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15th plenary meeting
Tuesday, 20 September 2005, 10 a.m.
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
Item 9 of the provisional agenda (continued)
The President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Mr. Lengsavad (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) ( spoke in Laotian; English text provided by the delegation ): ...
In the Middle East, although the situation remains difficult and complex, a degree of progress has been made that ought to be further promoted. In order to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace in the region, the question of Palestine in all its aspects should be resolved in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. In this regard, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic reaffirms its unwavering support for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people, under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to exercise their right to self-determination, including their right to establish an independent State of Palestine living side by side with Israel.
The Acting President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Silvan Shalom, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel.
Mr. Shalom (Israel): It is my unique pleasure to praise His Excellency Ambassador Dan Gillerman, my emissary to the United Nations, who is in the Chair at present, upon his election to the post of Vice-President at this session of the General Assembly, and to wish him much success.
These are optimistic times in the Middle East. The iron wall that has defined Israel’s relations with most of the Arab and Muslim world for generations, is coming down. Israel’s contacts with Arab and Muslim States are growing at a rate never seen before. Countries like Pakistan and others that in the past refused to acknowledge our shared humanity, today extend their hands in friendship and recognition. Relations with key Muslim States, such as Turkey, are flourishing, while our peaceful ties with both Egypt and Jordan are constantly improving.
Here in New York this week, I have had the honour of meeting with more than 10 of my colleagues from the Arab and Muslim world — a number unthinkable just two years ago. Those meetings have been friendly, as is only fitting for countries that are not in conflict — either territorially, or economically. Israel welcomes this new readiness for contact, and we encourage our neighbours to build on the foundations that we are now laying. Contacts between Israel and its Arab and Muslim neighbours are good for the region, and good for peace.
We all share a common interest in building a region of tolerance and cooperation — a region where the moderates have the initiative, not the extremists, whose violence has set the agenda for so long. Indeed, those who genuinely wish to help the Palestinians and to bring them the benefits of peace and prosperity must realize that building contacts and cooperation with Israel is a crucial element in that process.
Possibilities for cooperation abound. In fields as diverse as agriculture, health, the environment, transportation and electricity, the potential benefits of Middle East regional cooperation are immense. Such cooperation can bring tangible and immediate economic benefits, as Israel’s improving relations with Jordan and Egypt have shown.
Unfortunately, many of our ties with the Arab and Muslim world are still deep in the shadows, hidden from the public eye. Today, I call on my Arab and Muslim colleagues to bring our contacts out into the light of day, so that our peoples may understand our shared desire to work with each other to bring peace and prosperity to our region. I call on the leaders of the Arab and Muslim world, to join us in speaking to our populations of peace rather than conflict, of reasons to cooperate, rather than reasons to boycott.
In November of this year, I will sit alongside my Arab and Muslim colleagues at two international gatherings: the World Summit on the Information Society, in Tunisia; and the summit of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, in Barcelona. I call upon the international community and my Arab and Muslim counterparts to work together with us to ensure that those meetings result in concrete projects that will help reinforce our peace efforts on the ground.
This is also the time for the international community to renew its investment in the future of the Middle East by reviving the multilateral track of the Middle East peace talks.
Just one week ago, Israel completed the evacuation of all Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip. Entire families — many of whom had lived and tilled those lands for three generations — were called upon by their Government to leave and to begin their lives anew. Today, there are no more Israelis in Gaza. Israeli military rule is now over. Responsibility for the affairs of Gaza and its residents is now in Palestinian hands. Israel’s actions have opened the door to a new future, and we invite our neighbours to walk with us together through that door.
We are committed to the road map, and we wish to get back to its full implementation. To do that, we need a partner. A partner who is committed, as we are, to the peaceful resolution of our differences, and to the democratic and universal principles on which peace is founded.
Israel attaches great importance to the Palestinian assumption of responsibility. In it lies the key to progress towards peace. The transfer of responsibility for Gaza provides the Palestinian side with the chance to take their fate into their own hands; an opportunity not just to say that they want to govern, but to show that they are ready and able to do so. Gaza, we hope, will serve as a model for how the Palestinian Authority can build a functioning, democratic and peaceful society.
Recognizing the significance of this moment, Israel is taking great pains to ensure that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is given every opportunity to establish his authority. We want to promote conditions that will benefit ordinary Palestinians, without posing a security threat to Israel.
Israel has expressed its strong support for international aid and assistance for the social and economic development of Gaza, and we are committed to facilitating those efforts. Constructive international engagement is crucial to the Palestinian Authority’s success. The international community’s priority now must be ensuring that the Palestinian Authority an Israel has expressed its strong support for international aid and assistance for the social and economic development of Gaza, and we are committed to facilitating those efforts. Constructive international engagement is crucial to the Palestinian Authority’s success. The international community’s priority now must be ensuring that the Palestinian Authority and its institutions can deliver the services and outcomes their people and ours expect and deserve.
Economic reconstruction, of course, is not enough. The Palestinian Authority must also deliver on its commitment to end the campaign of terror against Israel. For Israel, security is an issue on which we will never compromise. We insist on the end of terror and the dismantlement of its infrastructure, for the safety of our citizens, and so that our peace efforts can succeed.
Turning Gaza into a model of success requires that the Palestinian Authority act to promote and protect democracy from its enemies. Here, as with security, there is no room for discounts. Simply holding elections is no guarantee of moderation and responsible government.
Two days ago in Gaza, the terrorist organization Hamas held a rally of 10,000 armed men dedicated to a holy war against Israel. Like Al-Qaida and the other organizations in the global network of terror, Hamas seeks to destroy everything that the international community and the moderates in our region seek to build: tolerance, democracy and peace. Hamas is responsible for the deliberate murder of hundreds of Israeli civilians, amongst them scores of women and children. Israel cannot and will not grant legitimacy to such an organization. We will not cooperate with its desire to participate in the forthcoming Palestinian elections. And we call on the international community to make clear its own opposition to the inclusion of such terrorists in the democratic process. If Gaza is indeed to be the positive model we all wish to see, then it is those who promote dialogue, not violence, who must be empowered.
The President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait.
Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah (Kuwait) ( spoke in Arabic ): ...
Kuwait reaffirms its full support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to attain all their legitimate political rights. Kuwait demands that Israel move forward in fulfilling all its commitments and obligations under the relevant United Nations resolutions, primarily Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1515 (2003), in accordance with the principle of land for peace and the provisions of the Arab peace initiative, the bilateral accords it signed with the Palestinian Authority within the framework of the peace process, and the road map, with all its provisions and obligations. Israel must also end its policy of oppressing the Palestinian people, dismantle the separation wall and release all Palestinian detainees.
The State of Kuwait views the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a first step to be followed by additional measures to be taken by Israel to end the occupation, in compliance with the relevant United Nations resolutions and in preparation for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on Palestinian national soil, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. Kuwait hopes that the Israeli withdrawal will lead to the resumption of peace efforts in the region to ensure full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Arab Golan to the borderline of 4 June 1967 and its withdrawal from the rest of the Arab territory in southern Lebanon. Thereafter, a settlement should be reached through negotiations among all parties concerned to establish a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region — a peace that would be enhanced by making the Middle East region, including the Gulf region, a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
The President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Bedjaoui, Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria.
Mr. Bedjaoui (Algeria) (spoke in French ): ...
As diverse as the Arab countries may be in their political, economic and social realities, we still have the same aspiration, which is bearing us towards a future of peace and progress to be shared by all if possible. In other words, we are fully aware that no peace and no sustainable economic momentum can be built in the Middle East unless the Palestinian people recover their full and complete sovereignty in the occupied territories, including Al-Quds Al-Sharif, capital of their independent State.
It is a positive thing that the risks of nuclear proliferation have received heightened international attention in the last few years. The seventh Conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty held last May should have provided us with a special occasion to develop and adopt appropriate measures to deal with the problem on a consensual basis. However, we must note that our expectation was not met, particularly with respect to the 13 measures on nuclear disarmament agreed to at the preceding Conference. Algeria, which has adopted and supported the Additional Protocol on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards regime, also fully supports total and complete disarmament, as well as the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction. But we cannot conceal our concern that an exception to the treaty that has been tolerated, even allowed, in a region as riven by conflict as the Middle East only further underscores the discriminatory approach that prevails with respect to non-proliferation.
The President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain.
Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé (Spain) (spoke in Spanish ): ...
In the Middle East, the disengagement from Gaza, carried out with great skill and with great effectiveness by the Israeli Government, may constitute a powerful driving force in the peace process. It is only right to congratulate the Government of Israel for its decision. I also extend my congratulations to the Palestinian National Authority for having significantly contributed to the entire operation, so that it was completed in a peaceful manner. Now that the disengagement has been satisfactorily completed, the road map must again become the central framework for the peace process.
The President : I now call on Her Excellency Mrs. Aïchatou Mindaoudou, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of the Niger.
Mrs. Mindaoudou (Niger) (spoke in French ): ...
Concerning the Middle East, my country wishes to reaffirm once again that settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict necessarily depends upon the realization of the rights of the Palestinian people, including the creation of an independent, sovereign and viable State. In that regard, Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is a positive step that, we hope, will permit the resumption of negotiations within the framework of the road map.
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.