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Video (62nd plenary meeting)

Des orateurs tirent la sonnette d’alarme à l’Assemblée Générale au regard du conflit israélo-palestinien qui continue à s’envenimer dans une région encerclée de conflit - Communiqué de presse (extraits) Français
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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
23 November 2015

23 November 2015

Speakers in General Assembly Sound Alarm as Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Continues to Fester in Region Embattled by Strife

Seventieth Session, 61st & 62nd Meetings (AM & PM)

The world was just one major provocation in Jerusalem away from a descent into an unprecedented religious war, the General Assembly was told today as it took up the question of Palestine and heard the introduction of four draft resolutions on that matter.

With conflicts in Syria and Yemen, a major refugee crisis, and violent extremism combining to create growing instability across the region, the question of Palestine took on even greater significance, said Mogens Lykketoft, the Assembly President. Expressing particular concern at the latest escalation of violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank, he called for strict compliance with international law.

Also sounding the alarm, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine said that the situation was unsustainable and that the international community, particularly the Security Council, must overcome its paralysis before all was completely lost and the two-State solution was destroyed. The question of Palestine was at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and its lack of resolution had a far-reaching impact in the region and across the globe.

The Israeli delegate said that if the Arab States had accepted the existence of a Jewish State alongside a State of their own, Israelis and Palestinians would have been spared decades of needless conflict. But instead of saying yes to living side-by-side with Israel in peace, the Palestinians had said no: no to peace and no to the existence of a Jewish State. He asked why they launched violent waves of terror every time they had the opportunity for statehood.

“Sadly, no end seems to be in sight” to the suffering, said the representative of Pakistan, who argued that durable peace could only be achieved through political solutions and not by heavy-handed tactics and the use of brute force against unarmed civilians. While the Council continued to “procrastinate and dither” for political reasons, the prospects of a two-State solution faded.

While several speakers alleged that Israeli settlement construction was to blame for the inaction, the representative of Lebanon commended the European Union’s request for clear marking of products from the settlements. Economic issues were also spotlighted by the representative of Nicaragua, who asked how it was possible for the Palestinian people to exercise their right to development without the necessary political and economic space, which had been usurped by Israel.


On the question of Palestine, additional statements were made by representatives of Indonesia, Malta, Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Kuwait on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bahrain and Venezuela. A European Union representative also spoke.

The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 24 November to conclude its consideration of the question of Palestine and take up the situation in the Middle East.


The General Assembly met today to conclude its debate on the refugee and migrant crisis in the Mediterranean basin, with specific emphasis on Syrian asylum-seekers (for background information, see Press Release GA/11729 of 20 November), as well as to discuss and take action on resolutions on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.

On the Palestinian issue, the Assembly had before it the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/70/35); the Secretary-General’s report on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (document A/70/354) and four draft resolutions: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/70/L.10); Division of Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat (document A/70/L.11); Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat (document A/70/L.12) and the Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (document A/70/L.13).

On the situation in the Middle East, the Assembly considered the Secretary-General’s eponymous report (document A/70/353) and two draft resolutions: Jerusalem (document A/70/L.14) and the Syrian Golan (document A/70/L.17).


Question of Palestine

MORGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), General Assembly President, said that with conflicts in Syria and Yemen, a major refugee crisis and violent extremism combining to create growing instability across the region, the question of Palestine took on even greater significance. In that context, he reaffirmed that the issue was the permanent responsibility of the General Assembly until a satisfactory resolution in accordance with international law was reached. Expressing particular concern at the latest escalation in violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank, he called for all involved to end the violence and comply strictly with international law. He also emphasized the importance of upholding the historic status quo at the Holy Sites, including the Haram al-Sharif. Ultimately, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders were responsible for avoiding inflammatory actions, preventing escalation and defusing tensions.

He recalled the Assembly’s repeated affirmations that the Israeli settlements in Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 were illegal. Meanwhile, it was a collective responsibility to ensure that the core mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was delivered in the most efficient manner. He called on the international community to help both parties return to meaningful negotiations to fulfil the vision of an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, within mutually recognized borders based on the pre-1967 lines.

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking as Vice-Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that “the shadows of war and terrorism are swirling over the region, and beyond”, adding that sympathies went out to the innocent victims of the barbaric atrocities that persisted around the world. It was important not to lose sight of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; violent extremists had often used the story of the unacceptable occupation as an effective recruitment tool. In 2015, the Committee had focused its programme on conferences, including one held in Brussels, which had concentrated on settlements as an obstacle to peace.

Gravely concerned by the latest escalation of violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank, he said that the Palestinians were desperate and the Israelis were terrorized. The international community was one major provocation in Jerusalem away from a descent into an unprecedented religious war.

He then introduced four draft resolutions, approved by the Committee, the first three of which were related to the work of the Committee, the Division for Palestinian Rights, and the Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information. The fourth draft, entitled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” reiterated the position of the General Assembly with regard to the essential elements of a settlement.

CHRISTOPHER GRIMA (Malta) speaking in his capacity as Rapporteur for the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced that body’s report (documentA/70/35). Reviewing its contents by chapter, he said that the last contained conclusions and recommendations of the Committee, which held, among other things, that the Committee would welcome a comprehensive regional solution, conceivably with support from a reinvigorated Quartet, which included greater engagement with key Arab States. The Committee also reiterated in its report that the Department of Public Information’s special information programme had made an important contribution to informing the media and the public of the issues, and requested the continuation of that programme.

RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, appealed urgently for more serious efforts to redress the injustice endured by the Palestinian people, who had been deprived of their freedom, stability, prosperity and hope. The international community continued to struggle with the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with a far-reaching impact in the region and across the globe. The right to the Palestinians’ self-determination remained unmet, despite countless General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, a landmark advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice in 2004, the global consensus, and the promise to the Palestinian people.

He said the political will and courage to implement the resolutions was lacking in the face of Israel’s total intransigence and disrespect for its legal obligations. The situation was unsustainable and the international community, particularly the Council, had to overcome its paralysis and confront the situation before all was completely lost and the two-State solution was destroyed. In the past year the situation had deteriorated on every front, as Israel, the occupying Power, continued its gross systematic breaches of international law, particularly of the Fourth Geneva Convention, with many violations tantamount to war crimes. Israel continued killing and injuring Palestinian civilians in military raids, air strikes and sniper attacks. Children and youths were being targeted by the excessive force and malice of the occupying forces and settlers.

Indeed, he said, the occupying Power was imprisoning, detaining and torturing thousands of Palestinians in its jails; destroying homes and infrastructure and forcibly displacing Palestinians, among them, entire Bedouin communities. It was also collectively punishing civilians through the Gaza blockade. Israel also continued settlement building, especially in occupied East Jerusalem. It had constructed its annexation wall and confiscated Palestinian land, demolishing homes and property and imposing hundreds of checkpoints, thereby impairing movement and harming socio-economic life. The Israeli Government, religious leaders, occupying forces and settlers had continued incursions and incitement in occupied East Jerusalem, particularly against the al-Haram al-Sharif and the al-Aqsa Mosque. Palestinian people had been dehumanized and characterized as “terrorists” and “animals”, including by Israel’s highest officials.

The international community’s continued appeasement and inaction could not be justified, he said, calling on it to ensure that Israel ceased its violations and complied with the law. The Council must respond to the situation by addressing the root causes of the conflict and charting a path for a credible political process, including by reaffirming the parameters of a just solution in line with relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative, and setting a clear timeframe for negotiations and an end to the occupation. There must be collective action to realize the two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders and a just solution for the Palestine refugee question, whereby the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and the State of Israel lived side by side within secure borders.

DANNY DANON (Israel) said it was unfortunate that the seventieth session had joined the pitiful United Nations tradition of passing more than 20 empty anti-Israel resolutions. Before all the needless documents and declarations, the Assembly had adopted a resolution to partition the British mandate into a Jewish State and an Arab State. Israel had accepted the partition and established a State for the sake of self-determination, while the Arabs rejected it and launched a war for the sake of annihilation. Despite all the years of distortion and disinformation, there was one simple truth about the conflict’s root cause: if the Arab States and the Arabs of mandatory Palestine had accepted the existence of a Jewish State alongside a State of their own, Israelis and Palestinians would have been spared decades of needless conflict. But instead of saying yes to living side-by-side with Israel in peace, the Palestinians had said no: no to peace and no to the existence of a Jewish State.

He said that the resolutions before the Assembly deliberately ignored the root cause of the conflict: the unwillingness of the Palestinians, even today, to accept a Jewish State in any part of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Since today’s meeting was debating the question of Palestine, he asked the Assembly why the Palestinians had rejected, three times, peace offers that would have granted them a State. He also asked why the Palestinians launched violent waves of terror every time they had the opportunity for statehood and why, after Yassir Arafat’s rejection of a Palestinian State at the 2000 Camp David Summit, had the Palestinian leadership ignited a five-year Intifada in which more than 1,000 Israelis were killed.

Looking for answers to those questions in the resolutions now under discussion, he said, was more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack. “Instead, it is business as usual at the UN – more hollow decisions and more barren gestures”. The biased resolutions would not bring the change need by the people in the region. “You can raise a Palestinian flag here in the UN, but as long as the Palestinians fail to raise a generation committed to peace and reconciliation, there will be no end to the violence,” he said.

While the Assembly repealed the disgraceful resolution that equated Zionism with racism, 40 years later, many in this institution still displayed hatred and hostility towards Israel, the home of the Jewish People, he said. The United Nations’ credibility depended on its integrity. Its moral worth would be measured by how it viewed Israel, the most successful new democratic State of the last century. To understand Israel’s uniqueness in the region, he asked each person to ask themselves, if they were a woman or gay, seeking a heart transplant or to practice their Jewish, Muslim or Christian faith openly, where in the Middle East they would go. “We look forward to a time when the Palestinians focus on building their own institutions, instead of attacking Israel in this one,” he said.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was regrettable and alarming that the situation in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, had dramatically deteriorated over the past year as a result of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. The Movement strongly condemned violence and provocations by Israeli occupying forces and extremists at Haram al-Sharif, which threatened to further destabilize an already fragile situation and impact the region and beyond. The continuation of Israel’s illegal settlement campaign was at the core of that foreign occupation and remained the major obstacle to peace, undermining all efforts to resume credible negotiations and casting serious doubts on Israel’s “alleged commitment” to ending its occupation and achieving the two-State solution. The Movement called again on the international community to compel Israel to cease its destructive and illegal practices and abide by its obligations under international law. The Security Council in particular had clear responsibilities in that regard.

He also expressed the Movement’s concerns over the critical situation of Palestine refugees, who continued to face serious protection challenges because of the ongoing occupation, armed conflict and displacement and were sinking deeper into poverty and desperation. UNRWA remained essential for ameliorating their plight, pending a just solution based on resolution 194 (III), and the Movement called upon the international community to support the Agency. He said that the eight-year blockade of Gaza continued to destroy the economy, impede reconstruction and obstruct humanitarian aid as well as economic and social recovery. Lebanon also continued to suffer from consecutive Israeli violations of its borders and incursions, as Israel continued to violate Lebanese airspace, in blatant violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and relevant international resolutions.

IOANNIS VRAILAS, of the European Union, stressing that there was no alternative to a two-State solution, said that a one-State reality would not be compatible with the legitimate national aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians. Last summer, hostilities in Gaza and Southern Israel had caused the death or injury of thousands of people and had produced the ongoing catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. In past weeks, there had been an increase in tensions, clashes and terror attacks. The European Union believed that the only way to resolve the conflict was through an agreement that ended the occupation, which began in 1967, and fulfilled the aspirations of both parties.

Expressing concern about the recurring tensions at the Haram al- Sharif/Temple Mount, he acknowledged the special role of Jordan in the Muslim holy shrines of Jerusalem. Further, settlements were illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. Reiterating the Union’s strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in that context such as the building of the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, demolitions and confiscations, forced transfers of Bedouins, illegal outposts and settler violence, he added that the Union would closely monitor developments on the ground and remained ready to take further actions to protect the viability of the two-State solution.

MANSOUR ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), speaking on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that today’s meeting was taking place in a “decisive” historical context, as the Occupied Palestinian Territory — particularly the occupied city of Jerusalem — was witnessing a dramatically deteriorating situation as a result of the escalation of Israeli military aggression. Israel’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people, its flagrant violations of all applicable provisions of international law and its disrespect for agreements with the Palestinian side had brought the situation to a “dangerous juncture”. Against the backdrop of ongoing Israeli aggressions against Christian and Islamic holy sites, he said, “we have warned, on several occasions, that the crimes and aggressions of Israel, the occupying Power, and its settlers and extremists […] could spark a religious war”, one for which Israel alone would bear responsibility and one that must be averted by all means.

He said the OIC condemned, in the strongest terms, the continuation of such aggression by Israel, especially the policy of execution and deliberate murder carried out by the Israeli occupation forces and extremists settlers against defenceless Palestinian civilians. It also condemned Israel’s settlement policy and its continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip. Those acts of aggression constituted war crimes, and the perpetrators should be brought to justice. It was no longer morally acceptable for the international community, particularly the Security Council, to remain silent or to only express concern about the “horrendous” Israeli war crimes and atrocities. Further, failure to find a just solution would only exacerbate the already unstable regional situation. The OIC urged the international community to work towards peace in accordance with the two-State solution on the basis of pre-1967 borders and the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative, and the Security Council must act immediately to set up a well-defined timeframe for ending the Israeli occupation, with international guarantees and binding implementation mechanisms.

NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said that accepting Palestine as an observer must not divert the international community’s attention from its plight for full membership in the Organization. He commended the European Union’s request for clear marking of products from Israeli settlements. He also urged an end to settlement activities, saying those not only violated the Charter, but also the reason why attempts to revive the peace process had failed. Israel was continuing its provocative practices in occupied Jerusalem as part of a wider policy of aggression to change the character of the holy city. The situation was not only dangerous in occupied Palestine, but posed dangers all over the world. Member States needed to step up international efforts to confront the challenges posed by terrorists and eradicate terrorism by addressing its diverse root causes.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had contributed significantly to the anger and frustration among the people of the Arab and Muslim world, and thus, resolution was essential for peace and stability throughout the Middle East. It was also essential to addressing the drivers of extremism and terrorism. The Palestinian people deserved the full solidarity and support of the international community, she said, adding that “sadly, no end seems to be in sight to their suffering”. Durable peace could only be achieved through political solutions, not by heavy-handed tactics and the use of brute force against unarmed civilians. While the Security Council continued to “procrastinate and dither” for political reasons, the prospects of a two-State solution continued to fade. The Council had an obligation to act on that most potent threat to international peace and security. She expressed her support for the Palestinian demand for international protection, and insisted that pressure be mounted on Israel to immediately lift the blockade on Gaza; irrevocably end all illegal settlement construction; release all Palestinian detainees; and end the demolition of Palestinian houses and the expulsion of Palestinians from their properties.

ASOKE KUMAR MUKERJI (India), citing a message of support and solidarity from his country’s Prime Minister, said India had always stood by the Palestinian people in pursuit of their legitimate goals, as well as their economic and social development. In addition to its ongoing political and diplomatic support, it also supported Palestine’s nation-building efforts through technical and financial assistance. In October 2015, the President of India had inaugurated the India-Palestine Centre for Excellence in Information and Communications Technology in the Al-Quds University. India had also contributed over $5 million in budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority and contributed $1 million annually to UNRWA. It also had provided $4 million to the National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza.

CHAYAPAN BAMRUNGPHONG (Thailand), expressing alarm at the escalating violence at holy sites in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as other violent incidents in several cities, said such confrontations were fuelled by incitement and hate speech. Irresponsible rhetoric and distorted facts in social media had worsened and inflamed the violence and created profound mistrust, which eroded the possibility of a political solution. His delegation joined the international call on all sides to respect the sanctity of all holy sites and to cease any attempt to change their status quo. He echoed the call to end the inflammatory rhetoric and provocative actions that exacerbated the tensions. The current crisis could not be resolved through security measures alone, and violence could not be solved by more violence. It was important to promote meaningful dialogue and negotiations; however, in the absence of a peace process, it was a “must” to rebuild trust and confidence and to create an atmosphere conducive to future talks. His country had responded swiftly to the Gaza flash appeal, contributing $100,000 to UNRWA and an additional $100,000 to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

AMR A. ABOULATTA (Egypt) said it was a time of confusion in principles as some tried to equate the aggressed with the aggressor. Justice and truth were not being upheld in the international community. After decades of occupation, the world continued to wait for a solution, which ran counter to the most basic principles of the United Nations Charter. The inhumane and cruel tendencies of settlers to demolish homes and confiscate land continued with impunity, and violations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque would remain anchored in the memory of all Arab countries. “Wrong are those who believe that other conflicts in the Middle East would divert attention” from the change in status quo at Muslim Holy Sites. The international community must offer protection to the Palestinians people. That was not a vague concept, but was adequately defined by international law. The Palestinian question would remain of utmost importance to Arab countries, and other conflicts in the Middle East would not divert from that. He supported the Arab Peace Initiative, and urged the international community to redouble efforts for peace before it was too late.

IBRAHIM O.A. DABBASHI (Libya) said that 67 years had elapsed since the tragedy of the Palestinian people had started. Their suffering began when the “migrant Jews” invaded their territories in 1948, forcing them to leave their homeland. Israelis continued to expand the more power they gained. That never waned because it was supported unconditionally even when it involved the commission of crimes against innocent Palestinians. The Israeli entity was established on a policy of terrorism and it continued to terrorize the Palestinian people, demolish their homes, forcefully displace them to make room for extremist Jewish Israelis “coming from all four corners of the world”. Terrorism had become a paramount pillar of Israel’s existence, which was evident in its war crimes, crimes against humanity and the excessive violence and force it used even against women and children.

He called on the international community to stand by the Palestinian Authority so that Israeli officials guilty of such crimes could be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court. Israeli offensives against civilians and infrastructure continued to escalate the plight of civilians living under the yoke of occupation, who suffered gross deteriorations of employment opportunities and a lack of food and medicine. He called on the international community to take all necessary measures to end the occupation and establish an independent State.

DINA KAWAR (Jordan) said that over the past decades, Jordan had spared no efforts at all levels to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people in establishing its State along the 1967 borders. That was the only solution to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the division and hatred that threatened the future of coming generations. The situation was getting more dangerous, and Jordan called on all Member States to translate their support to the Palestinian people into providing them with legal protection, and prompting Israel to end the occupation. Israel also had to match its statements with measures on the ground by taking steps to build trust with the Palestinian Authority, so as to work on creating more favourable conditions.

KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) welcomed the raising of the flag of the Observer State of Palestine at Headquarters in September as well as countries that had recognized that, and hoped that others would do so. Deeply concerned at the ongoing conflict and violence in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem, he called on all parties concerned to do their utmost to avoid exacerbating the already fragile situation, and to take all possible steps to create conditions conducive to the resumption of peace negotiations. He also called on the parties to resume direct peace negotiations towards a final settlement in keeping with relevant United Nations resolutions and other major initiatives of the past decades, which envisaged a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. He urged the international community to redouble efforts to help Palestine return to normalcy as soon as possible.

RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the human rights violations of Israel had worsened over the years as it had continued with its illegal practices in a deliberate and systematic manner. That posed the greatest obstacle to peace. In the Gaza strip, 1.8 million Palestinians lived under an Israeli embargo creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Some 20 per cent of the population of Gaza required immediate psychosocial support. He reiterated his unequivocal solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemned Israel’s illegal policies, occupation and settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem. Only an end to the settlement policy and recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people would make a political solution possible. The international community had a responsibility to promote the well-being of all peoples including their right to development and should never permit the Palestinian people to be excluded from that. He rejected the use of force and strongly condemned all acts of terrorism.

JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country wondered how it was possible for the Palestinian people to exercise their right to development unless they were given political and economic space, which had been usurped by Israel. The international community remained passive and did not provide a convincing response to the suffering of the Palestinian people. Reiterating the total unity of Nicaragua with the Palestinian people in their fight for self-determination, he stressed that it was not possible to continue the vicious cycle of aggression, destruction and reconstruction. Appealing for the international community to respect the rights of Palestinian refugees and to lift the blockade against Gaza, he said that his country condemned the illegal construction of even more settlements of occupied Palestinian territories.

JAMAL F. ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said that everyone should recall the responsibility of United Nations Member States towards the Palestinian people. The suffering had reached unprecedented levels, and the international community must shoulder its responsibilities. The Israeli occupation of Arab land and settlements must be ended, and the independent State of Palestine should be established. Bahrain would work in cooperation with other international community members to reach the objectives that responded to the aspirations of all.

RAFAEL RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said he feared that statements in the General Assembly Hall were merely transformed into vain rhetoric as, too often, Member States debated while Israeli planes bombed the Gaza Strip. The international community must call “a spade a spade”; Israel, an Occupying power, had taken advantage of the inaction of the United Nations and committed atrocities with impunity. He expressed concern over the current cycle of violence, saying that they could be a result of the long occupation. “We will continue to see the cycle of violence and increasing bitterness of the Palestinian youth,” he said, strongly condemning the systematic policy of repression and brutal and cowardly attacks of innocent people including women and children. The perpetrators of such acts must be brought to justice, he said, denouncing the Israeli policy of attacking Palestinian children. He rejected any attempts to change the status quo of Muslim Holy Sites and urged an end to the inhumane blockade of Gaza. He called for action in support of the Palestinian people. The Security Council, in particular, must act with the urgency and foster peace negotiations as the outcome affected Middle East stability of the Middle East.

For information media. Not an official record.

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