Statements were also made by the representatives of Indonesia, Tunisia, Kuwait, Algeria, Cuba, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Jordan, Oman, Japan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Malaysia and Mexico.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its discussion on the Israeli action in Lebanon.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to continue its discussion on the situation in the Middle East, in particular the Israeli attacks against Lebanon. The discussion began yesterday afternoon with an address by the President of Lebanon, Elias Hraoui.
ISSLAMET PEORNOMO (Indonesia) said that the international community had witnessed two weeks of attacks on Lebanon's territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty. Relevant Security Council resolutions, such as 425 (1978), were also being violated by Israel with impunity. The actions must not be allowed to threaten the hope for peace. The Security Council had taken a step in the right direction by adopting resolution 1052 (1996), which Indonesia had joined to call for an end to hostilities and full respect for resolution 425.
He reaffirmed his country's commitment to the resolution's provisions, including that for a complete cessation of hostilities by all parties and the reaffirmation of Lebanon's sovereignty and integrity within its internationally recognized boundaries. Indonesia supported the convening of the Assembly meeting on the issue. It reflected the need for enhanced cooperation between the Assembly and the Security Council in dealing with issues that impinged on the interests of all Member States. Israel should cease its military action and withdraw its forces. He expressed hope that today's deliberations and diplomacy in the region would help bring that about.
SLAHEDDINE ABDELLAH (Tunisia) recalled the tragedies that had fallen on the Lebanese people and international peace-keepers in the village of Qana. Among the objectives of Israel was to destroy Lebanon's infrastructure, which was being rebuilt after years of civil war. Security Council resolution 1052 had called for an end to hostilities. He denounced the Israeli violation of Lebanese sovereignty and the collective punishment also being meted out to the Palestinians. All those practices should have ended with the new era of the Madrid Conference. Experience had shown that force could not solve problems. A return to force would return the region to the vicious cycle that sowed the seeds of bitterness, violence and vengeance.
The representative said that his country's President had stressed the need to ensure the progress of the peace process and the safety and security of every State. Tunisia had supported the peace process since Madrid on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions and the principle of land for peace. The process should be protected against any setbacks. It should lead to the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territories. All international quarters should use their influence to get Israel to end its action and call for the implementation of Security Council resolution 425, calling for Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory. The General Assembly should support the Lebanese people, stand by their side, call for compensation and reaffirm strongly the need to respect that country's sovereignty.
MOHAMMAD A. ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said that efforts should be made to end the Israeli attacks on and the occupation of Lebanese territory. Israel had continued its use of brutal force as a means to impose security for itself, while ignoring the peace and security of another country. Such actions violated the norms of international law. How did Lebanese power plants, the homes of innocent civilians and historical sites threaten Israeli security? he asked. Its attacks only confirmed that Israel hated the efforts being made to rebuild Lebanon.
He said that the Council of Ministers of Kuwait had condemned the Israeli actions and expressed their support for the Lebanese people. The attacks violated the rules of international law, the United Nations Charter and the armistice agreement concluded between Lebanon and Israel. Israel should respect resolution 425 immediately and withdraw from all Lebanese territory. The Israeli action was a form of State terrorism. Kuwait condemned all forms of terrorism and the excessive use of military force, which only strengthened the feelings of hatred and vengeance among the people of the region. Israel should stop the military action, commit itself to refraining from similar actions, leave Lebanese territory and pursue negotiations towards peace to ensure a just and lasting peace.
RAMTANE LAMAMRA (Algeria) said that his Government's presentation to the Security Council last week had drawn attention to the dangerous tendency to resort to violence. It had also stressed that the international community must respond to the situation in Lebanon to avoid a humanitarian and political disaster and had appealed for restraint and reason but to no effect. Even after the Security Council had called for an end to hostilities, the bombardment had continued and became more intense, further undermining prospects for peace. International problems which were left untended for too long had serious effects and grave consequences and retarded prospects for peace. Israel's illegal occupation of Lebanese territory had led to instability and had undermined Lebanese attempts to have sovereignty over its own territory.
All Member States were obliged to comply with and respect the United Nations Charter and its principles, he said. The exacerbation of situations which imperilled collective security had dangerous consequences. And so, Israel's aggression should be vigorously condemned. The Assembly should also adopt the measures called for yesterday by the President of Lebanon.
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said the international community had every right to be gravely concerned in the face of the new aggression by Israel against Lebanon, and its unpredictable consequences for the Middle East peace process. The General Assembly was meeting after days of fierce military attacks by Israel, after the violations of international law and non- compliance with the conventions on humanitarian international law and after the disproportionate, unpunished and unjustifiable use of military force. The Assembly was also meeting to make a decisive contribution because the Security Council had failed to do so. Now was no time for procedural complications and long debates. His Government hoped that the Assembly would seek justice for the Lebanese people, condemn Israel's aggression with the necessary rigorousness and demand that it end.
Cuba, which had been the victim of terrorist aggression for more than 35 years, had condemned and still condemned all acts of terrorism, he continued. But no reason of national security or pretext of international or regional security -- not even terrorist acts -- could justify aggression, terrorism, the occupation of territories, the massacre of civilians and the violation of international humanitarian norms or any unilateral measures, such as the closing of a country's borders. Every year, more people died from an absence of any right than all those who had died in the worst year of the Second World War. The United Nations had done little to ensure millions of hungary, ill and illiterate people the right to life, health, education and development. The Security Council resolution adopted last week, far from dissuading, had emphasized the climate of impunity; far from bringing peace closer, it had contributed to the escalation of aggression and had proved how inoperative and inefficient the United Nations was. The causes -- double standards, lack of democracy, methods of unofficial consultations and secret lobbying -- were well known.
NABIL A. ELARABY (Egypt) said the international community had long delayed dealing, in an unjustified and unacceptable manner, with the dangerous situation in Lebanon. The Security Council had dragged its feet for too long before it finally convened, after eight days of Israeli aggression. The resolution it adopted last week did not reflect the danger and was not commensurate with Israeli aggression and its effect on civilians and Lebanon's infrastructure. The Israeli aggression had continued without any regard for its destructive implications for the Middle East peace process. The repeated and massive attacks against Israel refuted any flimsy excuses to justify it. Lebanon had resorted to the Assembly after the Security Council's resolution failed to condemn Israel's attacks. The Council's failure to deal with Israel's acts was an abdication of its responsibility for international peace and security and set a dangerous precedent.
The Israeli aggression was a reminder of an era which the world thought had ended and paved the way for a dangerous use of military force by anyone. "Who would be the next victim?" he asked. The Council had failed in its responsibilities, and now it was up to the Assembly to act. It was time for "the hellish, vicious cycle of violence to end". And it was time for an end to the strategic use of aggression to achieve short time goals motivated by electoral interests here or there. Peace was not served by collusion with the Israeli bombing of civilian population centres and Lebanon's infrastructure, the destruction of historical sites in Tyre and the bombing of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) camps. State terrorism was no different from individual terrorism. Israel should compensate Lebanon for damage to the latter's infrastructure. There should be an immediate cease-fire and an end to the blood letting. "Peace in the Middle East was the ultimate objective which should not be lost in the din of military adventures", he added.
REAZ RAHMAN (Bangladesh) said, as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, his country had been party to the decision to convene the Assembly to discuss the Israeli actions in Lebanon, which had led to the death of more than 100 civilians, apart from other hardships. Eight days of attacks had elapsed before the Security Council adopted resolution 1052 (1996), but that action was too little and had come too late. The Security Council's credibility had been compromised by the fact that it had left out some key elements in the Arab draft resolution before it and that Israeli actions had not stopped.
The General Assembly, he continued, which reflected the opinion of the world, should, among other things, call for the strict implementation of Security Council resolution 425 (1978). It should then highlight the serious concerns about the impact of the Israeli attacks on the peace process in the Middle East. Those actions had impeded the process. Peace could not be imposed. It could only be brought about by negotiations towards a just and comprehensive peace in the region.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that the Israeli bombardment had killed many civilians, but few Hezbollah fighters. The crisis was blocking steps to bring about political settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Russia, a co-sponsor of the Madrid peace process, was concerned that the attacks be stopped, so as not to threaten the overall peace process. The action in Lebanon was unacceptable. Similarly, the shelling of northern Israel should stop. Israel should vacate the territory of Lebanon it occupied and security in the area could be ensured by the Lebanese army.
The Russian Foreign Minister was engaged in diplomatic efforts to improve the situation in the region, he continued. Meanwhile, all military actions should stop and all parties should show restraint. Conflicts should be resolved by peaceful means. Lebanon and Israel should negotiate on the basis of Security Council resolution 425, which called for Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and security for Israel. The implementation of a process based on that resolution should be carefully balanced, without giving any side undue advantage. Russia would remain in the Middle East and try to achieve the goals of peace and security there.
ROBLE OLHAYE (Djibouti) said it was time for Israel to withdraw from her occupation of nearly 10 per cent of Lebanon. That was virtually the only substantial claim of Hezbollah and was justifiable. The withdrawal was also sought by Security Council resolution 425, which Israel had ignored. The refusal to leave Arab territories led to a recurring pattern of hostilities, despite the remarkable Arab efforts towards peace. The lack of progress on the issue of land for peace was the core cause of the region's persistent insecurity and should be urgently addressed by all.
He said that the resolution before the Assembly described and reflected the real nature of events in Lebanon. It included reference to the violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949 to protect civilians, the refusal to implement Security Council resolution 425, the high civilian casualties, the relentless bombardments and the need to recognize Lebanon's territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence. It was a fair statement reflecting the world's indignation and the need for Israel to respect all of Lebanon, if there was to be peace.
AHMAD HALLACK (Syria) said that the Assembly meeting was taking place after the Security Council's failure to stop the Israeli aggression and make it pay for compensation. The recourse to the Assembly was an attempt to make the international community shoulder its responsibility and try to stop the aggression. The Israeli action was not justifiable and had been based on the pretext of the Israeli need for security, the excuse for many of its other aggressive acts. Those who wanted peace could not kill innocent civilians or bombard civilian centres.
Israel had displaced millions of Arabs and had exercised terrorist acts, he continued. It should be the last party to call others terrorists. The occupation of land was a form of terror, a fact that could not be changed by conferences or attempts to mislead world opinion. While it committed aggression against Arab lands, Israel called resistance to its actions terrorism. Syria condemned all forms of terrorism, but supported the right of occupied peoples to resist occupation. It was a duty to stand up to those who violated international norms in order to impose a form of peace on its terms. The destruction of civilian homes were acts of terror.
He said that Lebanon had cooperated with efforts to achieve lasting peace in the region, but its attempts had been thwarted by Israeli intransigence. For Israel, peace meant the achievement of strategic advantages over others. That would not be accepted. The international community should speak up and impose a decisive and relevant resolution to forestall any attempt to circumvent any relevant resolutions. The Arabs had condemned the Israeli action and called on the Security Council to do so and force Israel to implement Security Council resolution 425.
Syria supported all that had been said by the President of Lebanon, he said. Syria had been cooperating with all efforts to end the suffering of the Lebanese people. The Assembly should condemn the aggression and force Israel to withdraw immediately from all Lebanese territory, implement Security Council resolution 425 and compensate Lebanon. That would help ensure the United Nations' integrity and save it from the charges that it applied double standards in tackling the problems of the Middle East.
ADAN S. ABU ODEH (Jordan) said he hoped the Assembly session would see justice done and restore confidence to the peoples of the Middle East, as it had been shaken by the Israeli aggression, which was in no way proportionate to any threat. He deplored the Israeli raids, which had destroyed villages and towns and created refugees. He also deplored the massacre of innocent civilians and the brutal use of violence and attacks against civilian populations, just as he condemned acts of violence against innocent civilians wherever they lived.
His country had been one of the first to pursue peace in the Middle East and the third country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, he continued. Jordan thought that would culminate in an agreement on Palestine and Lebanon. Agreements must be based on a global and just peace and accompanied by a total withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories. He called on Israel to change its policy of military aggression and on all countries in the region to use dialogue to achieve peace.
Everyone had thought that a return to the logic of war and violence to achieve objectives was a thing of the past, he said. It would only spur violence, extremism and insecurity. The roots of the problem -- Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon -- must be addressed. The end of occupation was the only assurance that violence would end and progress would be made towards peace. He asked the Assembly to condemn the latest violence. History had taught that massive brutal acts of aggression only deepened the wounds and led to more violence. The Assembly was meeting because the Council had failed to put and end to the violence.
SALIM BIN MOHAMMED AL-KHUSSAIBY (Oman) said that the Sultan of Oman had repeatedly called for negotiation as a way to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. His Government had also called for negotiations to deal with the situation between Syria and Lebanon and between Israel, Lebanon and Syria, in a manner commensurate with just and global peace and with relevant Security Council resolutions. The relentless shelling of Lebanon by Israel was a serious threat to the peace process in the region and a flagrant disregard for humanitarian law. Israel's acts were also counter to goals and objectives aimed at achieving peace in the Middle East.
He called for the parties to put peace ahead of temporary goals and for an immediate halt to military attacks against Lebanon and its innocent civilians. He also called on the General Assembly to take an implicit and clear action and adopt a resolution which called for Israel to withdraw to internationally recognized borders, particularly in accordance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978).
HANS JACOB BIORN LIAN (Norway) said the presence yesterday of the Lebanese President in the General Assembly Hall underscored the important role of the United Nations in the Middle East and its attempts to achieve peace in the region. Norway was currently the largest contributor of troops to UNIFIL and, therefore, strongly regretted that United Nations personnel had been put at risk through actions which had occurred during the hostilities. Hezbollah's attacks from Lebanese villages close to the United Nations bases were totally unacceptable. He also deplored Israeli shelling of the UNIFIL position in Qana.
The peace process in the Middle East was now at a critical phase due to the acts of terror in Israel and the violence in southern Lebanon, he continued. Violence must be stopped in order to put the peace process back on track. The economic and social problems in the Palestinian area due to the border closures were also a great concern. The Israeli decision to redeploy in Hebron was a positive signal for the future of the peace process. Another positive signal was the decision by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to commence the final status negotiations as scheduled in May. He hoped the situation would be stabilized so that negotiations could take place between Israel and the PLO, and between Israel and Syria.
HISASHI OWADA (Japan) expressed regret that the parties were not complying with Security Council resolution 425 (1978) and expressed Japan's sympathy for the families of the victims of the hostilities. There was danger that the spiral of violence could threaten the Middle East peace process itself. Japan had urged all parties, through a high-level diplomatic channel, to cease hostilities and asked other States to use their influence towards that end.
He expressed appreciation for the diplomatic efforts of the United States, France, the Russian Federation and others and hoped that they would succeed. Japan was determined to contribute to the restoration of peace in Lebanon and would extend humanitarian relief, including emergency grant assistance, to help ease the suffering of the Lebanese people.
IVAN ZDRAVKO MISIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina) called for cessation of hostilities and condemned all attacks on civilians, on United Nations locations and the violation of Lebanon's rights. As victims of terror, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina condemned all terrorist acts. Nothing could justify the killing or maiming of innocent civilians. As victim of "ethnic cleansing", the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina condemned all forced movements of civilians from their homes. The shelling of the United Nations compound made him wonder what Israeli aims in Lebanon were. It was clear that Israel was targeting civilians, though. The solution to the tragedy should be based on a clear regard for Lebanese rights. He was ready for any initiative that would create the resumption of the process towards comprehensive peace in the region. The rights of all to live without fear should be the cornerstone of such endeavours. All efforts should conform to international law.
JULIO LONDOÑO-PAREDES (Colombia) said that the death of defenceless civilians under any pretext was not justifiable and should be rejected. Mistakes should not be overlooked. Therefore, they should generate moral, political and financial responsibilities. "We cannot arrive at the amazing case in which the magnitude and the seriousness of certain actions depend on the nationality of the dead", he said. Expressing concern over the deterioration of the situation, he urged total respect for the independence, sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of Lebanon.
He condemned the Israeli occupation of the southern parts of Lebanese territory and called for the speedy and unconditional implementation of Council resolution 425 (1978). Lebanese citizens held in Israeli camps should be liberated, he said. He called for a cessation of hostilities and for the use of peaceful means to settle disputes, as well as respect for the rights of Lebanon. He rejected violence and terrorism whatever its origin and called upon all parties involved to respect the rules of international humanitarian law.
RAZALI ISMAIL (Malaysia) said many had expected that, given the grave situation in Lebanon, the Security Council would have called for Israel to cease its attacks on that country and its people, and to withdraw from southern Lebanon in compliance with the spirit of resolution 425 (1978). But the politics of powers close to Israel had hampered the aspirations of the majority to see the conflict brought to an end and to allow justice and the rule of law to prevail. His Government did not accept that all aspects of the Middle East conflict, including Lebanon, were not the purview of the United Nations. That contention only sidelined the United Nations and allowed the power imperatives of certain countries to hold sway on the issue.
It was left to the General Assembly to address the issue comprehensively, he continued. The international community was duty bound to guarantee the political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon. The United Nations, through the General Assembly, could play a more vital role, particularly in articulating in unambiguous terms its solidarity and support for Lebanon.
MANUEL TELLO (Mexico) said his Government strongly deplored the loss of innocent lives and the destruction of property which had occurred in Lebanon. That country had the right to its sovereignty and a dignified existence, free of the threat of force. The basis for a just and lasting peace was strict compliance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978). Resolution 1052 (1996) did not explicitly comply with the terms of the earlier resolution. The Council must observe with the utmost objectivity any matter before it. His Government had expected a firmer stance by the Council on the loss of life, property and aggression against Lebanon. He appealed for all parties to end the hostilities. His Government reaffirmed its conviction that violence only exacerbated the problems in the Middle East.