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President: The Hon. Julian R. Hunte..............................................(Saint Lucia)
The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m.
The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Alfred Moisiu, the President of the Republic of Albania, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Moisiu (spoke in Albanian; English text furnished by the delegation): ...
The Republic of Albania supports the plans and initiatives aimed at providing a comprehensive and lasting solution to the situation in the Middle East. In that context, we consider the road map to be the way towards the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before reaching that settlement, however, violence and terrorist acts should be renounced forever. Dialogue and the spirit of agreement should be promoted until an enforceable final solution is found. We believe that peace in the Middle East is an important pillar for peace and security the world over. The settlement of the Palestinian issue is essential for the resolution of the crisis in the Middle East and a core element for success in the fight against terrorism.
The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Colonel Azali Assoumani, President of the Union of the Comoros, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Assoumani (spoke in French): ...
Countries and peoples throughout the world are searching for their integrity, their sovereignty and their identity. Most often, of course, that generates threats to peace and security. The same causes produce the same effects everywhere. My country, the Union of the Comoros — today still a victim of its colonial past — is very eloquent testimony to that. But there are similar cases, particularly in China, in Morocco, in Palestine and in other regions. Under those conditions, the Comorian State is experiencing — as might be the case for any other country — all the difficulties of achieving real development in its desire to consolidate democracy.
The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Blaise Compaore, President of Burkina Faso, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Compaore (spoke in French): ...
In the Middle East, where the escalation of violence and the intransigence of the belligerents make us fear the worst every day, we believe that the road map offers an opportunity to emerge from this crisis. However, without an international body on the ground to follow up and monitor events, no agreement on this major conflict can work.
Agenda item 9 (continued)
The Acting President: I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency The Honourable Pierre Charles, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Pierre Charles (Dominica): ...
While the attention of the international community is focused on restoring peace and security in Iraq, we cannot turn a blind eye to the breakdown in the Middle East peace process. My delegation supports the road map for peace in the Middle East and calls for the removal of the obstacles that have stalled the process. We embrace the two-State solution as the only mechanism for a lasting peace in the Middle East. The State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority must both commit to a ceasefire and return to the agreed obligations under the road mapframework.
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Lassana Traoré, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali.
Mr. Traoré (Mali) (spoke in French): ...
The overall situation prevailing in the Middle East, in particular the conflict in Iraq, remains a burning issue of the day and a major concern for the international community. We should point out to the protagonists of these conflicts that war is never anything other than a political failure and that the victories of peace are no less renowned than those of war. Peace between Palestinians and Israelis will garner more fame than all wars combined. The parties to the conflict should be mindful of that.
In addition, we invite the international community to provide aid and assistance to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority because the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and the restrictions imposed as a result of occupation have caused a clear deterioration of the socio-economic fabric of Palestinian society. It is therefore to be feared that the strategy of destruction will henceforth become a constant in how conflicts unfold in general.
The President: I now call on Mr. Kamal Kharrazi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Mr. Kharrazi (Islamic Republic of Iran) (spoke in Farsi; English text provided by the delegation): ...
The violence against and the killing of innocent Palestinian people by the Israeli Army have become a daily occurrence, and prospects for a viable peace are steadily diminishing. The Palestinian people live under brutal occupation and oppression with no hope for relief, let alone peace and prosperity. The policy of the Sharon Government of reoccupying Palestinian cities and using military force to further terrorize the Palestinian people has exacerbated the situation and added to the despair and frustration of ordinary people. The international community has a major responsibility to take effective measures in alleviating the suffering of the Palestinian people.
The recent decision of the Israeli regime to expel President Arafat from his homeland has outraged the international community, in general, and the Muslim world, in particular. I am confident that the free and civilized world will continue to reject and condemn such a move by Israel. It is regrettable that the United States, last week, once again and for the thirty-sixth time, resorted to the veto to block the adoption of a draft resolution.
Weapons of mass destruction are among the most potent threats to peace and security at the regional and global levels. The Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological Weapons Convention and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) are the results of our collective wisdom in our efforts to eliminate the threat of chemical and biological weapons and the spread of nuclear weapons. We believe that more needs to be done. We should do more to make these basic international instruments universal. We should also do more to strengthen verification of their implementation. Finally, we should all work collectively, as mandated by the International Court of Justice, to move towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
By adhering to all of these three instruments as an original party, my country has shown its determination to work towards the complete eradication of weapons of mass destruction from the Earth. Our commitment to international regimes on weapons of mass destruction lies not merely in our contractual obligations but, more importantly, in our religious convictions and historical experience. No country has suffered as acutely as mine from the tragic scars left from being victims of such weapons, particularly against the backdrop of a complacent international environment. We are convinced that the pursuit of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction will not only fail to provide deterrence or enhance security and influence, but will only increase vulnerability. Thus, I can state categorically that for all these reasons, weapons of mass destruction have no place in the defensive strategy of my country. We believe the only option is to work actively towards a global and regional ban on these weapons, and we have thus spared no effort in this regard.
However, the efforts to ban, or strengthen the ban, on weapons of mass destruction should not provide any excuse for denying States the right to develop technology for peaceful purposes. Unfortunately, the political pressure against the Islamic Republic of Iran to relinquish its inalienable right to develop peaceful nuclear technology is mounting, while some nuclear weapon States continue to test and develop advanced tactical nuclear weapons programmes. Furthermore, in defiance of international calls to adhere to the NPT, Israel is continuing, with impunity, its clandestine development of sophisticated nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. All NPT Review and Extension conferences have called for the suspension and freezing of Israel’s tactical weapons and nuclear programmes, which are the real threats to international peace and security. They are both considered to be in contravention with the letter and spirit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): The next speaker is His Excellency Mr. Vartan Oskanian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia.
Mr. Oskanian (Armenia): ...
Each year we speak of the need for a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, never believing that next year, the region can become even more volatile and explosive. We believe the United Nations and all Member States must continue to support the renewal of the full-scale peace process. In Israel and Palestine, Armenia hails the Quartet’s efforts, recognizing that the endangered road map remains the only viable option for peace in a long-suffering region.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now give the floor to Her Excellency Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria.
Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner (Austria): ...
In spite of renewed efforts by the international community to revive the Middle East peace process, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has again tragically deteriorated. But current setbacks must not stall the implementation of the road map. Austria continues to strongly support the role and the responsibility of the Quartet. The concept of two States remains the only viable solution. The promise of land for peace must be reactivated to create a basis of trust and respect on which to build. Terrorism destroys such hope.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): ...
I shall now call on those representatives who wish to speak in exercise of the right of reply.
Ms. Abdelhady-Nasser (Palestine): The statement made today by the representative of Israel was replete with distortions and fabrications. Moreover, it conveyed Israel’s consistent and blatant contempt for the international community as represented in this world body, including in this Assembly. The judgement of the overwhelming majority of Member States upholding international law and international humanitarian law has once again been treated with disdain.
Instead of Israel changing its course and complying with international law, the international community was told today that it must change its ways when it comes to upholding the law with regard to the question of Palestine. With such arrogance and such contempt for even the most fundamental tenets of international law, including the United Nations Charter, Israel has continued to act with impunity as it continues to carry out its more than 36-year military colonial occupation of the Palestinian land and the Palestinian people.
It is the Israeli Government that has brought diplomatic efforts to a standstill and that is the real obstacle to peace and stability. Indeed, they vilify and threaten out leader and elected President because they do not want a peace settlement, and not vice-versa. In fact, the Israeli Prime Minister, his Defence Minister and his Army Chief of Staff are, as is well known, responsible for countless war crimes committed against the Palestinian people. The Prime Minister himself has been deeply implicated in massacres against the Palestinian people. This is a Government full of extreme right-wingers, many espousing racist ideologies and propagating incitement and intolerance, with some even calling, publicly, for the expulsion or transfer of the entire Palestinian population from the occupied territory.
It is the most right-wing Government in Israel’s short history. Yet somehow we are asked to believe that this is a Government that actually wants peace, when in fact all of its actions are to the contrary. The same Government that delivers flowery speeches about peace and beating swords into ploughshares continues to relentlessly use its warplanes, helicopter gunships, tanks and bulldozers against the Palestinian people, even today killing more civilians, including a 3-year-old girl in Gaza. Moreover, we should recall that it is the Israeli occupation that is the root cause of all the ills we face today, including condemnable acts of terror.
The time limit prevents me from exploring in detail all of the Israeli violations against the Palestinian people or calculating what the proportional impact of the number of deaths caused by the widespread destruction inflicted on the Palestinian people by the occupying Power would be in comparison with other countries, which the Israeli representative neglected to calculate. Suffice it to say that there is no instrument of international law or noble legal principle that Israel has not grossly violated, in terms of both its policies and its actions as a State and as an occupying Power. These include the acquisition of territory by war; colonial policies and actions; the forcible transfer of people to occupied territory; systematic human rights violations, including wilful killings; State terrorism; collective punishment; discrimination against minorities; the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction; the violation of the sovereignty of many other States, including through military attacks and assassinations; money-laundering; trafficking in human persons and in small arms and light weapons; and the violation of the basic and inalienable human right to self-determination.
Thus the picture before us is bleak. Today, however, there was a glimmer of hope. It was reported that 27 Israeli air force pilots had submitted a letter to their commander refusing to carry out air strikes in Palestinian areas because such air strikes are “illegal and immoral” and condemning the continuing Israeli occupation. They — along with the army officers who have refused to serve in the occupied Palestinian territory and the many other Israelis who truly work for peace — represent a voice of conscience, and their principled stance gives us renewed hope in the possibility of actually achieving peace between the two peoples, regardless of the current Government’s positions and actions.
The meeting rose at 7.55 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.