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Regarding the Middle East, Botswana shares the general frustration at the prolonged impasse in the situation in that region. We call on both the Palestinians and Israelis to remain engaged in the negotiations on the basis of a two-State solution, in which the two peoples will live side by side in peace and harmony.
Address by Mr. Mohamed Waheed, Vice-President of the Republic of Maldives
As we watch the changes in the Middle East and North Africa, it has become even more imperative that the question of Palestine be addressed. The Maldives stands shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian people. The time for Palestine to join the international family of nations is long overdue. We therefore welcome its application for statehood. The Maldives calls on all Members to support the recognition of a Palestinian State, living side by side and at peace with the State of Israel. While recognizing the rights of the Palestinians, we also value and support the right of the people of Israel to live in peace and security.
Mr. Cancela (Uruguay), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The question of peace in the Middle East has hovered over the world for far too long. Liberia believes that whether deliberations take place in the Security Council or the General Assembly, dialogue between the parties remains the most viable option for ending the stalemate towards an independent Palestine. We therefore call on Israel and Palestine to demonstrate a concrete commitment to engaging each other in a constructive dialogue that will achieve the desired two-State solution.
Likewise, in March we recognized the State of Palestine. We believe that all of the necessary conditions have been met for this recognition to become universal and for the realization of a two-State solution, which Uruguay has supported since 1947, as well as for a path that reaffirms the right of Israel and Palestine to coexist in peace, within secure and recognized borders, in a environment of renewed cooperation and free from any threats or actions that could jeopardize peace.
The Palestinian people have a legitimate and full right to statehood. But the Jewish people also have the undeniable right to live in peace in a safe country, free of terrorist attacks — attacks that Uruguay has always rejected and condemned.
Uruguay is proud to have made a decisive contribution to the creation of the State of Israel, whose hard-working people have lived up to the historic vision of the men and women who made its creation possible. We are convinced also that the time has come for the Palestinian people to show the world their decisive contribution to peace, development and international cooperation.
One of the most intractable conflicts of our time is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The sad reality is that numerous United Nations resolutions continue to be flouted. The daily killing, collective punishment and humiliation of Palestinians are going on unabated. Denial of humanitarian assistance, essential medical supplies and construction materials to Palestinians has become the norm. For that reason, my delegation not only supports but recognizes an independent and sovereign Palestinian State within the confines of the 1967 borders. An independent Palestinian State with full rights and privileges like any other is long overdue. That is the only guarantor of lasting peace in that region.
On the Israeli-Palestinian question, Uganda has consistently called upon the Israeli and the Palestinian parties to muster the necessary courage to negotiate and reach a peaceful settlement based on a two-State solution, that is, Israel and the State of Palestine living side by side peacefully and within secure borders. We urge both parties to urgently resume negotiations in order to reach a two-State solution that will guarantee durable peace.
... At the same time, it is our deepest wish that these same sentiments may soon be expressed to the parties directly involved in efforts to reach a fair and equitable two-State solution to the situation in Palestine.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains one of the most protracted and volatile conflicts in the Middle East. Cambodia calls on the two parties to manifest political will to overcome their mutual animosity in order create an atmosphere conducive to the resumption of peace negotiations in the interests of both Palestinians and Israelis.
Cambodia has always supported the creation of the Palestinian State based upon its 1967 borders. In that spirit, Cambodia supports the rights of Palestine to become a full Member of the United Nations at this session of the General Assembly. Moreover, it must be acknowledged that neither Palestinians nor Israelis could live anywhere else. It would therefore be far better if both peoples could live side by side in peace and as good neighbours. Cambodia sees no other solution to that issue.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Eamon Gilmore, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland.
In the Middle East peace process, the search for freedom and equality has yet to bear fruit. The Arab-Israeli conflict remains depressingly deadlocked. Unless this deadlock is broken, the opportunities for yet another generation of children will be destroyed.
The situation in the Middle East is urgent. After 20 years of failed initiatives, disillusionment about the ability of the political process to deliver a settlement is deepening. Young Palestinians in particular are frustrated and despairing. The position of the moderate Palestinian leadership is under threat. Never has it been more important to show that politics works and that a peaceful, just and lasting settlement is within reach through negotiation.
Everybody knows what a final and comprehensive settlement would involve: two States, based on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps, living side by side in peace and security. It is more pressing than ever to launch direct negotiations that would address all the core issues and culminate in such an agreement within a specified time frame.
Ireland has long been an advocate of the establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian State within borders based on those of 1967. We want to see the peoples of Palestine and Israel living as good neighbours in peace, security and prosperity as soon as possible — and this can come about only through negotiation. Ireland strongly opposes all action that serves to hinder or delay negotiations, such as violent attacks on civilians and their property or Israel’s illegal settlement of occupied Palestinian territory.
The decision of President Abbas to seek membership in the United Nations for Palestine is entirely legitimate and understandable. Palestine has the same right to membership in the United Nations as Ireland or any other Member of this Organization. Some would seek to argue that Palestine cannot be recognized as a State because its borders remain to be agreed on. But if the borders of Palestine are still a matter for negotiation, then so, by definition, are those of Israel, which is rightly a full Member of the United Nations.
Membership in the United Nations of itself, however, would not change the unstable and unacceptable situation on the ground. It does not remove the compelling need for negotiations. Nor will it offer a legitimate excuse to avoid negotiations. Whatever happens here at the United Nations, negotiations must resume as soon as possible. The statement issued last Friday by the Quartet provides a framework for precisely that.
What recognition of Palestinian statehood would do, however, is to give dignity and support to the Palestinian people, who have suffered for too long. It would also be a tangible demonstration of the commitment of the international community and the United Nations to an agreed settlement between two sovereign States, living side by side in peace, security and prosperity.
The day will come, not too far off, when the General Assembly will be asked to vote on a proposal to admit Palestine as a Member of the Organization, or perhaps, as an interim step towards the achievement of that goal, to accord Palestine non-member observer State status. Provided that the resolution is drafted in terms that are reasonable and balanced, I expect Ireland to give its full support. In Ireland, we know from our own experience that peace does not come easily. It requires political will and difficult compromises. But we also know the benefits of peace. There can be no doubting the hugely transformative power for the Middle East region of a final end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The international community has invested far too much effort and resources over the past decades not to do all it can now to assist a return to direct talks by the two sides. In the words of Martin Luther King, we cannot ignore the fierce urgency of now.
I again urge the Government of Israel to halt all settlement expansion. I also call on it to end the unjust blockade of Gaza by opening up land crossings to normal commercial, human and humanitarian traffic.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Kenneth Baugh, Deputy Primer Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Jamaica.
The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is long overdue. It is time to end the occupation of Palestinian territory. It is time for the people of Palestine and Israel to live in peace and mutual security. Jamaica remains unwavering in its support for a just, lasting and comprehensive agreement that recognizes the Palestinian State within the pre-1967 borders and guarantees the security of Israel. The focus must now be on ending the stalemate and reviving direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. In that regard, Jamaica welcomes the declarations to the General Assembly by both Palestine and Israel of their readiness to do so.
Both sides must now re-engage in good faith, taking no action that could undermine the possibility of a durable solution. Central to that must be Israel’s cessation of settlement building and expansion in the occupied territories and, on the part of the Palestinian leadership and people, the renunciation of violence against Israel and acceptance of its right to exist. The door to peaceful negotiations will not be forever open, nor can there be a continuing delay to Palestine’s assumption of its rightful place in the global community of States.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now call on Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
In that same spirit, Ethiopia wants to express its position on the historic turning point that the people of Palestine and the people of Israel are passing through and the challenges that they are facing. We are convinced that no great wisdom is required to realize that, at the end of the day, it is only through peaceful negotiation and mutual accommodation that the two parties can reach the final destination.
In that regard, it is not enough that the right of the Palestinians to a viable State of their own be acknowledged and be paid lip service. It is also necessary that real, tangible and practical steps be taken, and in good time, towards the realization of that objective. That has not been done. No doubt, that is partly the explanation for where we are today and at this moment. On the other hand, while it is self-defeating, and also unjust, to use it as a pretext for delaying the realization of the dreams of the people of Palestine, nonetheless, it is neither proper nor realistic to underestimate and belittle the security concerns of Israel.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Primer Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Security and political stability remain critical to advancing the socio-economic development of all regions. The United Nations should therefore play a more critical role in maintaining international peace and security by effectively carrying out its duty to address regional conflicts, especially with regard to the situation in the Middle East, which has gone unresolved for decades. Against this backdrop, the United Nations should play a more effective facilitating role in urging all parties concerned to find a solution and realize the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security and within internationally recognized borders, as stipulated in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. In this regard, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic supports Palestine’s application on 23 September for full membership in the United Nations.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Yang Jiechi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.
China has consistently supported the just cause of establishing an independent Palestinian State, and supports Palestine’s membership in the United Nations. We support efforts to achieve a two-State solution through political negotiation so as to establish, on the basis of the 1967 borders, an independent Palestinian State that enjoys full sovereignty, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We believe that progress should be made in parallel in the peace talks between Syria and Israel and Lebanon and Israel, with an ultimate view to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East along with peaceful coexistence between the Arab countries and Israel. We hope that the international community and the parties concerned will make unremitting efforts to this end and sustain the Middle East peace process.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Taïb Fassi Fihri, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Morocco.
It is clear that a final settlement to the Palestinian issue is a necessary factor in accelerating the pace of the ongoing Arab endeavour in the interests of all peoples of the region. The question of Palestine is today at a historical turning point. It is characterized by the absence of any prospect of negotiation, the ongoing settlement programmes, and the Israeli policy of detention, annexation, destruction and displacement, particularly in Jerusalem, as well as collective punishment and the disproportionate use of force against civilians, as reported by the United Nations in the report on the freedom flotilla.
Due to the rejection by the Israeli Government of constructive international initiatives and proposals by the sponsors of the peace process, the situation has deteriorated, and prospects have faded for the relaunch of a serious and genuine negotiating process on the final settlement, in step with reciprocal commitments. It is time for the United Nations, through its various organs and using all available mechanisms, to shoulder its full responsibility by enabling the Palestinian people, under the leadership of its National Authority, to achieve all its legitimate national rights, in harmony with efforts to strengthen the foundation of an independent Palestinian State and taking into account the momentum of international support and recognition.
Morocco has always been the first to defend the choice of peace and the brotherly Palestinian people in its struggle, and today it cautions against the stalemate in the peace process, its underlying dangers and the prevalence of the logic of force. It reiterates its support for the request of the Palestinian Authority, in the person of President Mahmoud Abbas, for Palestine to become a full Member of the United Nations as a sovereign State on the basis of the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Morocco, under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, will spare no effort in contributing to all constructive initiatives and supporting all actions towards the realization of that goal as soon as possible.
Moreover, our collective goal should be the revival of the peace process on the basis of clear terms of reference, a comprehensive agenda, a precise time frame, an innovative negotiating methodology, and the effective and strong involvement of the Quartet. In that regard, the Kingdom of Morocco welcomes the positive signals in the recent statement made by the Quartet.
The Acting President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Guido Westerwelle, Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany.
This week has been dominated by the unresolved conflict in the Middle East. On Friday here in New York, President Abbas expressed the Palestinians’ expectations and understandable frustration with the lack of progress made (see A/66/PV.19). On the same day, Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel’s justified desire to exist in peace within secure borders (see A/66/PV.19). Both sides have legitimate interests. However, these interests are certainly not irreconcilable. They can be overcome if the parties involved are willing to do so.
Germany is backing a two-State solution. We support a Palestinian State that will allow the Palestinians to live in dignity and self-determination and that is independent, sovereign, contiguous and democratic, as well as politically and economically viable. Over the past few years, we have been heavily involved in the practical development of this statehood by helping to build an administration, infrastructure and vocational training, as well as politically, in the German-Palestinian Steering Committee. And we do not want that State to be founded sometime in the distant and indeterminate future.
Let there be no doubt, however, that the security of Israel is and will continue to be part of the raison d’être of the Federal Republic of Germany. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is possible. A Palestinian State is possible. Two States existing peacefully side by side are possible. However, they can be achieved only through negotiations. The statement issued by the Middle East Quartet on Friday identified the milestones along the way. Germany worked hard for that Quartet statement and staunchly supports it.
The confrontation of words here in New York must not be allowed to lead to an escalation in violence in the Middle East. I therefore call on both sides, Palestinians and Israelis, to enter into direct negotiations without delay. On Friday, the two sides reaffirmed their desire for a negotiated peace. The task now is to channel the energy and pressure of recent days into a constructive process. The two sides have been called on to come forward within three months with comprehensive proposals on territory and security, and to refrain from all provocative actions. The international community will continue to support the difficult road to peace. This includes the Moscow conference as part of the negotiating timetable for the coming months.
I would like to express my appreciation to all who have worked so hard in the past few days to create this opportunity for a constructive solution. As a European, I would like to extend my special thanks to the European Union’s High Representative, Lady Ashton. Let us make use of the impetus provided by the intensive efforts here in New York for the benefit of the people of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Yousef Bin Al-Alawi Bin Abdulla, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman.
Each year, when we address the Assembly from this rostrum, we begin by presenting the issue of the Palestinian people. The international community has worked to encourage negotiations between the Palestinian National Authority and the Government of Israel, the occupying Power. Unfortunately, the situation remains at a standstill. For that reason, the global community, and the United Nations in particular, should act to fulfil its responsibility to find a just and comprehensive solution. We believe that the establishment of a Palestinian State on the basis of the borders of 4 June 1967 and the recognition of that State as a Member of the Organization will undoubtedly lead to serious negotiations aimed at reaching a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Walid Al-Moualem, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Syria has spared no effort in support of the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people and in championing resistance movements. Syria has upheld its inalienable right to liberate the entire occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967. At the same time, Syria has extended a hand of friendship to all States and established its international relations based on mutual respect and mutual interests. Through leverage, it has promoted the centrepiece of Syria’s national priorities and established policies, namely on the Middle East question, in efforts to liberate the land and restore the rights of the people.