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        General Assembly
20 September 1999

Official Records

General Assembly
Fifty-fourth Session
4th plenary meeting
Monday, 20 September 1999, 10 a.m.
New York

President: Mr. Gurirab ........................................... (Namibia)

The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.


Agenda item 9

General debate


The President: The Assembly will now hear an address by the President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria.


President Bouteflika (spoke in Arabic): ...


A concern for peace and concord also underlies Africa’s assessment of the Middle East peace process, which it hopes will come to a comprehensive, fair and lasting solution based on withdrawal by Israel from the territories unjustly occupied by it and on its recognition of the Palestinian people’s legitimate and inalienable rights.


Address by Mr. Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic of Namibia

The President: The Assembly will now hear an address by the President of the Republic of Namibia.


President Nujoma:...


The question of Palestine remains at the core of the problem of the Middle East. Only when the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are restored can there be lasting peace. We welcome the resumption of the peace negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. I reaffirm my Government’s unwavering political and diplomatic support for the Palestinian people under the leadership of President Yasser Arafat.


Mr. El-Khatib (Jordan) (spoke in Arabic): ...


This historic moment is of particular importance in the life of Jordan, which was engulfed by grief a few months ago, when it was deprived of its great leader, the late King Hussein Ibn Talal — may God bless his soul. He had succeeded in turning Jordan from a small country with limited resources into an oasis of peace and stability in a region beset by disturbances and wars. This country has just begun a new era under the leadership of King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein. His Majesty has assumed the responsibility for continuing, with renewed vigour, to lead Jordan to progress and prosperity, as we look forward to ushering in the new century. He is committed also to Jordan’s continuing to make its important and essential contribution to the building of peace in the Middle East and to continuing to contribute generously at the international level. He strongly believes, as Jordan’s leaders have always believed, that our country belongs to this international family. Jordan is committed to the Charter of the United Nations and to the principles of international law.

Our late leader was a unique international leader, with an unflinching belief in the role of the United Nations and in the peaceful settlement of disputes. He expressed his belief in these principles by working all his life to bring about a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East based on international legitimacy. He did this out of his strong belief in human dignity, in people’s right to live free from all forms of injustice and despotism, and out of an awareness that human life is too precious to be wasted in confrontations and wars. Human beings have the right to lead free and dignified lives, channelling all their resources and energies towards achieving economic and social development and participating in building a prosperous and secure future for the generations to come.

Over the past few months, Jordan has continued its efforts to advance the peace process in the Middle East. This process had suffered over the past three years from foot-dragging leading to effective deadlock, all of which severely tested the confidence of the peoples of the region in the peace process as a whole. The result of last May’s parliamentary elections in Israel gave rise to new hopes of reviving this process and putting it back on track. The positive developments of the past few weeks show that the region stands now before a second historic opportunity to achieve peace on all tracks. We sincerely hope that the leaders of the region will seize this opportunity, live up to the expectations and aspirations of their peoples and not hesitate to take the bold decisions needed to bring the negotiations to fruition.

The question of Palestine has been and will continue to be at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Middle East crisis. The establishment of peace in the region therefore requires, first and foremost, that a just solution should be reached to this question — a solution with which the peoples of the region will be satisfied and which they will if need be defend. Jordan has been calling throughout the past year for the Wye River Memorandum, which was arrived at with the unprecedented involvement and assistance of the late King Hussein, to be
implemented. We have been consistently aware of the impact that implementation of the Memorandum would have on reactivating the peace process on all tracks, on establishing confidence and a spirit of partnership between the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships, and on reestablishing confidence in the peace process amongst the peoples of the region. The signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum has enhanced the prospects for implementing the Wye River Memorandum in a way that we hope will advance the final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis so that a settlement may be reached that would ensure that the Palestinian people realize their right to self-determination, including their right to establish an independent State on their national territory, with Al-Quds al-Sharif — Holy Jerusalem — as its capital.

As King Abdullah II has emphasized, Jordan will continue to provide support for a successful conclusion of the negotiations. We are directly interested in their success because the issues on the agenda relate to our
national interest, particularly the issues of the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Over the past 50 years, Jordan, more than any other party, has shouldered the burden of the refugee problem. This has put immense pressures on Jordan’s resources and economy, particularly given that every reduction in the services provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has placed additional burdens on Jordan. Direct expenditures by the Government of Jordan on services provided to the refugees in 1998 reached 4.75 times the amount spent by UNRWA on such services. Total expenditures incurred by the Government of Jordan equal the entire budget that UNRWA spends on refugees in all its areas of operations throughout the Middle East. Jordan calls on the international community not to allow any reductions in the role of UNRWA or in its programmes until the refugee question has been resolved in accordance with international legitimacy — which would lead to the closing of this file in its entirety once and for all. Jordan also calls on the donor countries to continue their support for UNRWA to enable it to continue to discharge its responsibilities.

With regard to the peace process on other tracks, Jordan believes that a comprehensive solution is a prerequisite for the establishment of peace in the region. Without such a solution, no settlement can be assured of durability. Jordan therefore strongly supports the efforts to reactivate negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks. It supports the demand by Syria and Lebanon that negotiations should be resumed from the point at which they stopped. The Jordanian leadership will spare no effort to help bring about a breakthrough in negotiations on both tracks.

Hopes have been rising over the past few weeks that this can be achieved, particularly in view of Syria’s reaffirmation of its full commitment to work for the establishment of peace and of its concern for reviving the peace process and bringing it to its desired goal: the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement. There have also been a number of positive indicators from the Syrian Government and the Israeli Government has said that it is convinced of the crucial importance of reaching a peace agreement with Syria. While looking forward to these positive developments with great hopes, the peoples of the region earnestly desire that this historic opportunity should not be missed and that the efforts made will succeed in reaching a settlement whereby Syria and Lebanon will have their legitimate rights restored through Israel’s withdrawal from the Syrian Arab Golan Heights and from southern Lebanon in implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978).

The peoples of the Middle East region have suffered unprecedented hardships because of the failure to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peaceful settlement. Vast resources have been squandered on a useless arms race that failed to provide security for any of the parties. Today the peoples of the region look forward to real progress in the peace process — progress that will help create a climate conducive to an end to the arms race and to convincing the various parties that peace is the only option capable of providing security for all. It will also convince them to make the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction. This requires a commitment from all parties to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

The issues of refugees, economic disparities and water, as well as the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, require effective regional cooperation and concrete international support. Without resolving the fundamental political aspects of the conflict, the region will continue to suffer from the consequences of noncooperation in resolving these issues. Unless they are resolved, they themselves will escalate and create new hotbeds of conflict in the region.


The meeting rose at 2.05 p.m.

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