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        General Assembly
7 June 2001

Official Records
General Assembly
Twenty-fifth special session
3rd meeting
Thursday, 7 June 2001, 9 a.m.
New York

President:Mr. Holkeri ...............................................................................(Finland)

The meeting was called to order at 9 a.m.

Agenda items 8, 9 and 10 ( continued)

Review and appraisal of progress made in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda

Note by the Secretary-General (A/S-25/3 and Add.l)

Further actions and initiatives for overcoming obstacles to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda

Declaration on cities and other human settlements in the new millennium


The President : I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Mohammed Al-Khussaiby, Secretary-General, Ministry of National Economy of Oman.

Mr. Al-Khussaiby (Oman) (spoke in Arabic ): ...


Habitat is an international issue, as are human settlements. This is why we believe that the world is responsible for these two issues. Therefore, we have to adopt an international approach to solve the problems facing us and to improve the social, environmental and economic conditions prevailing in human settlements. For this reason, we would like to express our concern as to what is happening in the Palestinian-occupied territories with reference to the illegal Israeli settlements, because the continued settlement policy there creates further conflict, and this is a very negative development.


The Acting President : I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Ali Abdol Alizadeh, Minister of Housing and Urban Development of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mr. Abdol Alizadeh (Islamic Republic of Iran) (spoke in Persian; English interpretation furnished by the delegation ): ...


Let me now just draw attention, very briefly, to some of the major current and recurrent problems facing the international community. First of all, I should say that I agree with you, Mr. President, that we are at the beginning of the urban millennium. But, let us not forget the almost totally neglected rural millennium, particularly in the developing world.

Worse than the rural plight is the precarious situation of refugees, an unfortunate persisting phenomenon of global dimensions and one also requiring an urgent global collective response. The plight of refugees and the homeless can hardly find a more telling example than that of the oppressed Palestinian people. We believe this important international gathering on human settlements must, by its very rationale, take a very strong position in denouncing the Israeli policy of systematic destruction of Palestinian homes and simultaneous expansion of settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.


The Acting President : I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Mohammed Al-Douri, Chairman of the delegation of Iraq.

Mr. Al-Douri (Iraq) ( spoke in Arabic ): ...


In conclusion, Palestinian towns occupied by the Zionist entity are destroyed daily and face expropriation. The influx of Jewish people into that area and the proliferation of Jewish settlements go against all international laws and norms and the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. The Palestinian population faces all kinds of coercion and daily aggression. The international community is called upon to strongly intervene in order to put an end to this aggression, to restore the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, to restore land to its rightful owners and to rehabilitate Palestinian towns, and to condemn all forms of aggression perpetrated by the Zionist entity in the Golan Heights and in certain other areas of southern Lebanon.


The Acting President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Sélim Tadmoury, Chairman of the delegation of Lebanon.

Mr. Tadmoury (Lebanon) ( spoke in Arabic ): ...


As to human settlements, it is very important to point out the need to protect the demographic composition and cultures of occupied territories. It is unjust to transfer inhabitants from their homes. We need to respect international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Israel must abide by the provisions of that treaty in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights. Israel, the occupying Power, should respect legitimate international resolutions in order to establish a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.

My country suffered a great deal from Israel’s occupation of its southern region for 22 years. Israel destroyed a large number of human settlements and other sectors of the country also saw the destruction of their infrastructure over the course of 15 years. In 10 years, my country has achieved a great deal and has reconstructed its towns, especially the capital, Beirut, taking into account the need for balance between the environment and human needs. We have also enhanced the legal system and are working to establish urbanization projects in the northern and southern suburbs of Beirut and to rehabilitate human settlements in the southern part of the country. We appeal for the support of the international financial institutions and of donor countries for these projects, which will further our objectives with respect to human settlements. We need a minimum of international cooperation.

My delegation feels that the draft declaration on towns and human settlements in the context of the new millennium represents an important step forward. We support the United Nations in its local, regional and international efforts to establish the necessary conditions for viable human settlements, allowing modern humankind to focus its energy on creating a better world.


The Acting President (spoke in Arabic ): I give the floor to Mr. Mikhail Wehbe, head of the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Mr. Wehbe (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic ): ...


In considering the improvement of conditions in human settlements, we should not be distracted from focusing on the problems to which such settlements are being subjected as a result of war and conflicts and natural disasters in several parts of the world. During our meetings, many delegations have referred to the suffering of their peoples as a result of such factors. In the Middle East, the destruction of human settlements and the environment and the deprivation of the right of the Arabs to benefit from them is a systematic policy pursued by Israel through its occupation of Arab territories in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

The world witnessed this during the visit of His Holiness John Paul II to the city of Quneitra, which was completely destroyed by Israel before it pulled out in 1974. The city remains as it was left, a witness to the brutality of the Israeli occupation and Israel’s lack of respect for international values, treaties and conventions, to say nothing of the principles of international humanitarian law. After occupying the Syrian Golan in 1967, Israel, persistent in its defiance of international legitimacy and the Geneva Conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, evicted the Syrian population. At that time the population was 130,000; it is now 500,000. Israel evicted them from 244 cities, villages and farms, which it then destroyed.

Israel built or is finishing about 40 settlements in place of the towns and villages that it destroyed. When the Syrian citizens who were not evicted by Israel try to build new houses, Israel cuts off the water and electricity supply, in preparation for destroying those dwellings on the pretext that they have no building permits — but they have no such permits because Israel refuses to grant them.

Israel continues to defy Security Council resolution 497 (1981) of 17 December 1981, which calls upon it to rescind its decision to annex the Syrian Golan and refrain from changing its geographic and demographic nature. This is also the case with resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), which call upon Israel to fully withdraw from all occupied Arab territories. Israel also flouts and rejects General Assembly resolutions relating to the occupied Syrian Golan.

The destruction of houses in the Palestinian occupied territories has become a systematic policy pursued by Israel. They are a direct target for its planes, tanks, guns and bulldozers. Israel does not hesitate to perpetrate such acts, which run counter to all international norms and values. Instead, it invents pretexts to justify such practices. Tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza strip and Jerusalem have been displaced by Israel; they have been evicted from their homes and their houses have been destroyed. This is taking place in Jerusalem for reasons that are well known, the most significant of which is the attempt to Judaize that Arab city. Today, there are more than 200 Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem. The Israeli Government announces daily the establishment of new colonies — despite the peace process, and despite the condemnation levelled at it by the international community for these abominable practices.

In this connection, we would like to refer to Security Council resolutions 446 (1979) and 465 (1980). They state that such settlement activities are illegal and unlawful. They also state that settlement activities pose a danger to the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. In addition, such settlement activities curb the growth of local Palestinian communities, and this in turn has social and economic repercussions on the citizens of Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan, as stated time and again by the General Assembly in many of its resolutions.

The current Israeli Government is trying to consolidate its position and entrench its policy by building more settlements and expanding those that already exist in accordance with the policy declared by Sharon to strengthen settlement activities — activities that are internationally rejected.

Allow me, in conclusion, to express our appreciation for the efforts made by the Commission on Human Settlements to prepare for this special session. Rest assured that the Syrian delegation will cooperate with the President to make this important session a success.


The meeting rose at 1.15 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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