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Agenda item 10 (continued)
Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization
Mr. Mekdad (Syria) (spoke in Arabic): It is my pleasure, Sir, to express our deepest appreciation to you for having taken the initiative to convene this meeting of the General Assembly, with a view to allowing the States Members of the United Nations to hold an exchange of views and ideas on the report of the Secretary-General concerning the prevention of armed conflict.
The report of the Secretary-General which has been submitted to us includes direct references to situations to which the United Nations and the international community must devote particular attention. My delegation understands the concerns expressed with regard to certain situations in a number of countries. Nevertheless, this report did not mention — as we might have hoped — the explosive situation in the Middle East or the importance of deploying efforts to prevent armed conflict there.
There is a paragraph that refers to the Middle East, but it does not properly mention the occupied Palestinian territories or the occupied Syrian Golan, although the Secretary-General is working on an almost daily basis to try to prevent the situation in the Middle East from exploding.
We would be grateful if the Secretary-General could correct this error and ensure that the United Nations position on this issue is clear. It has now been recognized that foreign occupation is one of the most dangerous factors in the emergence of conflicts. We would have liked the report to devote greater attention to this question.
It is no exaggeration to say that the current Israeli Government in particular is working every day to exacerbate tensions, fuelling armed conflict in this key region of the world. The massacre of more than 600 Palestinians by Israeli forces surely means that the situation is truly explosive.
As a result of the activities and priorities of the Israeli Government, the bombing by Israelis of Syrian forces in Lebanon on two consecutive occasions within a short period of time certainly means that the situation is explosive and requires that efforts be made to prevent this aggression, for which there is no reason except that it is what the Israeli authorities want. They have acted with impunity in the region, using aggression, killings and genocide to protect their occupation and expansion.
My delegation believes that, in its efforts to prevent armed conflict, it is important for the United Nations to affirm the implementation of General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, respect for international legitimacy and international and humanitarian law.
Paragraph 94 of the Secretary-General’s report underscores the importance of respect for human rights. This comes at a time when we believe that great attention must be given to this area. We would also like to mention the practical need for more interest in the right to development, in the human rights of the Palestinian people and in the needs of more than half a million Syrians who, since 1967, have been displaced from their own homes.
Paragraphs 10, 11 and 14 of the Charter state that the United Nations plays an important role in the prevention of armed conflict. We would like to endorse recommendation 1 of the report on this subject, and we would request that all measures be taken to ensure that the General Assembly plays an effective role in preventing armed conflict.
My delegation attaches particular importance to the paragraphs on disarmament. Unfortunately, we did not find any reference in the report to types of arms that represent a threat to international peace and security other than small arms and light weapons.
Clearly, nuclear war is a form of conflict that must be prevented at any cost. Nuclear disarmament must be given the highest priority. Real global security cannot be achieved unless all States are required to eliminate nuclear weapons within a specific time period. We firmly believe that the Final Document of the General Assembly’s special session devoted to disarmament in 1978 rightly stated that the main priority should be granted to nuclear disarmament and weapons of mass destruction, and, afterward, conventional weapons.
The Secretary-General’s report comments extensively on the creation of mechanisms to prevent armed conflict. We believe that such mechanisms must be created in consultation with the Member States. Any mechanism that goes beyond this criterion would threaten the credibility of the United Nations and would raise doubts about the mechanism itself.
In conclusion, I would like to say that prevention of armed conflict is a serious global issue, and it is very important that the proposals and ideas included in the Secretary-General’s report be required to undergo serious examination, in-depth debate and analysis by all Member States and by various United Nations organs. It would be useful for the Organization to take advantage of the lessons and experiences that it has accumulated in the field of the prevention of armed conflict, with a view to developing an effective strategy and concrete measures to prevent that type of armed conflict and to deepen the role of the United Nations in this area.
Mr. Lancry (Israel): I would like to begin by expressing Israel’s appreciation for the convening of this discussion on the prevention of armed conflict, a goal which we believe to be the most effective means of achieving the peaceful world that we all desire. To that end, we welcome the report of the Secretary-General on the prevention of armed conflict and commend him on this cogent and insightful document.
Indeed, moving the United Nations from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention embodies the highest ideals of this Organization, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Prevention drastically reduces the economic and social costs of conflict, and, of course, most important of all, the human costs. This is the ideal upon which the Organization was founded — to protect humankind from the scourge of war — and Israel shares the belief that there is no better way to protect our children from the wars of tomorrow than by preventing conflict today.
The basic premise of the Secretary-General’s report is that primary responsibility for conflict prevention rests with national Governments and that the main role of the United Nations should be to support the efforts already under way at the national level.
The Middle East provides a dramatic example of the fruits to be reaped by this approach. The peace treaties that Israel concluded with both Egypt and Jordan, and the wars that were avoided by the conclusion of both treaties, were the result of direct, face-to-face negotiations conducted between the parties. Through all these endeavours, Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) have served as guideposts on the road to peace; they were, and remain, the bases of the terms of reference adopted by the parties at the Madrid Peace Conference. Security Council resolution 425 (1978), which Israel has implemented in full, has outlined the steps necessary for the return of peace and security to the area and has committed United Nations personnel to assist in achieving those goals.
In this very context, we deeply regret the statement made by the Syrian representative relating to Israel. We find his words especially disturbing in the light of Syria’s recent behaviour in fostering and prolonging conflict in our region. Along Israel’s northern border, the Hezbollah terrorist organization, which receives support and encouragement from the Government of Syria, continues to launch unprovoked attacks against Israel and Israeli soldiers and civilians. This behaviour, which is a clear breach of Security Council resolutions and accepted norms of international law, is only possible due to the assistance and to the complicity of the Syrian regime, which in fact governs Lebanon and its foreign policy.
The Syrian Government continues to support Hezbollah’s activities by permitting overland arms transfers to pass through Syrian territory from Iran to Hezbollah’s operatives and by allowing Hezbollah to maintain terrorist training facilities in the Syrian-controlled Beka’a Valley. It has directly enhanced the capacity and the capability of the organization to launch attacks against Israel.
In this light, the international community must seriously question the conduct of the Syrian Government, given that country’s impending candidature for membership in the Security Council. As an occupier of Lebanon, a sponsor of Hezbollah terrorism, and a State that grants terrorist organizations safe harbour in its territory, Syria’s policies stand in blatant contradiction to the principles of the United Nations Charter. Member States must take care to ensure that only nations that strictly adhere both in word and in deed to the provisions of the Charter ascend to membership of such an important organ of the world Organization.
I would say that, in addition to the reference to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the full implementation by Israel of Security Council resolution 425 (1978) and the recent appearance of Foreign Minister Shimon Peres before the Security Council bear testimony to Israel’s willingness to engage in constructive dialogue aimed at resolving conflicts in our region. At the same time, all major initiatives in the region were undertaken and agreed upon by the parties themselves in direct face-to-face negotiations. That formula, when it has been applied in full, in good faith and without reservations, has yielded unprecedented and historic results.
This point cannot be stressed enough: all the major achievements in the quest for peace in the Middle East have resulted from direct negotiations between the parties themselves. Indeed, the Secretary-General’s report, with its unequivocal statement that primary responsibility for conflict prevention rests with national Governments and other local actors, is in a sense expressing clear support for that approach.
In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, such efforts have been under way for nearly eight years. As in the past, Israel undertook direct negotiations with the Palestinians in the hope of ending decades of conflict and preventing future ones. Indeed, much progress was achieved during those years — and not only on the political level, but in terms of economic cooperation and social and cultural interaction as well. All of that progress was predicated on clear principles: mutual recognition, the rejection of violence, the abolition of terror, and direct bilateral face-to-face negotiations.
This past September, the Palestinians decided to break with that formula by abandoning both their commitment to non-violence and the path of dialogue. This is a greatly disturbing development that the Government of Israel is actively working to resolve by its full acceptance of the Mitchell report and of the Tenet plan for a ceasefire.
But it cannot be stressed enough that the primary actions must be taken by the parties themselves, and that the international community, in keeping with the spirit of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, must use the full extent of its influence to encourage the parties to persevere in dialogue aimed at bringing an end to this conflict. Engaging in violence is incompatible with the achievement of political ends. The goal of conflict prevention would be served best by a clear message that such tactics are unacceptable. To a great extent, that is the very soul of the Oslo Agreements, which made clear that there is no room for abrasive terrorism as a strategic tool for advancing political goals.
Moreover, we concur with the Secretary-General’s emphasis on a multidimensional approach that takes account of social, economic, cultural, environmental and development factors. The importance of fighting poverty and promoting sustainable development should not be underestimated. Providing for the material and social well-being of individuals in areas of strife is undeniably a powerful tool for preventing conflict. In that spirit, we have endeavoured at all times to reach out to our neighbours on more than just the political level, to establish people-to-people connections, to engage in joint economic and development projects, and to increase programmes of cultural exchanges.
Israel’s aspiration, beyond the necessary political settlements and peace treaties, is full integration and acceptance at a plurality of levels, including the cultural, economic and philosophical. To that end, Israeli non-profit organizations have undertaken a broad range of programmes aimed at solidifying and expanding the array of opportunities for interaction and partnership. Our broader goals are to increase the human connection among our peoples and to foster greater understanding and cultural exchange. Those programmes represent a strategy of structural prevention as described in the report.
The last point that I would like to address with regard to the Secretary-General’s report relates to the recognition that the primary lesson to be drawn from the past is that the earlier the causes of conflict are addressed, the more likely it is that the parties will be able to engage in constructive dialogue and to address the actual grievances that underlie the conflict.
In that regard, I want to appeal to our Palestinian partners to move on together towards a future of dialogue, peace and genuine coexistence. The longer this war is allowed to continue, and the more our respective wounds are permitted to fester, the more difficult it will be for us to climb out of the darkness in which we have been living for more than nine months.
There is a road map before us today, and we must, for the sake of all the people of the region, take that first step together. Let us emerge once again in a renewed atmosphere and space of confidence, respect and belief in our common destiny.
Mr. Al-Kidwa (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic): Our thanks, Mr. President, go to you and to the Secretary-General. We welcome the Secretary-General’s tireless efforts to strengthen the role of the United Nations in the prevention of armed conflict and in the maintenance of international peace and security.
In our view, the prevention of armed conflict requires, inter alia, the promotion of an international climate based on respect for the principles of the Charter, the norms of international law and the resolutions of the United Nations, an end to what has come to be called a culture of impunity, the promotion of peace based on the principles of freedom, justice and the right of peoples to self-determination, especially of those peoples that continue to languish under foreign occupation. In that regard, we welcome all efforts to promote the role of the United Nations and its organs, including the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the International Court of Justice, along with that of the Secretary-General.
In any consideration of the prevention of armed conflict, it is only to be expected that there will be a focus on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, especially in the light of the present state of affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, and in the region in general. The strange thing here is that the report of the Secretary-General does not include any serious reference to that matter. Paragraph 77 of the report refers to “the Occupied Territories” without any further detail or serious examination of the issue, as if this parcel of territory belonged to the moon and not to the Middle East and Palestine. More than one delegation referred to this point when the report was taken up in the Security Council. As a result, the Secretariat tried to address the matter by issuing a correction. Unfortunately, the correction made matters even worse, as if there were some offices in the Secretariat claiming to have a right to define political positions contrary to the resolutions adopted by the international community.
Recently, we have noted that the reports of the Secretary-General and the documents of the Secretariat on issues relating to armed conflict, including previous reports on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, avoid, for completely unexplained reasons, addressing the issue of foreign occupation as one manifestation of armed conflict. They also avoid any specific reference to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, as well as of other Arab territories occupied since 1967. This trend in drafting reports, whether by commission or omission, reflects a serious disregard for international law, international humanitarian law, the permanent responsibility of the United Nations system towards the question of Palestine and the positions and decisions of Member States. It is inadmissible to disregard the question of foreign occupation and what it represents in terms of endangering international peace and security, and to disregard the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East in any report issued in this regard by the United Nations Secretariat.
The earlier intervention by the representative of Israel contained many distortions and misleading remarks. We are not going to deal with this issue now because we are not discussing now the essence of the question of Palestine or the situation in the Middle East. I would only like to state that Israel is the only Member State of the United Nations that is officially considered by the United Nations organs, including the Security Council and General Assembly, to be an occupying Power. Israel is the only Member State that practises settlement occupation in the twenty-first century. It is the only Member State that has continually violated the Geneva Convention of 1949, as well as many principles of international law and international humanitarian law. It is the only Member State that rejected and completely violated 25 resolutions adopted by the Security Council with regard to the occupied Palestinian territories and scores of resolutions issued by the General Assembly and by other United Nations organs. This is precisely the pattern that would ensure and fuel armed conflict. What is required of the United Nations is precisely to put an end to this practice and pattern of behaviour and to do away with what I described earlier as the culture of impunity.
At this point, I would like to speak about the failure on the part of the Security Council to play any meaningful role over the past 10 months regarding the events unfolding in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, the attacks against the Palestinian people and the potential for a further deterioration of the situation. This undermines the credibility and stature of the Security Council and casts a shadow over its performance, due to the existence of double standards. The Security Council has been prevented from exercising its mandate under the Charter to address the question of the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, which undermines the credibility of the Security Council in preventing armed conflict and in reaching solutions to such conflicts.
We aspire to rectify this abnormal situation. However, if this does not occur, we look forward to the General Assembly’s playing an alternative role with a view to preventing the deterioration of the situation and a drift towards a regional war, God forbid. I am not speaking in abstract terms. I am saying that the situation as we see it now could deteriorate into a regional war, and the Council is not doing anything about this fact. If the Council does not intervene, we will resort to the General Assembly in order to prevent that, and with a view to getting matters back on track towards building peace in that region of the Middle East.
The President: We have heard the last speaker in the debate.
I shall now call on those representatives who wish to make statements in exercise of the right of reply.
May I remind members that statements in exercise of the right to reply are limited to 10 minutes for the first intervention and to five minutes for the second intervention, and should be made by delegations from their seats.
Mr. Diab (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic): I requested the floor in order to comment on the accusations made by the representative of Israel. The representative of Israel forgets, or deliberately disregards, the conditions set by successive Israel Governments over 22 years for implementing resolution 425 (1978) since Israel occupied Lebanese territory in 1978. He forgets that the only force that compelled Israel to withdraw from Lebanon was the will of the Lebanese people, which was embodied in the valiant Lebanese resistance movement.
The Secretary-General stressed in paragraph 7 of his report on prevention of armed conflict, document S/2001/574, that “For early prevention to be effective, the multidimensional root causes of conflict need to be identified and addressed”. No one can deny that the root causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict go back to the occupation by Israel of Arab territories, and a radical solution was defined by the Security Council when it called upon Israel to withdraw from these occupied Arab territories and to return them to their rightful owners under Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
In his last report to the Security Council on the status of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Secretary-General said,
The drastic solution mentioned by the Secretary-General in his report would be in the implementation by Israel of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). That implementation would ensure peace and security in the region.
I wish to remind the Israeli representative of the daily Israeli violations against Israeli violations against Lebanese territory, which are mentioned by the Secretary-General in paragraph 3 of his report (S/2001/423) to the Security Council that I cited earlier: “There were … almost daily violations of the [Blue] line by Israeli aircraft which penetrated deeply into Lebanese airspace.”
Furthermore, the Secretary-General mentions the landmines deployed by Israel inside Lebanese territory from which Israel withdrew. To this day, Israel refuses to hand over to the United Nations the maps that give the locations of those mines. Thus, nearly 100 Lebanese civilians died or were injured or permanently disabled in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal last year.
Also, the same report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council states that the landmines are still in southern Lebanon. Paragraph 9 states, “mines will remain a serious hazard” for UNIFIL in southern Lebanon.
We wonder, is this position in keeping with the culture of peace aimed at putting an end to the armed conflict that the Israeli representative alleges that his Government is seeking?
Finally the representative of Israel referred to the relationship between Lebanon and Syria. I wish to remind him that this constitutes an interference in domestic Lebanese and Syrian affairs, and the Israeli representative has no right to raise such matters.
Mr. Mekdad (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): My delegation would like to exercise its right to reply to the statement made by the representative of Israel.
All the words used by the representative of Israel regarding the role of the United Nations in the prevention of armed conflict, regarding my country, Syria, and regarding the situation in Lebanon were ridiculous. The Israeli representative’s intervention before this Assembly was yet another Israeli attempt to distort facts and create falsehoods. It is clear that the thrust of the Israeli statement was not to help the United Nations efforts to prevent armed conflict; rather, it was a desperate attempt to justify the policies of aggression, killing and genocide practised by Israel.
The Israeli occupation forces just launched a treacherous, unjust aggression against territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority. As I speak, billows of smoke continue to rise out of homes that were demolished without any justification. The destruction of entire Palestinian neighbourhoods a few days ago, condemned by the whole world, falls within the framework of the prevention of armed conflict, contrary to what the representative of Israel claims.
In point of fact, the international community knows that the behaviour of Syria is in accordance with the laws of international behaviour and the resolutions of the United Nations. Syria is scrupulously respecting those resolutions. On the other hand, Syria, in response to Israeli attacks against its forces in Lebanon, has sought to prevent any armed conflict there.
The representative of Lebanon already addressed the Israeli falsehood regarding the role of Syria in Lebanon. However, I would like to make it clear that Syria continues to lend support to its brethren in Lebanon in order to extinguish the fires of civil war, the flames of which Israel did much to fan.
The presence of Syrian forces in Lebanon is legitimate. These forces are there on an ad hoc basis, and the leaders of the two countries continue to consult and coordinate in this regard. It is common knowledge that the United Nations, through its resolutions, has stated that Israel is the occupying Power; it is the only Power in the world that currently practises settlement.
Hezbollah, Party of God, is a Lebanese party that plays its legitimate role in Lebanon and does not receive instructions from any quarter or party — including from Syria. Israel, on the other hand, occupied Lebanon for 22 years, as was noted by the representative of Lebanon.
As regards the peace process, it is common knowledge that Syria was the country that opened the door to that process. Israeli Prime Minister Sharon — almost daily, in public, in broad daylight — declares that he will not return to the peace process. Two days ago he stood in an Israeli settlement in the occupied Golan Heights to declare that the greatest achievement in the history of Israel was the settlements, which he said must be expanded and new ones added. He also said that Israel will never withdraw from these territories.
So what peace is the representative of Israel talking about? What is this respect for resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) that he is talking about? It is clear that Israel uses two different lexicons, one to talk about terrorism, especially State-sponsored terrorism and acts of aggression in the region, and the other to make false, misleading and hypocritical statements in international forums, as we have witnessed today.
Syria is a country that has rights. We have no preconditions regarding the peace process.
The representative of Israel is making hysterical efforts to raise doubts about the position of the Asian Group regarding its unanimous, strong endorsement and approval of the candidacy of Syria for non-permanent membership in the Security Council. That candidacy has drawn support from many countries from all regions. That is because those countries believe in the role Syria is playing and can play. We have full confidence that our brothers in the Asian Group will prove to Israel that it is trying in vain to sway them in any way.
Syria was a member of the Security Council in the late 1940s and in the early 1970s, and would like as always to affirm to all United Nations Members that it will continue to comply with international law and legitimately uphold the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Syria will also continue to abide by these commitments during its forthcoming membership in the Security Council. Syria will work along with all other Security Council members, as well as with all the Members of the United Nations, to strengthen the role of the Security Council in promoting peace and security throughout the world.
Mr. Lancry (Israel) (spoke in French): Since the representatives of Lebanon and Syria have said that the Israeli occupation is the cause and the source of the Israeli-Arab conflict, I feel the need to remind them once again that this so-called occupation did not just fall out of the sky. It is the result of an attempt — made in 1967, by Syria among others — to eliminate the State of Israel.
In 1973, Syria made an abortive attempt to, to use its preferred term, “liberate the occupied Golan” and simultaneously tried again to destroy Israel. Syria’s occupation of Lebanon, at the very least, gives the lie to its claim that it is acting with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Syria should start by withdrawing from Lebanon, which would surely put it in a better position vis-à-vis the principles of international law that it improperly invokes. In that light, I wonder how the representative of Syria can dare to attempt to dupe the international community by swearing respect for international law and international norms.
In that context, we are very mindful of Lebanese voices that are unequivocally raised against Syria’s occupation of that country. I wonder what the representative of Syria has to say to those Lebanese voices. We can only express our wish that Lebanon will recover its full sovereignty, which is a precondition for its internal and external development, and for enabling Lebanon to deploy its own forces along the Lebanese-Israeli border in accordance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978). It would also permit Lebanon to submit Hezbollah — a terrorist organization if ever there was one — to Lebanese law.
I would have nothing to say about the Lebanese-Syrian situation if it were not a matter of extreme gravity with respect to the stability and security of the entire region. And I regret that I must dismay the representative of Syria by pointing out the vital truth: no, Israel is not the only Member State to occupy territory. Through its “fraternal consultations” with the Lebanese, Syria is occupying Lebanon.
Israel has clearly shown its will to make territorial compromises: a complete territorial compromise was adopted with Egypt, and we reached a peace agreement with the Jordanians on that same basis.
At the last negotiations between Israel and Syria — which took place in the United States, at Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in January 2000 — Israel, through then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, offered Syria, represented by its Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Farouk Al-Shara’, a settlement which fully respected Syrian territorial integrity. Syria declined in the name of its national honour — which is nothing other than a somewhat cavalier violation of the integrity of the international border between Israel and Syria, and which thus ignores international law.
Let me also say a word about the concept of peace as understood by Mr. Farouk Al-Shara’; my comments moreover relate to the report of the Secretary-General. Mr. Farouk Al-Shara’ spoke of his concept of peace at a meeting of a prestigious group of Arab writers, held in Damascus in February 2000 — and the extent to which Arab writers can be opinion-makers lends importance to my comment. He said that peace with Israel was nothing more than the transition from a military conflict to an economic, diplomatic, political and cultural conflict. According to Syria, then, peace is a transition from one conflict to another conflict. That is a very simplistic concept of peace that is at total variance with the spirit and the letter of the report of the Secretary-General on the prevention of armed conflict, which, as eloquently stated by the Secretary-General, rests also on economic, social and cultural integration.
With respect to the Security Council and to Syria’s candidature for membership of that body, it is certainly good to have the geographical endorsement of the Asian Group. Article 23 of the Charter makes specific reference to the need to ensure geographical equity, and we have nothing to say about that: we have full respect for the choices and the prerogatives of the Asian group. That is undoubtedly a necessary condition, but it is insufficient by far. Article 23 states that due regard should be specially paid to the contribution of a candidate for membership of the Security Council to international stability and security. Today, Syria —
The President: I am obliged to interrupt the speaker, who has exceeded the time limit.
Mr. Lancry (Israel): I would beg the President to grant me a further 30 seconds.
The President: I would ask the representative of Israel kindly to conclude his statement.
Mr. Lancry (Israel): I shall do so, Sir.
(spoke in French)
Syria is today preventing Lebanon from deploying its forces in southern Lebanon. It thus inspires and encourages Hezbollah and disrupts regional peace and stability, while claiming that it is acting in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. I think that is the most ridiculous statement that anyone could make in this Assembly.
The President: I shall now call on those representatives who wish to speak a second time in exercise of the right of reply.
Mr. Diab (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic): The remarks made by the representative of Israel are indeed ridiculous. We cannot understand his aim in casting doubt on the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon. It seems he is forgetting that the alliance between Syria and Lebanon brought defeat to Israel’s occupation of Lebanon and forced it to withdraw from occupied Lebanese territory. We in Lebanon therefore know who is our ally and who is our enemy.
The comments made by the Israeli representative with regard to terrorism and occupation are ludicrous and laughable. It seems that he believes that the world is blind to the crimes perpetrated by successive Israeli Governments.
Lebanon has not forgotten the massacre committed by occupying Israeli forces at Qana against Lebanese civilians, including children. That act was perpetrated against the symbol of international legitimacy, the United Nations compound, in violation of international law. The Secretary-General’s reports on the subject clearly point out the facts, and I therefore need not speak at length on the matter. The representative of Israel could refer to those records for a first-hand understanding of the nature of the terrorism and occupation practised by his country.
We need not accuse the Government of Israel from this forum, as the Israeli authorities are fully aware of their policy of terrorism. Suffice it to repeat what Israeli opposition parliamentary leader Yossi Sarid said yesterday in the Knesset:
Mr. Mekdad (Syria) (spoke in Arabic): I apologize for taking the floor once again, but the falsehoods that the Israeli representative is trying to spread deserve a reply of several minutes from us. It is clear that the Israeli representative is trying to lie. Moreover, he appears to believe the falsehoods he is propagating.
The representative of Lebanon once again responded to Israel’s remarks about the brotherly relations between Syria and Lebanon. Syria desires to ensure the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon as it does its own. The Israeli representative has no right to speak about Syria the way he does. We challenge him to find any other State in the world that speaks about Syria in that way.
The question of Lebanon has been before the Security Council since 1975. We also challenge him to find any other country besides Israel that challenges the way Syria provides assistance to its brothers in Lebanon. It is Israel that practices terrorism, occupation and massacres in southern Lebanon. As I said in my first intervention in right of reply, Syria’s presence in Lebanon is a form of assistance from one brother to another. It is also a provisional assistance that has imposed a heavy burden on Syrian resources. We look forward to the day when brotherly Lebanon will be able to completely overcome its difficulties. However, Syria will continue to stand by Lebanon until it does so.
The representative of Israel also spoke about the peace process. He knows that the Israeli leadership has demonstrated that it is not serious about the peace process. On the opening day of the Madrid Peace Conference, the then-Israeli Prime Minister stressed that he would extend those negotiations for decades in order that no meaningful result would be achieved.
But the great lie told by the representative of Israel’s occupying authorities is that Syria launched war against Israel in 1967. United Nations documents, world leaders and the international community all know very well that at that time Israel had attacked Arab countries. It has continued to occupy territories since that time, illustrating the nature of its occupation. Israel is interested only in land, not in peace.
What does the building of settlements in occupied territory in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights mean? What does it mean when the Prime Minister of Israel declares that he will not withdraw from those territories? He is now even trying to take back land that is under the control of the Palestinian National Authority. Israel has declared war on peace. Every day it causes destruction. We do not seek territory from Israel. We are claiming our land was occupied on 4 June 1967 and afterwards.
The President: I must interrupt the speaker to inform him that the five-minute period is up. I therefore ask him to be kind enough to conclude his statement.
Mr. Mekdad (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): During the Shepherdstown talks, Israel did not offer what was required of it within the framework of the peace process, and it has not withdrawn from all occupied Syrian territory. That is why the peace talks failed and collapsed. All the comments by the Israeli representative about some interviews given by the Syrian Foreign Minister are untrue, inaccurate or distorted. Given the lack of time, I will not speak in detail about this last point.
Mr. David (Israel): I listened with interest to the statements of the representatives of Lebanon and of Syria. I was pleased that the representative of Lebanon quoted one of the leaders of the Israeli opposition; I look forward to the day when I will be able to hear, and also quote, representatives of the opposition in those two countries.
As far as the words of the Syrian representative are concerned, I would like to draw attention to the fact that there is a reason why his country has served as a headquarters for international terrorist organizations: his own country is a police State, a totalitarian dictatorship, an occupier and a cultivator and trafficker of narcotics. Syria is a nation in which the whole notion of human rights is but a cruel joke to which mere lip service is paid.
With regard to the reference about the negotiations in Shepherdstown, I would like to make it clear that, in an attempt to put an end to the Israeli-Syrian conflict during those negotiations, Israel proposed to Syria a far-reaching compromise which actually was, in the main, a concession to Syrian demands. Yet at the moment of truth, not only did Syria turn down Israel’s gesture, but it also demanded, in return for a peace agreement, territories that it occupied from Israel proper in 1949 and which, under international law, belong to Israel and not to that country. That was one of the reasons why the talks did not succeed.
The President: The Assembly has concluded this stage of its consideration of agenda item 10.
The meeting rose at 12.45 p.m.