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President: The Hon. Julian R. Hunte.............................................. (Saint Lucia)
In the absence of the President, Mr. Van den Berg (Netherlands), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The meeting was called to order at 10 a.m.
The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Svetozar Marovic, President of Serbia and Montenegro, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Marovic: ...
From our own recent experience we know a lot about victims and suffering. That is why we call for an end to violence in all parts of the world — in Baghdad and Iraq, and the Middle East. We are convinced that the international community and the United Nations, primarily the Security Council, will find a way to stabilization and to a life in peace and freedom for all people. The human race has only one world to live in. We in Serbia and Montenegro stand ready to contribute to peace efforts through peace operations, to protect peace and to defend each nation’s right to a democratic future.
The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Boris Trajkovski, President of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Trajkovski: ...
We are deeply concerned about the escalation of violence in the Middle East. The parties need to recommit themselves to the road map process, because it is the only alternative that can bring security and stability to Israelis and Palestinians alike. The international community must step up its activities at this extremely difficult juncture, ensuring that it remains on the path of ending terrorism and occupation and of establishing the State of Palestine, living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security.
The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Kuchma (spoke in Ukrainian; English text provided by the delegation):...
After many months of a slide towards the abyss, a truly historic opportunity arose for achieving peace in the Middle East. Last May, the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Middle East Peace was held in Kiev at the initiative of Ukraine. It became, in effect, the first international forum at which the road map put forward by the Quartet gained the support of a large number of States Members of the United Nations. We sincerely hope that the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace dialogue will not be blocked by obstacles created by the current controversies.
The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Wade (spoke in French):
As Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Senegal remains gravely concerned by the deadlock in the peace process in the Middle East. Too much blood has been shed and too much suffering endured in that land holy to the three great revealed religions. And yet, one must face the fact that a peaceful solution is the sole, best guarantee of survival for all the peoples affected by daily death and anguish. We must pursue efforts to ensure a return to the negotiating table on the basis of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, the principle of land for peace and the parameters established in the road map so that, at last, this long nightmare can yield to the oft-aborted dream of peoples who cherish peace and freedom.
However, if the words attributed to one Israeli authority are well founded, my country would warn against any attack on the physical integrity of President Yasser Arafat and against any decision of expulsion. Any such act would have incalculable consequences. Senegal rejects and condemns violence in all its forms, regardless of who the victims and perpetrators may be or the reasons invoked, and reiterates its unfailing support for the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State within secure and internationally recognized borders, just as we have always recognized Israel’s right to exist in the same conditions. I have the feeling, however, that if we confine ourselves to issuing statements without making any real effort to find a concrete solution, the tragedy that is unfolding before our eyes in cycles of violence will last a very long time
The Israeli and Palestinian authorities have asked me, without my seeking it, to help them to settle this conflict, which is beginning to look like the Thirty Years War or even the Hundred Years War. Those authorities may recall simply that Senegal has resolved for itself one of the greatest contradictions of our time: the coexistence in one land of Muslims and Christians, who live in a ratio of 95 per cent to 5 per cent in our country. Christians, far from suffering from any discrimination, are fully integrated into national life, to the extent that a Christian has been the President of our Republic for 20 years and supported by Muslims. That is why I myself have turned to great thinkers and theoreticians on the issue of conflict to see if their words might be useful to us.
A compatriot of Jacques Chirac, Mr. Gaston Boutoul, invented the science of war and, more generally, of conflict known as polemology, the objective of which is to understand, through scientific analysis, the motivations and mechanisms of war and conflict. A sociological approach includes individual psychology, collective and social psychology, economics and the environment. I should like to subscribe to this approach and, in the light of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to make a modest contribution.
It seems to me that there are two possible approaches to the conflict: that of the “aggressor aggressed” theory and that of the “occupier occupied” theory. If we seek to identify who is in one category and who is in the other, we find ourselves in a complete impasse. Unfortunately, that is what each of the parties is doing. In the first scenario, Israelis and Palestinians each claim to be the aggressed and accuse each other of being the aggressor. In the second, while Israel is undeniably the occupier, it justifies this state of affairs by pointing to the so-called aggression of Palestinians. Hence, we return to the first theory and set in motion an endless cycle.
Let us not play this game, which is one of massacre for the parties to the conflict and of hide-and-seek on our side, where political and diplomatic interests cloud the search for an equitable solution.
The aim of my proposal is to move beyond the subjective approaches of the two parties by introducing external action, specifically on the part of the international community. Instead of pursuing the course of mutual accusation — which, it may be noted, leads nowhere because each party is subjective — I would simply propose that we eliminate the two problems by merging them into a single, unique problem. The dispatch of international forces to secure uncontested borders and the placing on “stand-by” status of the parts of the territory on which there is no consensus would eliminate de facto the two approaches of “occupier occupied” and “aggressor aggressed”. I believe that this approach is all the more feasible and realistic in that Israel has declared itself prepared to return all the occupied territories — 90 per cent of them first and then negotiating a border correction to compensate for the other 10 per cent. That would allow us to abandon the two theories, which can only eternally pit the two parties against each other and divide the international community.
The greatest war of all time, that of 1939-1945, pitted French against German. Today, they no longer agonize over the question of who was the aggressor and who the aggressed, or of who was the occupier and who the occupied. All such issues have today been confined to history. All the parties have decided to join efforts in a cooperative project: the European Union. I would ask, therefore: Can we not dream of a post-war period in which Israel and Palestine can embark on real cooperation to the benefit of their two peoples?
Agenda item 9 (continued)
The Acting President: I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency The Right Honourable Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili, Prime Minister and Minister for Defence and Public Service of the Kingdom of Lesotho and invite him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Mosisili (Lesotho): ...
Although there have been positive indicators in the search for a peaceful and acceptable solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, we are concerned that the recent resumption of the cycle of violence will render the road map for peace futile. The drastic and repressive measures, the unilateral erection of a wall dividing the two, the reoccupation of Palestinian towns and villages, and the targeting of Hamas leaders with the aim of killing them are all measures which cannot help the course of peace or ensure that the Palestinian people enjoy their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination in a sovereign and independent State. In like manner, the continuing suicide missions by militant groups to kill Israelis indiscriminately cannot, and must not, be condoned or justified.
But then two stark realities must be addressed: first, that the root cause of the problem is the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands; and secondly, that no one country can be an honest broker in the Middle East. History itself positions some countries so much with one party to the conflict that they cannot — even with the best of intentions — be non-partisan. Consequently, my delegation strongly urges the United Nations to take the initiative and to lead the process, and thus to lend legitimacy and credibility to the efforts to find an abiding solution.
The President: I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency The Right Honourable Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Sir Anerood Jugnauth (Mauritius): ...
Over the last year the international community’s ability to tackle political conflicts and find lasting solutions has been dismal.
The situation in the Middle East continues to preoccupy us. Despite the various initiatives, including the latest Road Map, violence remains unabated and we fear that recent developments in the region will unleash further killings and destruction.
No solution will be possible there unless all the protagonists are taken on board. Exclusion as a policy is destined to fail. We continue to believe that President Arafat is an essential part of the solution, and any attempt to sideline him will be detrimental to any peace initiative.
We call on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to exercise utmost restraint and to pursue their efforts for the implementation of the Road Map with a view to putting an end to the occupation and the succeeding generations of Palestinians in refugee camps. The establishment of a Palestinian State at the earliest should be the priority of the international community.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Jean Obeid, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of the Lebanese Republic.
Mr. Obeid (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic): ...
In our region and in our country, we have greatly suffered from double standards and recourse to might at the expense of right. Since the foundation of an entity on the ruins of the people of Palestine, an entity that recognizes neither its own borders nor those of others, repeated injustices and wars have arisen as a result of violations of the spirit and raison d’être of this international Organization.
Comprehensive and just approaches were adopted at the international Conference in Madrid to find a peaceful resolution to the Middle East conflict, resulting in principles and accomplishments that cannot be renounced or reversed. Incomplete approaches emerged, but they failed to achieve peace, maintain security and ensure stability. It has become clear to everyone, except to those in Israel who are arrogant and intransigent, that there can be no security without a political solution, and no partial, peaceful, political solution without the comprehensive peace that embodies the spirit of justice of the Madrid Conference and the integrated Arab peace initiative of the Arab Summit in Beirut.
Such a solution is based on the relevant international resolutions calling for the return to Lebanon of the rest of the territory still under Israeli occupation, including Shebaa farms; for the return to Syria of its territory up to its 4 June 1967 borders; and for enabling Palestinian refugees to exercise their legal, humanitarian and moral right of return to their homeland. Such a process should ensure the establishment of a sovereign, independent, stable and viable Palestinian State, with al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital.
Developments on the ground, however, dash that hope. The Government of Israel continues to build settlements, impose extrajudicial sentences, kill men, women and children, demolish houses and carry out pre-emptive arrests and assassinations.
Similarly, Lebanon suffers from persistent and extremely provocative and aggravated Israeli threats, attacks and violations by sea, land and air, as described by the Secretary-General and his Special Representative in the region. The international community should therefore pressure Israel to end those excesses.
Lebanese detainees and prisoners are still illegally held hostage, without due process, in Israel, which still keeps the remaining maps of the landmines that it planted during its occupation of southern Lebanon. Furthermore, Israel continues its policy of assassination and still covets Lebanon’s waters and natural resources.
I must say that the failure to guarantee the right of Palestinian refugees to exercise their right of return puts the entire Middle East in an explosive situation. The Government and people of Lebanon are especially committed to the implementation of this right, which we consider to be legal, natural and moral. Therefore, the so-called realistic solutions to this problem should not even be raised, since they run counter to the principles of international law and the spirit of justice. Indeed, only a commitment to the right of return and refusal to resettle the refugees in Lebanon are at the core of Lebanon’s reconciliation that ended the war in Lebanon and that led to the Taif Agreement, which was endorsed by the United Nations.
In this context, I wish to stress that Lebanon’s policy choices and positions regarding the Middle East conflict are constant and unaffected by the balance of power. We believe that those choices are righteous, moral and consistent with the requirements of a just peace. Those choices alone are capable of bringing about a possible and strong settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Such an undertaking is compatible with the goals of the United Nations, as it strives to strengthen its role, with the support of the sponsors of the peace process and the participation of the European Union.
It is in Israel’s interest to revert to or to be brought back to the language of reason and justice. Since Israel’s Governments have failed to do so, responsibility for bringing Israel back to reason falls to the international community.
For in Israel there is a Government that considers only its rights and fails to take account of its obligations. We believe that those who consider only one side are the most dangerous kinds of people.
Under the pretext of security, the Government in Israel is continuing to build a wall that separates Israel from the people of Palestine and is attempting to build a higher, larger and more menacing wall between the greater nations of the West and the rest of the world, especially the Arab and the Muslim world. Israel does that in a bid to serve and support those who wish to fuel conflict between East and West, between Christianity and Islam and among religions, cultures and civilizations, when, in the final analysis, there is only one human civilization, which stems from common spiritual values based on the belief in one eternal God and his messengers.
Furthermore, the Government of Israel resorts daily to the stick as a means of subjugation. It ignores, or pretends to ignore, that the use of the stick incites disobedience; that, with time, the oppressors and the oppressed often exchange roles and positions; and that many who were once at the helm at various stages of their lives have faded from historical memory, having forgotten that only God is everlasting, as are the universal principles of equality, fairness and justice.
There are those in the Israeli Government who were brought to power by the very extremism that caused the ouster of their predecessors or even led to their assassination, and who nevertheless do not hesitate to label Arabs and Muslims as the extremists or accuse them of being the sole source of extremism.
In Israel, there are those who insist on making Israel a fortress towering over the region, rather than a State within it. There are those who make life for the Palestinians worse than death, and who are determined to force fellow Israelis to die with the Arabs in war, rather than live with them in peace.
There are those in the Government of Israel who try to deny that Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian’s right of return are a mandatory path for any political settlement and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace is to be achieved. On the contrary, they desperately use the feeble-minded to fan the flames of conflict among the Palestinians themselves, among the Lebanese, between the Lebanese and the Syrians, and among the Arabs, instead of extinguishing the flames of conflict between the Arabs and Israelis in a decent, just and comprehensive manner.
The Government of Israel believes that it is more important to gain time than to gain peace, that it is better to manipulate the various tracks and problems than to seek to resolve the conflict in all its dimensions and problems and that intimidation can transform injustice into right, right into injustice and occupation into independence.
In Israel, the Government clings to its slogan of absolute sovereignty, and to the sovereignty it violates or violates with others, limiting the role of its most important ally to providing money and weapons, denying it even the right to advise. If the world’s only super-Power utters a word of advice about the construction of the wall of separation and discrimination, it is ignored and construction of the wall continues.
Offence is often the result of excessive tolerance of fault, and excessive chaos in standards and yardsticks is caused by the discriminatory use of standards regarding justice and international resolutions. It is not just, wise, safe or peaceful for powerful States to continue to tolerate double and multiple standards when dealing with Israel, while applying firm standards and measures when dealing with the weak and the oppressed and other nations of the world.
This clearly leads us to call for the reform of the United Nations, as well as for strengthening its role, by reviewing the working methods of the Security Council, expanding its membership, giving it more weight in decision-making and respecting the democratic consultative nature that must be the basis of our international Organization. That reform should fairly and effectively address new challenges of world security and safety. It should also provide balance and stability in international relations, particularly if that is accompanied by modernizing the work of the United Nations organs and rationalization to avoid use of the right of veto in a way that contravenes law and justice in the world.
Lebanon was among the first countries to be targeted by terrorism, which was carried out by fundamentalist groups. It fought it with courage and resolve. At the same time, Lebanon still faces State terrorism practiced by Israel, which has caused the death, injury and displacement of thousands of Lebanese and the destruction of essential facilities and infrastructure. While we differentiate between terrorism and the right of peoples whose territories are occupied to resist and to liberate that land, within the context of international resolutions and the Charter, our country explicitly and strongly condemns all forms of terrorism, as it constitutes a threat to mankind as a whole, regardless of race, colour or religion. Lebanon reaffirms its commitment to continue to cooperate with the international community to fight this extremely harmful and damaging scourge.
In conclusion, I would be remiss if I did not congratulate Mr. Hunte on his election as President of the General Assembly and wish him success in his stewardship. I also would like to commend the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, to promote all opportunities for peace, stability and development in the world. Furthermore, I would like to pay a tribute to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for its role in southern Lebanon. Now that Lebanon has been able to liberate most of its territory, it is my hope that UNIFIL will fulfil the remainder of the mandate entrusted to it, as defined in Security Council resolution 425 (1978).
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now call on Mr. Mircea Geoana, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Romania.
Mr. Geoana (Romania) (spoke in French): ...
In the Middle East, the new wave of violence is preventing the full implementation of the agreed road map. Romania strongly condemns suicide bombings that are carried out by the enemies of peace and security in the area. We urge the new Palestinian Government to act effectively against further terrorist attacks targeting Israel and its citizens, but it is equally important that the Israeli Government stand by its commitments in the framework of pursuing a political solution to this bitter conflict. We fully support the actions of the Quartet that are meant to contribute to overcoming this dangerous situation. We shall follow with utmost interest the ministerial meeting that is scheduled for this week.
The meeting rose at 7.30 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-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.