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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/57/PV.6
14 September 2002

Official Records
General Assembly
Fifty-seventh session
6th plenary meeting
Friday, 14 September 2002, 10 a.m.
New York

President:Mr. Kavan ......................................................................... (Czech Republic)

The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.

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Agenda item 9 (continued)

General debate

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The President: I call on His Excellency Mr. Kassymzhomart K. Tokaev, Secretary of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Mr. Tokaev (Kazakhstan): ...

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The world community is closely watching the development of the situation in the Middle East. Interested States quite justifiably express their concern over the deteriorating chances of a peaceful settlement. We support the need to convene as soon as possible an international conference on the Middle East settlement in order to take parallel steps: to strengthen Israel’s security, to strengthen Palestinian economic and political institutions and to settle the details of the final peace agreement. The international community also has to intensify its efforts to curb terrorism and meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.

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The President: I give the floor to His Excellency The Right Honourable Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mr. Straw (United Kingdom): ...

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Over the past year we have seen a further deterioration in security in Israel and in the occupied territories. There has never been a greater need for international involvement in the Middle East peace process to secure the outcome we all want to see: two States, Israel and Palestine living side by side within secure and recognized borders, based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002).

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The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Mircea Geoana, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania.

Mr. Geoana (Romania) (spoke in French): ...

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The danger that the violence in the Middle East will escalate beyond control cannot be ignored. My recent discussions with political leaders from the region have reinforced my conviction that it is crucial to find a way to renounce the logic of war in favour of a logic of peace. We call on the parties to engage in serious negotiations for a peaceful, comprehensive and lasting solution. Their success or failure will have consequences far beyond their own immediate region, impacting upon what might be termed the wider Middle East, encompassing the entire region from Central Asia to North Africa.

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The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Joschka Fischer, Deputy Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany.

Mr. Fischer (Germany) (spoke in German; English text provided by the delegation): ...

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We welcome the fact that President Bush, in his most recent speech, turned towards the Security Council. Even if it becomes very difficult, we must do everything possible to find a diplomatic solution.

The Security Council and Member States must make it unequivocally clear to Baghdad that the unrestricted and unconditional re-admission of the weapons inspectors is the only way to avert a great tragedy for Iraq and the entire region. The Iraqi Government must implement all relevant Security Council resolutions in their entirety and without delay.

We do not, however, want any automatism leading to the use of military force. The fight against international terrorism remains perilous. We have not yet managed to fully stabilize Afghanistan. Explosive regional conflicts in Kashmir, the Middle East and the Caucasus must be resolved or at least effectively contained.

Certain central questions arise for us. Have all economic and political means of pressure been truly exhausted? What consequences would military intervention have? What would it mean for regional stability? What effect would it have on the Middle East conflict? Are there new, concrete findings and facts? Does the situation as assessed justify the taking of a great risk, namely, taking responsibility for peace and stability in the entire region for years or even decades to come? Would such action gain the consent of the Arab neighbours? What consequences would it have for the continuation of the global coalition against terrorism? In the face of these open questions, we feel deep scepticism with regard to military action and thus hold to our approach.

I would like to pose the further question of whether a peaceful solution to the question of the Middle East could not contribute considerably more to the establishment of regional stability, to the successful fight against terrorism and to the effective control and disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. In that way, would the regime in Baghdad not be isolated much more effectively, thus generating political pressure for change? Would this cooperative approach to finding a new order for the region not be a more promising way to bring democracy to the Middle East — one that would be supported by the regional Powers?

Nowhere is the connection between terrorism and regional conflict more obvious than in the Near and Middle East. The breakthrough to peace is therefore of paramount importance in that region of the world. The consensus among the international community of nations on the Middle East question is now greater than ever. We must all pull together to achieve the goal envisaged by President Bush for 2005, that of two States, Israel and a democratic Palestine, living as neighbours within secure and recognized borders. The European Union has devised a road map to achieve that goal. An early conference on the Middle East could help to build bridges and accelerate the process. Together with our European Union partners, we are ready to make a considerable contribution in that respect.

A comprehensive peace in the Middle East must also include Lebanon and Syria. Saudi Arabia’s significant initiative contains the assurance that the Arab world would then also be ready to fully normalize its relations with Israel.

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The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Felipe Pérez Roque, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba.

Mr. Pérez Roque (Cuba) (spoke in Spanish): ...

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Why have we not seen the same zeal with which the war in Afghanistan was unleashed in the search for a just and lasting solution for peace in the Middle East? Why have some refrained from uttering even a single word to condemn the aggressions against the territory of Palestine and the crimes against its people? Why has there not been any condemnation of the selective assassinations and the use of the armed forces against the civilian population? Why are there assurances of impunity for the actions of the Israeli army, thus tying the hands of the Security Council? Why have there not been any firm actions to implement the Security Council resolutions that ensure the proclamation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital? Why is the only superpower on the planet acting differently from one case to the other? Why is there no end to the suffering of the Palestinian mothers whose children are also murdered, like the innocent people on 11 September? These questions should be answered by those who in this Hall carry upon their shoulders the responsibility for what is currently happening in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories.

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The President: I now give the floor to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Oman, His Excellency Mr. Yousef Bin Alawi Bin Abdulla.

Mr. Abdulla (Oman) (spoke in Arabic): ...

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The Middle East is experiencing increased tension due to a serious regression in the peace process on all tracks, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian track. The primary causes of this are the Israeli Government’s deviation from the fair principles and foundations established at the 1991 Madrid Conference, and the desire of successive Israeli Governments since 1996 to impose peace through excessive force. This runs counter to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and to the formula of land for peace. Israel is pursuing a policy of procrastination and intimidation and is circumventing international instruments and agreements signed by the parties concerned. This has resulted in a further escalation of Palestinian resistance, by all factions and in all forms, to Israeli occupation.

My Government condemns all terrorist acts, regardless of their motivation and deplores all acts of violence against innocent civilians, whether perpetrated by the Palestinian or the Israeli side. Events have proven that the use of force against the Palestinian people will not lead to a fair solution, to an end to violence or to security, as the Israeli Government claims; nor will it end the legitimate Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation. The end of such resistance is contingent upon the end of Israeli occupation.

All Arab States have affirmed that the achievement of a peace based on the principles of international law and justice is our strategic choice, and we have exerted great efforts to that end, the latest being the Arab peace initiative adopted unanimously at the Beirut Summit held last March. This historic initiative was widely welcomed by the international community because it is in conformity with international legitimacy and principles, and in compliance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), which demand the withdrawal of Israel from the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, including Al-Quds Al-Sharif, and the granting to Palestinian refugees of the right to return, in return for the recognition of Israel by Arab States and the normalization of relations with it.

Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) sets out the concept of establishing a recognized Palestinian State peacefully coexisting alongside the State of Israel. In that connection, my Government calls on the international community, especially Security Council members, to shoulder their responsibility to ensure that the Israeli Government will respect and implement relevant international resolutions and respond seriously to Arab and international efforts.

My Government supports the just position taken by the Syrian Arab Republic with respect to regaining the occupied Golan Heights and its request for Israeli withdrawal to the line of 4 June 1967. In the same vein, we support the position of the Republic of Lebanon with regard to recovering the occupied Shab’a farms area and its demand that Israel fully implement Security Council resolution 425 (1978), which calls for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from all Lebanese territory, including the Shab’a farms area.

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My country deeply believes that the accession and commitment of States to treaties and conventions on disarmament will strengthen and preserve peace and security on the regional and international levels. Consequently, the signature of the Sultanate of Oman remains on the record as a State party to such treaties.

Based on that principle, we emphasize the need to take practical measures to make the Middle East a region free from all weapons of mass destruction. In that connection, we request Israel to join all relevant treaties, beginning with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and to subject its nuclear facilities to the safeguards inspection regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency. That would create a positive climate and put an end to arms proliferation in the region.

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The President: I remind members of the 15-minute time limit on statements, and urge them to adjust their statement to conform to that agreed limit. I now call on His Excellency Mr. Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

Mr. Tuomioja (Finland): ...

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The Middle East remains the region where our concerns are most concentrated. The conflict between Israel and Palestine has, if anything, worsened. We support all efforts of the “quartet” to get the peace process working again on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions. We support the Palestinian administration’s effort at reform, which we have rightly demanded must be undertaken, and we expect a one-hundred-per-cent effort from it to stop all terrorist activities. At the same time, the Palestinians must be given the prospect of a clear commitment and a timetable for the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian State. The Palestinian administration has to be given the resources and conditions with which it can fulfil the requirements of what the international community demands of it and of what the Palestinian people have the right to expect.

Without progress in the Middle East peace process, any military action in the region can have extremely dangerous and unforeseen consequences. It is imperative that efforts to get Iraq to abide unconditionally with all the resolutions of the Security Council remain the responsibility of the United Nations.

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The President: I thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Papua New Guinea for the statement he has just made. I call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Yemen, His Excellency Mr. Abubakr Al-Qirbi.

Mr. Al-Qirbi (Yemen) (spoke in Arabic): ...

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Israeli violence and terrorism levelled against the defenceless Palestinian people constitute a genuine obstacle to the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace and create hotbeds of extremism and terrorism. Such violence impedes international efforts and initiatives to solve the Middle East question, while threatening stability, security and prosperity in the region. It also increases the incidence of violence and extremism and presages unpredictable consequences. Consequently, the international community must exert the utmost pressure on Israel to implement Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002), and General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 1948 and to withdraw from all occupied Arab territories — Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese — and return to the 4 June 1967 borders. The international community must work towards establishing a Palestinian State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

We reiterate our position that the Arab peace initiative constitutes an integrated framework for the achievement of peace. Peace for Israel will not be achieved unless it withdraws from the occupied Palestinian territories, helps to re-establish the Palestinian security institutions and grants the Palestinian Authority control over its own territory.

We stress that the Palestinian people are solely responsible for choosing their leadership and representatives for negotiating a final settlement. In this connection, we look forward to the outcome of the efforts led by the United States and the other members of the “quartet” to solve the Middle East question. We hope that the United States vision will be transformed into a time-bound programme that will lay down guidelines to prevent Israel from circumventing any new agreement, as it did those of Oslo, Camp David and Sharm el-Sheikh, through recent statements by Sharon.

Since the Republic of Yemen is interested in the security and stability of the Middle East, we emphasize the need for Israel to get rid of its nuclear arsenal and to subject its nuclear facilities to international supervision. Israel should strive to free the Middle East region of weapons of mass destruction.

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The meeting rose at 1.20 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-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.



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