camps of violence.
But this is neither a decree of heaven nor the verdict of man. It can, it should, it will be different. South Africa, Ireland, Yugoslavia and the Congo achieved more by talking than by shooting, more by dialogue than by dispute. We offered the Palestinians a comprehensive solution without the terror — a solution that was close to their national aspirations. We related to their desire to be free, to be equal, to be independent. We agreed that they would have their land in accordance with United Nations resolutions. But terror postponed their destiny. Terror postponed our willingness to end control over their lives. Smoking guns replaced the torches of peace.
Now we are following the profound debate taking place among the Palestinians. We respect it, because debate is the beginning of democracy. When democracy prevails, peace undoubtedly will arrive. The Fatah organization apparently issued a call that contains some new approaches. I shall quote one of them:
“We will build an independent State of Palestine and a political system in accordance with the principles of democracy, the rule of law, with an independent judicial system, separation of power, respect for human rights, civil liberties and a market economy.”
We look upon these words as the dawn of a different season; we hope that it is spring. Reducing violence will shorten political distances. Political horizons are, in my judgement, within reach. Israel accepts President Bush’s vision. That vision is supported by the Quartet; it is endorsed by Arab countries; it outlines a political goal and a timetable. It can be considered as both a road map and a calendar. What is needed now are wheels to propel the vehicles of peace. An economic wheel is needed in order for us to move to a global market economy that leads to science-based industry. A market economy can open gates and skies. An ecological wheel is needed to let air and water flow cleanly. Pollution is not national; we have to work together to control it. Ecology has changed history. In the past, bloodshed was about real estate, and real estate created divisions, demarcation and, unfortunately, wars as well. In our era, the battle is not for real estate but for air, for water and for energy; it is about the fertility of the land, rather than its size. “Non-real” estate is not marked, nor can it be divided. Either we respect it unanimously, or we will be victimized by its loss.
Then there is the cultural wheel. Three civilizations were born in the Middle East. They were made manifest in the Bible, in the New Testament and in the Koran. We read them in different languages, yet we pray to the same heavens. The descendants of Abraham should behave like a family — with tolerance and solidarity. Spiritual leaders should pray for peace, but they also need to preach it, call upon it and contribute to it.
The political wheel should not rotate in the same misguided orbit as in the past. We have been through five wars in five decades — Palestinians, Egyptians and Jordanians lost generations of young people. We paid heavily with young blood as a result of three terror campaigns. The time has come to comprehend that the real triumph is in the harvest of peace, not in the seeds of another war. When we replace the war maps with peace maps, we will discover that the differences were minimal. The wars were appalling. We shall see that the promised land could have become the land of promise a long time ago.
Without wars, our region will be able to bloom again. We can separate politically into two States and coordinate one economy. That will enable us to take advantage of the exceptional invitation that came from both the United States and a united Europe to partake in their economic opportunities.
Tourism can flourish when terrorism has ended. Islands of high-tech excellence can be established. Millions of trees can be planted to produce a new climate. We can make green our arid lands. We can become contributors, not dependants.
The call of the future cannot be harmonized with the voices of the past. Only new solutions can evoke a grandeur equal to the past. We do not have the right to suspend it in the face of our children. Young Israelis and young Palestinians are entitled to a new life — a life of their own. While fighting terror, let us not fight people. While seeking freedom, let us not extend subjugation.
I should like to direct a comment to Syria. The same principle that enabled us both to participate in the Madrid conference a decade ago is still valid.
A word to Lebanon: Israel is committed to the territorial integrity of Lebanon. Israel respects its need for real political independence. Lebanon should not permit Hezbollah to destroy its own country. Hezbollah is not a party, it is a dangerous agenda. Lebanon should immediately free Israeli prisoners and prisoners of war.
The people of the Middle East should let bygones be bygones. Let us return to our traditions, where prophets, not terrorists, told the future. Let us return to our landscape, where the blue skies did not surrender to the heavy clouds of despair; to a time when justice promised equal opportunities for individuals and for nations. Let us join, together, the march of mankind towards new discoveries that will make life more purposeful and may bring security to posterity.
We were born in the cradles of hope, not in the tombs of despair. We guard our spiritual heritage, and it is not antithetical to building a new Middle East. The world is new.
I should like to conclude with an old verse from our scriptures:
“The Lord led Adam through the Garden of Eden and said to him, ‘All I created, I created for you. Beware lest you spoil and destroy my world, for if you spoil it, there is no one to repair it after you’.”
We are here to repair.
The President: I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Hor Namhong, Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia.
Mr. Hor Namhong (Cambodia) (spoke in French): ...
On regional issues that concern the whole international community, I wish to raise the Middle East conflict first. I believe that the international community has to help find a viable solution which could bring lasting peace to the region. Cambodia strongly believes that violence in any form is not a solution. On the contrary, violence provokes more violence. The Palestinian people have an inalienable right to dispose of their own State, living in peace with Israel. I think that both sides must have the wisdom to understand that they are condemned to living side by side forever. Therefore, it is better for both sides to remain at peace with each other than to engage in endless war.
The Acting President : I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Augusto Casali, Minister for Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino.
Mr. Casali (San Marino) ( spoke in Italian; English text provided by delegation ): ...
It is a disgrace that a solution to the ongoing conflict and violence in the Middle East seems out of reach. Terrorist attacks and military reprisals further exacerbate hatred and revenge, undermining any possibility of promoting negotiations and dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. San Marino is deeply concerned about the worsening situation in this area and strongly condemns the spiral of violence plaguing that region and indiscriminately causing victims every day, mainly among civilians, especially women and children.
Israel has the legitimate right to exist within its own borders and to defend and protect its own population. Palestinians have the same legitimate right, to live on their own land and the right to self-determination within their own State. Therefore, we deem it imperative that both parties respect the rules of international law and fully comply with all United Nations resolutions. Most recently, tensions have escalated further because of the possibility of a war against Iraq in order to remove its President, Saddam Hussein.
The Acting President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. François Lonsény Fall, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Guinea.
Mr. Fall (Guinea) (spoke in French ): ...
In the Middle East, the conflict situation persists. The cycle of acute violence over the past two years has widened further the gap between the parties, reinforcing the wall of misunderstanding. The Government of Guinea is convinced that the application of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) will allow Palestinians and Israelis to coexist peacefully within secure and internationally recognized borders. We appeal to the two parties to comply unconditionally with Council resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002). We reaffirm the support and the solidarity of Guinea to the brotherly people of Palestine, to the Palestinian Authority and to its head, President Yasser Arafat, who has fought courageously for the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State for more than 50 years.
The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Nguyen Dy Nien, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam.
Mr. Nguyen Dy Nien (Viet Nam): ...
... The Organization must enhance its efforts to help resolve protracted conflicts, especially those in the Middle East, by peaceful means and free from intervention and imposition. In this vein, we reiterate our full support for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination and to live in an independent and sovereign State.
The Acting President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Leonardo Santos Simão, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique.
Mr. Simão (Mozambique): ...
My Government has been following with keen interest the latest developments in the Middle East. We urge both parties to return to the negotiating table to find a lasting peace in that region; such a peace must include an independent Palestinian State living side by side with Israel, and the solution of outstanding issues deemed important by both parties. Without a comprehensive and just solution to the question of Palestine, and without full respect for the legitimate interests of all the peoples of the region, the prospects of peace will remain elusive and distant. The international community should encourage both Israelis and Palestinians to work hard for peace, drawing on all the strength and resolve they need to overcome obstacles along the way. Taking into account our own experience in Mozambique, we believe that peace is a real possibility in the Middle East, and that the parties must seize the opportunity now.
The Acting President: I call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of Lebanon, His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Hammoud.
Mr. Hammoud (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic): ...
The events of 11 September 2001 impeded the convening of the ninth summit of the Francophonie, scheduled to be held last year under the theme of “Dialogue among civilizations”. My country is proud to be hosting the conference in mid-October. There is no doubt that the choice of theme for the conference before these dramatic events arose from the foresight of its members and participants and from their conviction of the need to interact and to engage in dialogue, far removed from the logic of confrontation and hostility.
Lebanon itself was the target of terrorist acts prior to 11 September 2001 and its army stood up to the perpetrators and overcame them. Lebanon and its Arab brothers have been suffering from the State terrorism continuously practised by Israel without international deterrence since the Deir Yassin massacre and the massacres in the Qana and Jenin camps.
Israel has recently begun to manipulate the tragic events of September 2001 and the international campaign to combat terrorism, using them shamelessly as a pretext for persecuting the Palestinian people and depriving them of their right to self-determination. Israel has launched a slanderous campaign of threats against Lebanon and its legitimate resistance, as well as against Syria, while the origin of the conflict in the region is the Israeli occupation of Arab territories.
The reality is that Israel has continuously defied resolutions of international legitimacy. Israel has disregarded Security Council resolution 425 (1978) for more than 22 years and has refused to implement the Security Council resolution calling for the establishment of a fact-finding mission to investigate the Jenin camp massacre. It has resorted to terror and violence to implement expansionist and settlement policies. It has accumulated weapons of mass destruction in an arsenal primarily stacked with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. It continues to oppose all attempts to reach a just and comprehensive peaceful solution to the Middle East issue, and remains, nonetheless, in total impunity, never held accountable or punished for its actions. That situation can only strengthen the impression among Arab Governments and peoples that there is a double standard at play in international affairs, and that, regrettably, Israel is allowed to remain outside and above the law.
Shimon Peres today accused Hezbollah of terrorism because it has effectively contributed to the legitimate resistance against Israeli occupation and to forcing Israeli forces to withdraw from most occupied Lebanese territory.
Hezbollah is represented in Lebanese parliament and participates in the political, economic and social life of Lebanon.
Mr. Peres is in fact the last person who should have the right to talk about terrorism. He is the one responsible directly for the killing of 102 women, children and elderly at Qana when Israel bombed the UNIFIL tent where they had sought safety and shelter. Israel should be held accountable for such crimes.
Israel was founded on terrorism and has used it to occupy land and establish faits accomplis.
If Israel’s perpetration of the massacres of Dair Yasin, Qana and Jenin is not terrorism, then what is terrorism?
Is not Israel’s daily breaking of the sound barrier over Lebanese cities and villages a form of terrorism and intimidation?
Is not Israel’s kidnapping of Lebanese citizens from their homes and detaining them in Israeli prisons as hostages another form of terrorism?
Is not leaving hundreds of thousands of landmines in south Lebanon to kill civilians a form of terrorism that should be strongly condemned?
Is not Israel’s constant threat of invading Lebanon and destroying its civil institutions, infrastructure and development projects a terrible form of terrorism, devastating to our hopes in reconstruction and rehabilitation?
As if occupying Arab lands and terrorizing their civilian populations were not enough, Israeli greed prompts Israel to usurp our natural wealth and water resources, contravening international laws and instruments. The Israeli Prime Minister directly threatened to attack Lebanon, using the pretext that we are diverting the course of the Hasbani and Wazzani rivers. However, the fact is that Lebanon is trying to draw limited amounts of water for some poor southern villages that have suffered from the Israeli occupation for many years, which will lead us to pump a total of approximately 9 million cubic metres annually. By all standards, that amount is far below our legitimate rights, it represents only one tenth of our right.
Lebanon again rejects those Israeli threats and draws the attention of the Assembly and the Security Council to the danger those threats represent and to their direct negative impact on international peace and security. It is difficult for any human society to strive for security in the absence of political, economic and social justice. We, therefore, believe that security approaches and partial interim solutions alone cannot possibly succeed in resolving the Middle East conflict. Therefore, we call for the adoption of an approach that takes into account the priority of the political dimension of the conflict and the need to arrive at a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict in the region in all its aspects.
In that context, Arab leaders unanimously adopted an integral, indivisible peace initiative at the Arab Summit, held in Beirut on 28 and 29 March 2002, based on the following conditions.
First, Israel must withdraw completely from the occupied Arab territories, including the occupied Syrian Golan, to the border of 4 June 1967, and from the territories it still occupies in southern Lebanon; secondly, it must reach a just solution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees, to be agreed upon in accordance with General Assembly resolution 194 (III); thirdly, it must agree to the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State in the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Subsequently, the Arab States will consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, will enter into a peace agreement with Israel, will ensure security for all the countries of the region and will establish normal relations with Israel in the context of that just peace. A central element of the Arab peace initiative is securing an agreement not to allow any type of resettlement of Palestinian refugees that is incompatible with the particularities of the host Arab countries.
It is unfortunate that Israel has responded to that initiative by increasing its aggression and reoccupying the West Bank, relentlessly targeting human lives and property in the occupied Palestinian territory. Simultaneously, others have chosen to ignore or override the initiative, despite its comprehensiveness, unanimous acceptance by Arabs and broad international support.
The Beirut Summit established a special committee to implement the Arab peace initiative. Once formed, the committee requested a meeting with the Quartet to present the initiative and confirm its status as a point of reference for the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The initiative contains all previous references dating back to the Madrid Peace Conference, held in 1991, and is based on resolutions of international legitimacy. We seek to submit it to the Security Council for adoption and for the subsequent establishment of an international mechanism to implement it.
A meeting was held yesterday between the Quartet and a delegation of the committee at United Nations Headquarters. We hope that this will pave the way for a mechanism of prior consultations and joint effort based on resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab peace initiative.
The Arab peace initiative, which we uphold and which was adopted unanimously by the Arab countries, represents a historic opportunity that may not present itself again. It cannot be replaced by partial or interim approaches, the futility of which has been proven throughout decades. Instead of leading to the long-awaited peace, they have led to renewed violence. We, therefore, call upon the international community to adopt this initiative and to support it, as it represents an opportunity for achieving our aspirations — a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Submitting disputes before the United Nations and implementing United Nations resolutions, particularly those of the Security Council, can guarantee the peaceful settlement of any given conflict. By following that course, the parties could be spared the need to settle their dispute by military means. It may not be easy to contain the tragic ramifications of military action in a given region. That is particularly true of Iraq, which also was the subject of deliberations at the Beirut Arab Summit. It was also decided there that the solution to the Iraqi problem must be achieved through dialogue between Iraq and the United Nations. Iraq should not once again be a theatre of war, which would increase the suffering of its people. The Arab leaders consider an attack against any Arab State a threat to the national security of all Arab countries.
As president of the Arab Summit, Lebanon hopes that Iraq’s compliance with the will of the international community and allowing the return of the international weapons inspectors will lead to the end of the suffering of its people and to a comprehensive solution that will lead to the implementation of Security Council resolutions and to the lifting of sanctions. We also hope that that will enable the Middle East to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and will avert the threat or use of force against Iraq, thus preserving and respecting its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
Lebanon takes pride in its strong and positive relationship with the United Nations, being one of its co-founders and having contributed to the drafting of its Charter as well as to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As members may be aware, since 1978, the Organization has deployed the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the aftermath of the Israeli occupation. In May 2000, UNIFIL had the opportunity to begin fulfilling its mandate after Israel had been forced to withdraw from most of the territories in the south. That withdrawal was possible thanks to our people’s solidarity, their legitimate resistance to the Israeli occupation and the fact that our Government embraced their heroic efforts for liberation, and the international support for their just cause. The Lebanese Shebaa Farms, at the foot of Mount Hermon, and other points along the withdrawal line remained under occupation.
Another important aspect of UNIFIL’s mandate that has yet to be fulfilled is the restoration of international peace and security. That task remains hampered by Israel’s continued occupation, threats against Lebanon and provocations, as seen daily in the repeated violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty over its land, airspace and territorial waters. Israel continues to occupy the Syrian Golan and to ignore the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. It has rejected every initiative to find a just and comprehensive solution to the Middle East problem. I should like to take advantage of this opportunity to commend the efforts of the United Nations and UNIFIL’s important role as it fulfils its mandate.
The liberation of Lebanese territories from Israeli occupation will remain incomplete unless we address the heinous legacy of occupation and succeed in finding a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees, in particular those who live in Lebanon. Such a solution should be based on their right to return and on a rejection of their settlement in Lebanon. Failure to factor the refugees into the equation of a solution based on the right to return and on the rejection of resettlement in host countries would create a time bomb. It would undermine the security that we are all striving to attain in the Middle East on the basis of a peaceful, comprehensive and just settlement of the conflict.
We should like to stress here that a solution to the question of Palestinian refugees cannot be found through exclusive bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. Guaranteed respect for the rules of international law and the permanence of any solution require that host and other concerned countries, including Lebanon, be involved in the negotiating process.
With regard to mine clearance, Lebanon is stepping up its cooperation with the United Nations to assist in clearing the mines that the Israeli occupying forces are responsible for laying in our territories. I will note that Israel failed to hand over complete maps and records indicating the specific locations of those mines.
We in Lebanon attach the highest importance to the release of Lebanese citizens who are unduly detained in Israeli prisons. They were kidnapped by Israel and incarcerated as hostages, in flagrant defiance of the rules and instruments of international law.
It is no secret that the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon has taxed our endurance. Our citizens’ lives have been tragically shattered, their properties have been destroyed, their infrastructures have been decimated and our development has been hampered. Increased international assistance is required to revitalize our economy and to increase our opportunities for growth. Lebanon reserves the right to demand compensation for the damage caused by Israeli occupation and acts of aggression, in accordance with established procedures in international political and judicial forums.
The reconstruction and rehabilitation of the liberated Lebanese territories and the revitalization of Lebanon’s economy are among our Government’s highest priorities. Lebanon continues to work for the recovery of its economy and for the reform of its taxation system through the adoption of carefully developed measures and legislation, including the value-added tax on goods and services and the gradual reduction of tariffs, in addition to the direct tax levy and the rationalization of spending. Lebanon’s parliament recently adopted the Privatization Act, which regulates that aspect of economic activity and defines its conditions and field of application. Such legislation, including the two recently adopted acts, joins a series of laws developed to enhance investors’ confidence in the free-market system, which we are keen to preserve.
Along the same lines, those in positions of responsibility in the Lebanese Administration are subject to strict accountability and liability rules, including money-laundering and the prohibition of illegitimate gain. It is worth mentioning here that, over the years, the Lebanese internal security forces have destroyed all illegitimate crops, including hashish. But Lebanon did not receive the assistance, provided to others, that would have enabled our farmers to live in dignity.
Lebanon signed a partnership agreement with the European Union last June after acceding to the Greater Arab Free Trade Zone, to which most Arab States currently belong. Preparations are under way for us to join the World Trade Organization, in which we currently enjoy observer status.
We gather here under the roof of the United Nations, our common home, to engage in dialogue on the best ways to translate into reality the great values of the Charter. Lebanon takes pride in its firm belief in those values and in the fact that, in its national unity, it embodies the plurality of its society. It stands for a rich human experience, both civilized and pioneering, of which we are proud and which the international community is surely keen to preserve.
Lebanon looks forward to cooperating with other Members to contribute to this session’s success and to finding constructive solutions to the problems and challenges that we face, while upholding the principles of liberty, justice and peace around the world, particularly in the Middle East region. Finding a just and comprehensive solution to the Middle East conflict in all its aspects will surely liberate our States and peoples from the grip of a protracted problem that has depleted their resources and hampered their development.
The President: Once again, I appeal to everybody to limit their statements to the agreed 15 minutes, which also applies to this afternoon’s meeting.
I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Stafford Neil, chairman of the delegation of Jamaica.
Mr. Neil (Jamaica): ...
Over the past year, dramatic events have occurred which have brought old and new issues to the forefront of attention. We recall the shock and horror of the terrorist attacks on 11 September; the ensuing war in Afghanistan; the outbreak of renewed violence in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians; the escalation of old tensions in South Asia; and more recently, the threat of a new war in Iraq. All of these were given special attention by the Secretary-General in the presentation of his report to the General Assembly last Thursday. Jamaica commends the Secretary-General for the clarity of his vision on the role of the United Nations in the resolution of current global problems.
Of high importance on the agenda for immediate action is the situation in the Middle East, where recently we have witnessed so much death, destruction and human suffering, particularly among civilians. It should now be clear that the only true way to find peace and security is through laying the foundations for a just and durable settlement. What is needed now is a plan to move the process forward towards the convening of a peace conference. There has emerged a significant level of consensus on the main elements of a settlement — the withdrawal of Israel from occupied Palestinian territory; the exercise of self-determination for the Palestinian people and the establishment of arrangements for the two States of Israel and Palestine to coexist within clearly defined and internationally recognized boundaries. We believe it is important and urgent that advantage is taken of the present situation of relative calm to proceed towards negotiations involving the leadership of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The meeting rose at 1.35 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.