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        General Assembly
4 October 2002

Official Records

General Assembly
Fifty-seventh session
First Committee
6th meeting
Friday, 4 October 2002, 10 a.m.
New York

Chairman: Mr. Kiwanuka .............................................(Uganda)

The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.

Agenda items 57, 58 and 60 to 73 ( continued)

General debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items


Mr. Zarif (Islamic Republic of Iran): ...


On the positive side I congratulate the Government of Cuba on its decision to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). We sincerely hope that this initiative will serve as a further step towards the universality of the Treaty. I should also like to welcome the realization of a new nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia. Nuclear-weapon-free zones are an essential instrument to consolidate nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Yet, impediments towards the establishment of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East have aggravated tension in the region. The States in the region have continually expressed their serious concern over the well-documented Israeli pursuit and acquisition of a wide range of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. It is indeed ironic that a regime that has posed the gravest danger to regional and international peace and security for decades has rejected and violated every single resolution of the Security Council and of the General Assembly, and has flouted all international regimes on weapons of mass destruction, has received not only the acquiescence of, but also material support for its weapons of mass destruction programme from, the very State that has made the levelling of baseless allegations against others a priority of its global policy. Even more ironic is the fact that Israel itself has been an active source of misinformation and propaganda about others. It is thus absolutely essential for the international community actively to pursue the implementation of a 30-year-old decision of the General Assembly on the establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.


The Chairman : That concludes the list of speakers for this morning. I now call on those representatives who wish to speak in exercise of the right of reply.

Mr . Itzchaki (Israel): In order not to diminish the importance of congratulating the Chairman on his assumption of the chairmanship, official congratulations will come later in the debate from the head of my delegation.

I also wish to thank the Syrian and Iranian representatives who, with their baseless allegations and toxic rhetoric, have afforded me the opportunity to set the record straight.

It is not my intention to refer to the delusional fantasy offered by these delegations in their statements. Our positions on arms control and security issues, as well as our support for the eventual establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, will be described at length in our statement during the general debate of the Committee. Suffice it to say that listening to such allegations against my country from countries that are notorious for their repression and totalitarianism, lacking even the most basic respect for human rights and the rule of law, is offensive in the extreme.

We have heard in the course of this debate several references to a so-called double standard. A clear distinction must be made between a democracy, my country, the only democracy in the Middle East, a country that has fought for its existence from the moment of its establishment, and the countries I have just described. For more than five decades, Israel has dealt with threats from neighbouring countries, some of which have long histories of tyranny, repression and totalitarianism, and lack even the most basic respect for human rights and the rule of law. Nothing prevents these regimes from employing the most brutal methods to maintain their power. Some have even used weapons of mass destruction, not only against their neighbours, but also against their own people. In this regard it is worth mentioning that only yesterday, Iran revealed the true objective of its missile programme, which is aimed at no other State than Israel. That is probably its manifestation of a culture of peace.

In his statement, the Syrian representative has revealed his overriding motivation to try to legitimize terrorism by making a distinction that may justify violence against civilians. This comes to us as no surprise in light of the fact that Syria is listed as a State sponsor of terrorism. That is made even more disturbing by the fact that this country is a member of the Security Council and has even served as its President.

There can be no acceptance for those who seek to justify the deliberate taking of innocent civilian lives, regardless of cause or grievances. Terrorism must be condemned without equivocation and without distinction. If we are to be successful in our campaign to rid the world of this scourge, States must undertake to stop all moral or logistical support for acts of terrorism. But that would be an act of moral and legal principle and an outgrowth of basic respect for humanity and the sanctity of human life. That, I do not expect, will be forthcoming from those delegations, and especially not from Syria.


Mr. Atieh (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic ): Allow me to respond briefly to the statement made by the representative of Israel. The representative of Israel has tried, as usual, to divert the attention of the Committee. He made a statement that had nothing to do with the maintenance of international peace and security. He alleged that Syria is waging a malicious campaign, but what Syria said yesterday was simply a statement of facts. Syria, like other Arab and Islamic countries, has called for the establishment of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East region. It has called upon Israel to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and to submit its nuclear facilities to the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

These are not propaganda campaigns. Our call is based on the premise that Syria in particular and Arab countries in general have chosen peace and aspire to peace in the region in order to spare it the scourge of total, unending war. Israel has been killing the peace process since the beginning, from Madrid to the Arab peace initiative that was adopted at the Beirut Summit in March of this year. Israel has killed the peace process with its tanks, its fighter jets and its heavy and light weaponry.

The heinous massacres committed by Israel are a case in point. If the representative of Israel wishes to speak about terrorism, then I would say that Israel is the only country in the region, or in the world, that practises systematic State terrorism against a people strenuously struggling for liberation, independence and self-determination. By this intervention, I wanted to make sure that other delegations do not fall for the distortions that Israel has tried to promote.

Mr. Itzchaki (Israel): I promise that I will not use the entire time granted to me for my second right of reply. I have listened very carefully to the right of reply by the Syrian representative, and I have to say that the audacity of the Syrian representative knows no bounds. Despite its protestations, the true nature of Syria’s record is no secret. Syria has transferred small arms and light weapons and has provided other means of support to Hizbullah terrorists who continue to destabilize the northern part of Israel. Moreover, Syria, as I mentioned earlier, is one of only seven States listed as State sponsors of terrorism, as a consequence of the support and safe haven it provides to terrorist groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, Abu Moussa Fatah al-Intifadah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Hammas, one of the most deadly Palestinian terrorist organizations, which constantly opposes the peace process and has no limits on the means it uses, maintains offices in Damascus and enjoys basing privileges in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley under Syrian control. Syrian contempt for the sanctity of human life does not begin at its borders. The regime has used the most brutal and murderous tactics to suppress dissent and silence political opposition at home.

A country with as shameful a record as Syria has no right to accuse others. I would have hoped that a country so completely at odds with the international campaign against terrorism would have hesitated to speak in this manner. The Syrian representative would be well served to heed the warning that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.


Mr. Atieh (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): I apologize for speaking once again. I reiterate that the representative of Israel was out of order when he raised issues irrelevant to our work. Furthermore, I have to confess that I have not read or heard anywhere of a democratic occupation. Israel is an occupying Power. While it claims to be democratic, Israel destroys and kills Palestinians in the occupied Arab territories; it still occupies the Syrian Golan and has not yet completely withdrawn its forces from Lebanon.

What is truly astonishing is that this State, which claims to be democratic, denies the Palestinians the right to live within an internationally recognized and secure State. Israel should be the last State to talk about democracy.

In his first intervention, the representative of Israel noted that Syria was a member of the Security Council and had become the President of the Security Council. Syria has been known throughout its membership of the United Nations as having committed itself to resolutions of international legitimacy and to implementing United Nations resolutions. The representative of Israel has no right to evaluate Syria’s work at the United Nations. We did not need Israel’s vote to become a member of the Security Council.

Mr. Assaf (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic ): The representative of Israel referred to my country in his second statement. I should thus like to exercise my right of reply. The representative of Israel stated that his State was subjected to threats from its neighbours, as if trying to justify Israel’s violations of the Assembly’s resolutions, adopted on the recommendations of this Committee, that urge Israel to eliminate its nuclear weapons and its other weapons of mass destruction.

I should like once again to refer to the outcome of the Beirut Summit and to the Arab peace initiative. That initiative gives Israel, in exchange for a complete withdrawal from occupied Arab territories, the right to exist. It is not true, as the representative of Israel stated, that the Arabs threaten Israel. It is the occupying Power that poses a threat. In exchange for the right to exist, the Arab States are asking Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. The Arab States have also assured Israel that they would establish normal relations with that country, something not found in Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). It is not true that the Arabs are today threatening Israel. Israel is the occupying Power that is threatening Arab States, or at least neighbouring Arab States.

In the same statement, the representative of Israel described Lebanese resistance as terrorism. The representative of Israel simply labels as terrorists those who resist in order to free their lands. In Israel’s view, Charles de Gaulle, for example, would have been the terrorist par excellence because he fought to free his lands from occupation. There is a major difference between resistance and terrorism, as is affirmed by General Assembly resolutions. The representative of Israel should be the last person to make such accusations.

The meeting rose at noon.

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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