Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS
The President (spoke in French): On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Majesty King Mswati III, Head of State of the Kingdom of Swaziland, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
King Mswati: It is a pleasure for me to address the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session.
Furthermore, we are also following with keen interest efforts to ensure peace between Israel and Palestine. We are pleased to note the concerted mediation efforts led by the United States of America in bringing the parties together in pursuit of peace in the Middle East. We support this process, and remain optimistic that it will reach its desired conclusion, so that the Israelis and Palestinians can live together in harmony. In order to concentrate all their efforts towards development and peaceful coexistence, we call upon them to reach a compromise and place the best interests of peace and security above everything else.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Malam Bacai Sanhá, President of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Sanhá (spoke in Portuguese; English text provided by the delegation): First, I congratulate Mr. Joseph Deiss on his election to preside over the Assembly at this sixty-fifth session. I am convinced that our work will be crowned with success thanks to his proven competence and experience.
We support the efforts being made to resolve the conflicts in the Middle East, through coexistence of a Palestinian State with the State of Israel. Our membership of the Alliance of Civilizations and of the Community of Democracies in particular is based on the rules of peaceful coexistence among ethnicities and religions, and on the promotion of human rights.
Agenda item 8 (continued)
The President (spoke in French): I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Mr. José Socrates, Prime Minister of the Portuguese Republic, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Socrates (Portugal) (spoke in Portuguese; English interpretation provided by the delegation): I wish to begin by congratulating you, Sir, on your election as President of the General Assembly. The Assembly is the central body of the United Nations architecture. Here, all Member States are truly represented and each has a vote, irrespective of its size, population or economic power. Here is where the central decisions that determine the functioning of the other bodies are made. Here, we are all permanent members, embodying the principle of the sovereign equality of all States.
Looking at the present challenges to international peace and security, allow me to refer to the situation in the Middle East, a conflict involving many negative influences in the relations between several peoples and cultures. The coming year will be critical to the peace process. The choice is clear: peace or a return to instability.
We welcome the return to direct negotiations aimed at reaching a two-State solution. We all have to join efforts for the creation of an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side, in mutual peace and security, with the State of Israel.
Address by His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, Chair of the Executive Committee
of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): The Assembly will now hear an address by the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority.
Mr. Abbas (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic): It gives me pleasure to congratulate Mr. Joseph Deiss on his election to the presidency at this session and to wish him every success in fulfilling his important tasks. We would also like to convey through you, Sir, our thanks to His Excellency Mr. Ali Abdussalam Treki for his valuable efforts during his presidency of the General Assembly at its sixty-fourth session.
We would like also to express our thanks and appreciation to His Excellency Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his tireless efforts in strengthening the role and work of the United Nations and its bodies in various fields. In particular, we greatly appreciate his efforts, and those of the United Nations entities, especially the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which continues to work to provide essential services to Palestinian refugees, who have been waiting for more than 60 years for redress of their plight and the realization of their right to return to their homes and properties.
I am well aware that the agenda of the General Assembly is filled with matters and issues of pressing concern to the entire human race and to our planet, particularly those relating to armed conflict, wars and the struggle of people under foreign occupation to realize their right to self-determination, as well as climate change, global warming, natural disasters and the global economic and financial crises.
All of this is happening at a time when we are witnessing rightful demands for the revitalization of the United Nations, particularly reform of the Security Council aimed at making it more representative and truly reflective of the current international situation. This is especially important in the light of the emergence of new Powers, which should be represented in the Security Council in order to enhance its role and effectiveness in maintaining international peace and security.
There is also significant discontent over some States’ non-compliance with Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. This demands that the international community take vigorous, effective measures to compel those countries to respect and implement these resolutions; to end colonization, occupation and exploitation in our world so as to promote the values of freedom, justice, tolerance and coexistence; and to combat extremism and terrorism. Indeed, the United Nations has a fundamental role to play in promoting cooperative relations among peoples and guiding them towards investment in the development of societies and infrastructure, as well as in fighting poverty, unemployment, desertification, disease and epidemics and the lethal human and environmental risks they pose for humanity and the future of our planet.
Our people, our homeland, Palestine, and our region, the Middle East, are facing extremely serious problems that continue to push them towards violence and conflict, wasting chance after chance to seriously address the issues faced by the peoples of the region and to arrive at comprehensive and bold solutions. This is the result of the expansionist and hegemonic mentality that still prevails in the ideology and policies of Israel, the occupying Power, whose standard policy is non-compliance with internationally legitimate resolutions, including those of the General Assembly and the Security Council. Such disrespect has rendered those resolutions ineffective, undermined the credibility of the United Nations and bolstered the prevailing view that double standards are in effect, particularly regarding the Palestinian question, and that Israel is a State above the law, flouting all these resolutions and engaging in oppression, arrests, detentions, killings, destruction, demolition of homes, blockades, settlement expansion and the establishment of the annexation apartheid wall, violating and undermining the existence and the rights of our people in their own homeland.
The ancient city of East Jerusalem, capital of the independent State of Palestine and designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site requiring protection, is being subjected by Israel, the occupying Power, to actions that alter and distort realities on the ground. Such actions destroy landmarks, cemeteries and the religious, spiritual and historical identity of the holy city in every aspect and as quickly as possible, aiming to erase its historical character and pre-empt final status negotiations. This is in addition to the continuous excavations under the Al-Aqsa mosque, the demolition of homes, the deportations and revocation of the residency rights of its population and the imposition of a siege on the city in an attempt to isolate it from its natural Palestinian Arab surroundings and to control it geographically and demographically.
This situation is a provocation to our people. It antagonizes them and gives rise to anger, especially in the Arab and Islamic world. It creates instability in our region and constitutes a serious obstacle to the achievement of peace and security. All of these illegal Israeli measures and practices must cease.
This is also the case with regard to the situation in the Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to an unjust, illegal and unprecedented land, air and sea blockade in violation of international law and United Nations resolutions. It is also the target of harsh Israeli military aggression that has severely damaged its infrastructure. This illegal blockade and aggression have resulted in the destruction of the infrastructure and productive capacity of Gaza and destroyed 25 per cent of its homes and nearly 75 per cent of its jobs, leading to widespread unemployment and dependence on international aid. The Israeli blockade is preventing our people in Gaza from rebuilding their homes, even though the international donor community has pledged some $5 billion to finance reconstruction. The blockade against the Gaza Strip must be lifted immediately and completely, and the tragic suffering being inflicted on our people there must be ended as soon as possible.
We welcome the efforts of the international independent fact-finding mission established by the Human Rights Council concerning the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla, which was carrying humanitarian assistance for our people in the Gaza Strip. We welcome the conclusions reached by the mission, and we also look forward to the submission by the Panel of Inquiry established by the Secretary-General of its findings to the Security Council.
To all of this I must add the fact that thousands of Palestinian prisoners and detainees remain in Israeli jails and detention centres. They are all fighting for freedom. They must be released and an end must be put to their suffering. This is essential for creating a positive environment for the attainment of peace. We cannot reach a peace agreement that does not liberate all of them from their chains and their imprisonment.
In spite of all of this and despite the historic injustice that has been inflicted upon our people, their desire to achieve a just peace that guarantees the realization of their national rights in freedom and independence has not and will not diminish. Our wounded hands are still able to carry the olive branch picked from the splinters of the trees that the occupation forces uproot every day. Our people aspire to live in security, peace and stability on their Palestinian national soil, to build the lives and future of our generations.
We are willing and ready to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on rights and justice and on the resolutions of international legitimacy. Such a settlement must lead to the withdrawal of Israel, the occupying Power, from all the Arab and Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, so that the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as their capital, can enjoy independence and sovereignty and so that peace can prevail throughout the Middle East.
Because of our genuine desire to attain a comprehensive peace in the region, we have decided to enter into final status negotiations. We will exert every effort to reach an agreement for Palestinian-Israeli peace within one year, in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy, the Arab Peace Initiative, the road map and the vision of the two-State solution. On behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization, we have reaffirmed our commitment to the option of just peace and our determination, seriousness and sincere intention to make these negotiations succeed, in spite of all the difficulties and obstacles before us.
The international community should draw lessons from the reasons for the faltering of the political process and the inability to achieve its goals in the past. Restoring the credibility of the peace process mainly requires compelling the Government of Israel to comply with its obligations and commitments. In particular, the Government of Israel must cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially in and around East Jerusalem; dismantle the apartheid annexation wall; and put an end to the policy of blockade and closures that restrict the lives and movement of our people and deprive them of their basic human rights.
Our demands for the freezing of settlement activities, the lifting of the blockade and an end to all other illegal Israeli practices do not constitute preconditions that are alien to the political process. Rather, they are consistent with the implementation of previous obligations and commitments which have been repeatedly reaffirmed in all the resolutions adopted since the start of the political process.
Israel’s implementation of these obligations and commitments will lead to the creation of the necessary environment for the success of the negotiations and will give credibility to its pledge to implement the final agreement. Israel must choose between peace and the continuation of settlements.
From this rostrum, I reaffirm that we will continue, as we have always done, to make every possible effort so that these negotiations will achieve the desired objective of realizing peace by addressing all final status issues, namely Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, borders, water, security and the release of all prisoners and detainees. This must be done in a manner that will achieve freedom, independence and justice for the Palestinian people in their homeland, rectify the historical injustice inflicted upon them, achieve security and safety for all their neighbours, lead to a just peace throughout the Middle East, including on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, and thus usher in a new era of stability, progress, prosperity, coexistence and good-neighbourliness.
The political process will be put back on the right track only if the international community assumes the main responsibility for ending the Israeli occupation, the longest occupation in modern history; ensures our people’s right to self-determination in their independent sovereign State based on the borders of 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital; and finds a just and agreed solution to the plight of the Palestinian refugees. This must all be carried out through the implementation of the principles of the Charter, the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, and the provisions of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. All of these measures constitute the legitimate political terms of reference for any successful negotiation leading to a final peace settlement.
Our people, despite the profound and continued suffering they have endured, hold steadfast to their rights, their land and their national soil. At the same time, they are determined to restore national unity and the bonds between the two parts of our homeland. We are making every effort to restore unity through dialogue and the good, honourable efforts of our brothers and friends, especially the Arab Republic of Egypt. On our part, we will spare no effort to end the division resulting from the coup against Palestinian legitimacy and to establish democracy as an essential foundation of our body politic.
We will also assume our responsibility for building national institutions for our independent State and national economy, and for ensuring the security and safety of our citizens under a national authority based on the rule of law, accountability, transparency and justice. We will also continue to fulfil our obligations under the road map and the agreements reached between the two sides.
In conclusion, it is imperative in this context to express our appreciation to all those who have contributed to sponsoring and supporting the peace process. Here, I would like to express my special thanks to His Excellency Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, who affirmed in his statement before the Assembly (see A/65/PV.11) two days ago the two-State solution and the need to freeze settlement activities and establish the independent State of Palestine with full membership in the United Nations next year. On this occasion, we reaffirm our readiness to cooperate fully with his country’s efforts for a successful political process to achieve a comprehensive and just peace in the region.
We must also pay tribute to the United Nations for preserving our cause and extending a helping hand to our people through its resolutions and decisions, which constitute an unshakeable foundation for peace. From this rostrum, we call on the United Nations to continue its pivotal role until justice is upheld, our people have regained their usurped rights and peace prevails in our entire region. We reiterate our appreciation for the Organization’s tireless efforts to stand in solidarity with the just cause of Palestine, and we reaffirm our faith in the peace to which we and all the peoples in the region aspire. We ask God to bless us with a future in which we will all enjoy peace, security and stability.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): On behalf of the General Assembly, I wish to thank the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority for the statement he has just made.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Mr. Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Ould Mohamed Laghdaf (Mauritania) (spoke in Arabic): At the outset, allow me to congratulate, on behalf of Mr. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and on my own behalf, His Excellency Mr. Joseph Deiss on his election as President of the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session and to wish him every success in his new duties. I have great confidence that his diligent efforts will have a positive impact on our Organization, as did those of his predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, whose praiseworthy labours strengthened the ties of cooperation, the bonds of brotherhood, and the universal principles of peace and dialogue within the General Assembly.
The Arab-Israeli conflict remains a source of tension and a threat to international peace and security in an extremely sensitive and vital area of the world. That region will know no stability until a definitive solution to the conflict is found. Such a solution must be just and permanent and in accordance with resolutions of international legitimacy. It must allow the brotherly Palestinian people to exercise their full right to establish their independent and viable State in Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. It must also ensure the restoration of all occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights and the Lebanese Shab’a farms .
Mauritania hopes that the direct negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, sponsored by the United States, will conclude in tangible results and an acceptable time frame. There is no people in the Middle East that needs peace more than the Palestinian people. My country has called for the lifting of the unjust siege on Gaza and for an end to its collective and inhumane punishment. Restoring rights and justice to their owners and between nations and cultures is the best means to achieve peace and security in the world.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Guido Westerwelle, Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Mr. Westerwelle (Germany) (spoke in German; interpretation provided by the delegation ): It is an honour for me to speak to the General Assembly today.
German peace policy stands for the peaceful settlement of regional conflicts. Germany is doing its utmost to ensure that the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians are a success. We will continue to strengthen the forces of reason and reconciliation. During this vital period for the peace process in particular, I urge both sides to refrain from taking any action that might block the path to peace. We condemn any form of violence that has the sole aim of torpedoing the peace talks. At the same time, we call for the moratorium on settlement construction to be extended. Lasting peace will be achieved only through a two-State solution, with Israel and a Palestinian State living peacefully side by side within secure borders.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Mr. Aboul Gheit (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic): The beginning of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly coincides with the preparations of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), chaired by my country, to celebrate 50 years of achievements. During those years, the Movement has greatly helped to reinforce international and multilateral action under changing regional and international circumstances. The Movement’s work over those years has demonstrated the ability of developing countries to contribute effectively to the maintenance of international peace and security, make progress in development, and promote human rights, basic freedoms and the furtherance of good governance at the international level.
Year after year, we return to the United Nations to debate the question of Palestine and the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Every year, our words swing between the hope for a complete but unrealized breakthrough, and the fear of a deterioration and an explosion that would compound the pain and suffering of the Palestinian people and aggravate the dangers of overreaching extremism, militancy and violence faced by our region.
This year is no different. It is true that there is hope in the wake of the start of direct negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides; however, chances for success remain slim. Despite the agony of the road to negotiations, Egypt believes that their relaunch may represent an important opportunity that should not be squandered.
It is important for the Israeli side to realize that negotiations are not an end in themselves. They are neither a game nor a waste of time. A serious approach must be the basis and distinguishing mark of the negotiating process. Without the required seriousness and credibility, the process will soon lose the little support it enjoys from the public on both sides. Egypt believes that these negotiations should seek to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the implementation of the two-State solution through the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital and its borders based on the lines of 1967, as has been confirmed by the United States, the sponsor of the negotiations, and the international Quartet on all occasions and mentioned by President Obama a few days ago.
During the first round of negotiations in Washington, D.C., and later in Sharm el-Sheikh, we heard Israel’s assurances of its commitment to the required seriousness. Therefore, we call on the Israeli side to take the difficult and necessary decisions, as President Mubarak said two days ago, to achieve a just political settlement that would allow the peoples and countries of the region to transcend decades of conflict, victimization and wasted resources.
There is no doubt that a freeze in Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories has become a major factor in determining the intentions of the Israeli side and its level of commitment to the success of the negotiations. Should Israel fail in its commitment to prolong the moratorium on its settlement activities, it would expose the negotiation process to collapse and bear full responsibility before regional and world public opinion, as well as the sponsor, for wasting a valuable opportunity afforded by a major United States effort. Israel would also bear responsibility for any negative consequences. Were Israel to pass this test, we would look forward to a quick resolution by both parties of the question of borders between them. The solutions in this respect are known to all. Settling the matter of borders would enable us to take important steps towards settling the conflict as a whole.
Egypt also supports any serious effort to resume direct negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks in a way that would allow both countries to regain their occupied territories and consequently reach a comprehensive peace, implement the Arab Peace Initiative and end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Kevin Rudd, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia.
Mr. Rudd (Australia): This great body has been in existence for two thirds of a century — three times longer than its predecessor body, the League of Nations, and longer than previous attempts to fashion a continuing collective approach to the common problems of nation States. The question we must ask ourselves today is whether the United Nations remains effective in confronting the challenges of our time.
On the wider question of security, the Australian Government, under Prime Minister Gillard, warmly welcomes the statement to this Assembly by the President of the United States concerning his efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and sustainable peace in the Middle East (see A/65/PV.11). Australia’s position remains constant: such a settlement must allow both Israel and a future Palestinian State to live side by side in peace and security. Australia calls on all parties to put their shoulders to the wheel, to seize the historic opportunity that now presents itself to bring about a lasting peace. All States members of the General Assembly should welcome the prospect of both an Israeli and a Palestinian State being represented at the sixty-sixth session of the Assembly, to be held next year.