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The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda item 24
Culture of peace
Note by the Secretary-General (A/57/186 and Add.1)
Draft resolutions (A/57/L.9/Rev.1 and A/57/L.12)
The President : I give the floor to the representative of El Salvador, who will speak on behalf of the Central American countries and the Dominican Republic.
Mr. Lagos Pizzati (El Salvador) (spoke in Spanish): My delegation is pleased to be able to participate in the debate on agenda item 24, entitled “Culture of peace”, on behalf of the countries members of the Central American Group and of the Dominican Republic. Consideration of this item is particularly relevant today, at a time when the international community is facing a tense and difficult conflict situation, and also because of the potentially negative consequences of abandoning collective action as a means of promoting and maintaining international peace and security. A culture of peace is today more important than ever.
In fact, as a result of the attacks of 11 September 2001 and of the other terrorist acts which have given rise to a worldwide fight against terrorism, the international political situation has deteriorated, threatening multilateral mechanisms for the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security and thus running the risk of bringing about serious political, economic and social destabilization in the entire Middle East region, which undeniably would eventually affect the entire world.
Mr. Atta (Egypt)( spoke in Arabic): ...
The Middle East, more than any other region, is in need of a culture of peace. The continuous cycle of violence and counter-violence prevailing in the Palestinian territories has led to the disappearance of hopes for peace, a phenomenon that accelerated in the course of the 1990s. We must also not forget that Palestinians are an occupied people who suffer daily from the practices of the Israeli occupying force. They are in fact living under siege and are being confronted with the threat of land confiscation. In fact, they are living under threat to their lives. In addition, Palestinians are also deprived of appropriate education and health care, which are the only means of developing human resources. That means that the future of Palestinian children is being buried alive.
As we speak of a culture of peace for children, I would like to refer to the conclusions recently reached by the Committee on the Rights of the Child with regard to the conditions of the rights of Palestinian children living under occupation.
First, the Committee has indicated its serious concern about the lack of information regarding the condition of children in occupied Palestinian territories. The Committee is also concerned about discrimination in the legal definition of an Israeli child, who is a person under 18 years of age. Under Israeli military order 132, a Palestinian child is a person under 16 years of age. The Committee has advised the Israeli Government to ensure that its law conforms to articles I and II of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Secondly, the Committee expressed its serious concern at complaints of Palestinian children tortured by Israeli police at detention centres. The Committee also recommended that the Israeli Government should investigate and prosecute every case of torture and provide compensation if such torture were proved. Thirdly, the Committee has expressed its serious concern about the serious deterioration of health care in the Palestinian territories, and has recommended that every Palestinian receive health care. Fourthly, the Committee on the Rights of the Child has recommended that the Israeli Government commit fully to international humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, refrain from demolishing houses and provide requisite compensation to victims.
My country calls on the forces for peace in Israel to entrench the culture of peace and to break the cycle of violence and counter-violence stemming from the practices of the Israeli occupying forces in the occupied Arab territories.
The President : I have been informed that Israel has asked for the right of reply. I give the floor to the representative of Israel.
Mr. Schacham (Israel): I would like to reply to the statement made today by the representative of Egypt. I agree fully with my Egyptian colleague’s introduction to his statement regarding the importance of achieving signed peace agreements, which remain the best foundation for the development of a culture of peace between two nations that were hitherto in conflict.
That is, indeed, what our two States, Israel and Egypt, have done. Egypt was and is a pioneer among the Arab States in this regard. And its late President, Anwar Sadat, who signed a peace treaty with Israel, was a true man of courage. Since the signing of that treaty, Israel and Egypt have tried to build upon it. Although our relationship can still be cold at times, the effort made by Egypt to promote peace between Israel and the rest of our Arab neighbours has been unrelenting.
I am therefore puzzled by the rest of the Egyptian representative’s statement this morning. The representative of Egypt has, unfortunately, used this vital discussion of a most serious issue to launch an extraneous attack against my country.
The unprecedented and one-sided diatribe by the Egyptian representative refers solely to the situation of one specific group of children and runs contrary to the universal spirit of the two draft resolutions before us. In that connection, Israel welcomed the assessment issued by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in its Recommendations of its thirty-first session that amidst continuing acts of terror, especially the deliberate and indiscriminate targeting and killing of Israeli civilians, including children, by Palestinian suicide bombers, the Committee recognized the climate of fear that persisted and the State party’s right to live in peace and security.
Israel also welcomed the Committee’s recommendation that other non-State actors fully respect the rights of children and refrain from using or targeting children in the armed conflict. Israel also welcomes the Committee’s strong urging that immediate and all necessary measures be taken to end the violence and to ensure that children were not recruited nor participate in the conflict.
Unfortunately, the representative of Egypt completely ignored the cynical abuse of children in the Palestinian campaign of violence and terrorism, the direct participation of Palestinian children in acts of terrorism, including suicide bombings, and the unbridled incitement to violence by the Palestinian educational system and in the official Palestinian media. All those practices have been condemned by the majority of Member States.
The Egyptian statement is also devoid of any reference to the destructive effects that the Palestinian resort to terrorism has had on the Israeli side, which has lost more than 650 civilians, including more than 100 children. Approximately 900 Israeli children have been injured in terrorist attacks. A number of Palestinian terrorist attacks have been deliberately directed at children, including attacks on school buses, discotheques, pizza parlours and other locations where large numbers of children are known to gather.
Unfortunately, the Egyptian statement fails to reflect the fact that the central threat to the well-being of Palestinian children is the terrorists themselves.
In the interest of brevity, I will not exercise again my right of reply on this agenda item.
The President : I now give the floor to the representative of Egypt in exercise of the right of reply.
Ms. Khalil (Egypt) ( spoke in Arabic): As the representative of Israel has just said, Egypt was the first in the Middle East to extend the hand of peace to Israel out of its conviction that peace is the only way to settle the dispute in the Middle East. Violence and counter-violence are a direct result of the oppressive Israeli measures and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory. The only way to break the cycle of violence is the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories in conformity with the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Egypt strongly condemns all acts of violence against civilians, whether Israelis or Palestinians. The Government of Israel is ignoring the fact that violence and counter-violence are a direct result of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. The only solution is Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories.
The President : The Assembly will now take a decision on draft resolution A/57/L.9/Rev.1, entitled “International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010.”
Before preceding to take action on the draft resolution, I should like to announce that, since the introduction of the draft resolution, the following countries have become co-sponsors of A/57/L.9/Rev.1: Belarus, Burundi, Dominica, Egypt, Grenada, Honduras and Kuwait.
May I take it that the Assembly decides to adopt draft resolution A/57/L.9/Rev.1?
Draft resolution A/57/L.9/Rev.1 was adopted (resolution 57/6).
The meeting rose at 1.05 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.