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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
23 September 2010

General Assembly
GA/10996

        Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly
Plenary
11th & 12th Meetings (AM & PM)



OPENING GENERAL DEBATE, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS 'GREAT GOALS ARE WITHIN REACH',

URGES MEMBERS STATES TO STAND UNITED ' AGAINST FORCES THAT WOULD DIVIDE US'
 

Theme of Debate: Reaffirming Central Role United Nations in Global Governance;
Assembly President Says World Body Must Reform, Act with More Efficiency, Unity


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Background

The General Assembly met today to begin its general debate.

Opening Remarks

Opening the general debate, United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON recalled that the Organization was bound by sacred duties:  to care for the welfare of others, to peacefully resolve conflicts and practise mutual respect.  “Today, we are being tested,” he said, stressing that social inequalities were growing and people everywhere were living in fear of losing their jobs.  Too many others were caught in conflict.

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Recalling the United Nations activities in Iraq, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Kyrgyzstan, he said that in Afghanistan, the Organization was carrying on despite difficult security and humanitarian conditions, while on the Korean peninsula, it had encouraged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks.  On Iran, the United Nations had urged constructive engagement with the global community and compliance with Security Council resolutions.  In the Middle East, it was working with the Quartet to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion.

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Statements

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BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, ...

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Amid such upheavals, the United States had pursued peace, he said, recalling that last year, he had pledged to support the goal of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as part of comprehensive peace.  This month, the United States had pursued direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.  While many were pessimistic, saying that peace simply was not possible, he asked delegates to consider the alternative:  Palestinians would never know the pride that came with their own state.  Nor would Israelis know security among neighbours committed to coexistence.  More blood would be shed.  “I refuse to accept that future,” he said, asking each to choose the path of peace.  Parties must answer the call of history.

He called on Israelis and Palestinians to rally behind the goal that their leaders shared.  A test of that would centre on Israel’s settlement process and he urged that the moratorium be extended and that talks press on until complete.  Security for Israel meant statehood for Palestine, and rights of Palestinians would be won only through peaceful means, including reconciliation with Israel.  The Arab Peace Initiative Follow-Up Committee should make tangible steps in that regard.

After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs were not “strangers in a strange land”.  Those who long to see an independent Palestine must also stop trying to tear down Israel, which was a sovereign State.  Efforts to chip away at its legitimacy would be met with United States opposition.  He challenged the Assembly to come back next year with an agreement that would lead to a new United Nations Member, an independent, sovereign State of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.  Three great religions saw Jerusalem’s soil as sacred and if that was recognized, next year could be different.

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ABDULLAH GÜL, President of Turkey, ...

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Turkey welcomed direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but progress towards lasting peace would be very difficult without an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, he continued.  The Israeli attack on an international humanitarian aid convoy on the high seas in May had been a clear violation of international law; Turkey expected a formal apology and compensation for the families of the victims and for those who had been injured.  The report of the fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Council on that incident provided a legal framework for establishing the facts, and Turkey looked forward to the successful completion of the work of the Panel of Inquiry.

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HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI, Emir of Qatar, ...

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Regarding Palestine, he said that Israel’s “persistent violation of international and humanitarian values was reflected in the acts of piracy committed against peace activists who tried to break the unjust siege imposed on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.  He called for the international community to demand that Israel lift the blockade “immediately and fully”.  A lasting acceptable peace agreement on the question of Palestine would “guarantee the rights of the Palestinian people, particularly the establishment of Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital”.

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MAHMOUD AHMEDINEJAD, President of Iran, ...

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Turning to Palestine, he said that the Palestinian people had lived under the rule of the occupying regime for 60 years.  They had been deprived of freedom, security and the right to self-determination while the occupiers had been given recognition.  On a daily basis, houses being destroyed over the heads of innocent women and children and people were deprived of water, food and medicine in their own homeland.  The Zionists had imposed five all-out wars on neighbouring countries and on the Palestinian people.  They had committed the most horrible crimes against defenceless people in the wars against Lebanon and Gaza.  They had also attacked a humanitarian flotilla in blatant defiance of international norms and had killed civilians.

That regime, which enjoyed the absolute support of some Western countries, regularly threatened countries in the region and continued publicly announced assassinations of Palestinian figures and others while Palestinian defenders and those opposing it were pressured and labelled terrorists and anti-Semites.  All values, even freedom of expression valued in Europe and the United States, were being sacrificed at the “altar of Zionism”.  Solutions to that problem were doomed to fail because the rights of the Palestinian people were not taken into account.  He wondered if those horrendous crimes would have been witnessed if, instead of recognizing the occupation, the sovereign right of the Palestinian people had been recognized.  Iran’s unambiguous proposition was for the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland and for a vote by the people of Palestine to exercise their sovereignty and decide on the type of governance they wanted.

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ABDULLAH II, King of Jordan, ...

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In the meantime, it was critical for the United Nations to reassert its leadership role in promoting peace.  Indeed, peace remains hanging in the balance in some regions.  While an end to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict was long overdue, the recent direct negotiations between the two sides had opened the door to a final, two-State settlement.  The establishment of an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian State, living side by side with Israel, would pave the way for regional peace.  He noted that no regional conflict “has had a longer or broader impact on global security and stability, remained longer on the UN agenda, or had frustrated peacekeepers more”.

However, he stressed that success must not be underestimated.  Without swift action, hard choices and real results, the suffering and frustration would continue; a catastrophic scenario would continue to “drag in the whole world”, threatening security and stability beyond borders in the Middle East.  To prevent that, he said, the direct talks must be approached with commitment, sincerity and courage, and he warned against provocative or unilateral actions that could derail negotiations.  Further, final status issues must be addressed with a view to ending the occupation and achieving a two-State solution, he said, “the only solution that can work”.

In conclusion, he said Jordan and the Arab and Muslim world remained committed to achieving peace; its Arab Peace Initiative reached out to Israel with an unprecedented opportunity for a comprehensive settlement that would enable Israel to have normal relations with 57 Arab and Muslim States.  He said, “Together, we must tip the balance toward peace.”

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EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, ...

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... He appealed to President Obama to put an end to the economic embargo against Cuba and in Palestine.

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JALAL TALABANI, President of Iraq, ...

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He said Iraq’s foreign policy sought to establish international relations based on shared interests and respect for its international obligations.  On that basis, it sought better relations with Arab and Islamic countries.  It supported the Palestinian people’s struggle for rights, including the establishment of a Palestinian State, and considered the Arab Peace Initiative a practical step towards resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and accomplishing peace and stability in the Middle East.


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