Question of Palestine home
24 September 2011
th plenary meeting
Saturday, 24 September 2011, 6 p.m.
In the absence of the President, Mr. Mayr-Harting (Austria), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The meeting was called to order at 6.10 p.m.
Agenda item 8
The Acting President
: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Jean Asselborn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Peace, security, dignity — these are also key words when we talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the right of two peoples to live in peace, security and dignity.
A solution to this conflict, which has lasted too long and has poisoned the entire region, must necessarily be reached through the recognition of the right of both parties — not just one of them — to live in a sovereign and viable State. This is unfortunately not yet the case, despite the hope inspired by the courageous words of President Obama at this very rostrum last year (see A/65/PV.11). On the contrary, we have seen neither a halt to the illegal construction of settlements, nor a significant lifting of the embargo on the Gaza strip. The revival of direct peace talks was short-lived.
We all heard Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s vibrant appeal yesterday, his call for recognition of the his people’s legitimate right to a State and for acceptance of the aspirations of Palestine to have a seat in the Assembly and to fully assume its place among the nations of the world. I can only hope that his appeal will be heard. Israel’s legitimate desire to live for the long term in security depends on the realization of the right of the Palestinians to live in dignity in their sovereign State.
But merely responding to this appeal is not enough. It is imperative that negotiations between the two parties start again as soon as possible. Only negotiations will allow tackling the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The parameters for a settlement have been known for a long time. I fully support the proposal made yesterday by the Quartet for a strict timetable: one month to agree on the agenda and modalities of the negotiations, and no more than a year to reach a comprehensive agreement.
I appeal to the parties to show proof of their political will and ability to make the necessary compromises and sacrifices so that by the end of 2012 peace in the Middle East finally becomes a reality. From this rostrum, I reiterate firmly that the restart of negotiations cannot again stumble over cement and stones, and I dare believe that the Israeli Government knows that. In their efforts both now and in the future, the parties can count on the nations of the European Union, including my country, Luxembourg.
The Acting President
spoke in French
): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Steven Vanackere, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Institutional Reform of the Kingdom of Belgium.
Let us finally look at the Middle East, a conflict region that has this week received much attention here in the Hall. Dag Hammarskjöld, to whom this week is dedicated and who himself devoted much of his effort to finding a lasting peace in that region, said more than half a century ago: “The building of a firm bridge … over which you can pass without any difficulties may be a long story”. More than 50 years later, we still do not have such a “firm bridge”. That is not acceptable.
The parameters of a sustainable solution are well known. Both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples have legitimate aspirations. People want statehood. People want to live in peace and security. These were the messages that President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu brought us yesterday. It must be possible to satisfy both legitimate needs.
Over the past few months, the European Union and its High Representative have spared no effort to get a process of negotiations started. There is no alternative to negotiations, however difficult and risky the path may be. It is therefore my sincere hope that the steps proposed by the Quartet yesterday will be fully implemented.
It is also clear that the Palestinian Authority has successfully progressed on the road to statehood, also thanks to the important and sustained contributions by the European Union and by Belgium, and that it has now reached a level of statehood that the world cannot ignore.
Now is the time to show leadership. After all, that is what accountability towards the people of the region is all about.
The Acting President
spoke in French
): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Franco Frattini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Italy.
Never has mediation been more necessary in the tense stand-off between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Confrontation has led nowhere. The time has come to defuse this long-standing and disruptive conflict through recourse to dialogue and the building of mutual trust. We continue to strongly back American efforts, and we welcome the Quartet’s new effort to gather the necessary support to restart the negotiations between the parties towards the creation, very soon, of a strong and safe Palestinian State.
Within the European Union, which has to speak with one voice, Italy is also ready to exercise more leadership and political vision in relaunching the peace process.
The Acting President
spoke in French
): I now call on Her Excellency Ms. Trinidad Jiménez, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Spain.
... The legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people to enjoy freedom cannot be left out of this wave of change.
The Arab-Israeli conflict has been with the United Nations almost since the Organization’s founding. This session may be remembered as the one in which the General Assembly granted Palestine the status of observer State. Spain could support such a decision, for a number of reasons.
First, the international community recognizes that a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict requires the existence of two States, Israeli and Palestinian, living side by side in peace and security.
Secondly, after more than 60 years of conflict, the international community should send a clear signal to the Palestinians underlining that its commitment in favour of the creation of the Palestinian State is deep and unambiguous.
Thirdly, in the year in which the Arab Spring changed realities in the Arab world — and, indeed, in the world at large — the just, legitimate and long-standing aspiration of the Palestinians to live in dignity in their own State, free from occupation and its accompanying suffering, deserves a clear response from the international community, a response that can no longer be postponed.
This new step could be conceived as a stage towards the legitimate objective of Palestine’s becoming a Member State of the United Nations with full rights.
Effective, sustainable peace can only be achieved through negotiations between the parties. Spain believes that the Palestinians could find in this new status a stimulus for the prompt resumption of negotiations. Precisely because that is the shared goal of the parties and the international community, such a situation should not be used for actions incompatible with the spirit of negotiations. Israel should also contribute to this spirit by refraining from measures that prejudge the final status.
Spain is coordinating its position with its European Union partners. I am grateful for the efforts of the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, to reactivate the negotiations, in a way acceptable to all European Union member States, and the declaration of the Quartet, which Spain assesses very positively.
Spain’s engagement with the Palestinian people and their struggle against occupation is long-standing and known to everyone. Spain has always given political, economic and moral support to the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians.
On the other hand, the historical relations between Spain and the Jewish people date back many centuries. Spain’s historical identity cannot be understood without its Arab and Jewish heritage.
I wish to underscore Spain’s commitment to Israel with regard to the endeavour to create a homeland for the Jewish people. Since its founding, Israel has experienced a number of wars and has suffered from terrorism against its civilian population. For Spain, the security of this young State born out of an ancient people is essential.
The best way to preserve that State is through a peace treaty that, among other things, provides for the establishment of a Palestinian State along the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps and with Jerusalem as a shared capital. The security of Israel and Palestine will require effective guarantees in the future peace agreement, including possible international participation, should the parties request it.
The future peace agreement should look to the future, turning its back on the painful years of conflict. Therefore, Israel and Palestine have to be certain that claims originating from the conflict will be overcome with their signature of the peace agreement.
In addition, the solution to the painful tragedy of the Palestinian refugees must be a just one agreed by all the parties concerned, while allowing the preservation of Israel’s current character. The Palestinian State will be, in this regard as well, a key element for the final resolution of the conflict.
The meeting rose at 8.10 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 U-506. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.