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18th plenary meeting
Monday, 25 September 2006, 10 a.m.
The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda item 8 (continued)
The President: I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Mr. Sisoulith (Lao People’s Democratic Republic): ...
In the Middle East, there is an urgent need to implement Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), which would bring normalcy to the situation in Lebanon and pave the way for a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian problem, in conformity with the relevant United Nations resolutions.
The President: I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia.
Mr. Hor (Cambodia): ...
Concerning the Middle East crisis, we have to congratulate the Security Council on the adoption of its resolution 1701 (2006) to end the recent war in Lebanon. We call upon all parties concerned to fully respect that resolution in order to prevent a repetition of the conflict and further loss of innocent life. In the same vein, the international community should work more actively to help bring about a permanent end to the violence between Palestine and Israel. I believe that peace in the Middle East will be better guaranteed only when the leaders of both sides — Palestine and Israel — have the courage and wisdom to realize that they cannot continue to destroy each other forever, but must work together for a lasting peace in the region.
Both Israel and Palestine have the right to coexist as independent and sovereign States. At the same time, they need to overcome their historical animosity and hatred towards each other. Whether they like it or not, Israel and Palestine are destined to coexist as neighbours forever. I strongly believe that a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would create the foundation for durable peace and security in the entire Middle East.
The President: I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Jean Ping, Minister of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, la Francophonie and Regional Integration of Gabon and former President of the General Assembly.
Mr. Ping (Gabon) (spoke in French): ...
The violent conflict that has once again shaken the Middle East — a conflict that has claimed hundreds of innocent human lives and caused enormous material damage — has shown how essential it is to do everything possible to establish a lasting peace in that part of the world. With specific regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only collective and sustained efforts based on the principle of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security can make it possible to achieve a just, lasting and equitable settlement of that conflict. Gabon, for its part, endorses the idea of urgently holding an international conference on the Middle East.
The President: I now call on Her Excellency Mrs. Joy Uche Ogwu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Mrs. Ogwu (Nigeria): I bring you, Madam President, good tidings from Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who could not be here in person as a result of a national tragedy. He has asked me to deliver his statement to the Assembly and it is now my privilege and honour to read it out.
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Hassan Wirajuda, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia.
Mr. Wirajuda (Indonesia): ...
Peace, development and democracy are inseparable. Development is paralysed and democracy is meaningless in situations of violence and bloody conflict. Nowhere is this more poignantly true than in the Middle East. Over the years, Lebanon has rebuilt its civil-war-ravaged economy, only to be bombed to the ground recently by Israel. Hundreds of innocent civilians were killed in those military strikes, many of them women and children. The carnage stopped with the adoption of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), but this came only after a very lengthy process during which time the Lebanese people underwent so much unnecessary suffering and loss. The frustration and inability to take immediate action is radicalizing many people in the Muslim world.
This serves to prove the importance of reforming the Security Council, in its composition, as well as the way it works, so that it can take effective action when action is a matter of life and death for thousands of people, as was recently the case in Lebanon.
Deeply committed to being a part of the solution to this crisis, Indonesia is sending an 850-strong mechanized infantry battalion to form part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), as mandated by Security Council resolution 1701 (2006). It has become an Indonesian tradition to contribute troops to United Nations peacekeeping forces. The first contingent was deployed as part of the United Nations Emergency Force I in Suez in 1957.
As for the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is essential to recognize that the problem of Palestine lies at its core. There are no military solutions to this problem, as military might can never guarantee security. There can only be a two-State solution, with the parties to the conflict assuming their responsibilities and taking concrete measures to lay down the foundations of peace. In this regard, we encourage the formation of a Palestinian government of national unity, as that will open a window of opportunity for the resumption of dialogue and for the revival of the Quartet’s Road Map for peace.
We appeal to the Security Council to act on this issue with dispatch, for Muslims everywhere have a strong emotional reaction to what they perceive to be the oppression and humiliation of their Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan co-religionists. Terrorists operating as far away from the Middle East as South-East Asia justify their heinous crimes as retaliation for what they consider to be aggression against Islam.
The Acting President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Borys Tarasyuk, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
Mr. Tarasyuk (Ukraine): ...
Ukraine is deeply concerned with the situation in the Middle East. Recent events in Lebanon and the continuing Israeli-Palestinian crisis have shown the need for more decisive international efforts aimed at returning peace and stability to this region. Violence and hatred cannot become the alternatives to the restoration of dialogue and negotiations aimed at achieving a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict on all of its tracks.
Ukraine therefore welcomes the adoption of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) on Lebanon. Support of the resolution by all parties in the region allows for hope that it will be fully implemented. As a longstanding contributor to the United Nations Peacekeeping efforts, including in the Middle East, Ukraine made its concrete proposals on contributing to the enhanced United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
The Acting President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Bedjaoui, Minister of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria.
Mr. Bedjaoui (Algeria) (spoke in French): At a time when the United Nations continues on its path towards universality by welcoming a new Member State — Montenegro, with which Algeria has been involved in multi-faceted cooperation — the very basis of our institution is once again being tested by the grave developments in the situation in the Middle East, with violence directed at our brother peoples of Palestine and Lebanon. Because of their context, their scope and the breadth of their consequences at various levels, those acts of aggression — which cannot merely be seen as passing occurrences — point an accusing finger at the limitations imposed upon the authority of the United Nations when it is faced with conflict situations which run counter to its very raison d’être.
In the vast areas of the developing world, in particular throughout Muslim civilization, a silent frustration is growing and increasing before the powerlessness of the United Nations to support the most elementary human values of the Palestinian and Lebanese people.
The Middle East is without doubt the most unstable region of the world. There we see the great cruelty, flagrant denial of justice and recurrent waves of violence that are reflected in the serious deterioration of the humanitarian and security situation. This makes the prospect of establishing a just and lasting peace in the region a remote one. The Palestinian people are improperly subjected to collective punishment, and Lebanon — whose suffering is exemplified by the relentless Israeli attack against Qana — has been caught up in a murderous war, in which the Lebanese people were able to hold at bay the infernal firepower and destructive capability directed against it.
The Acting President: I now call on Her Excellency Ms. Kinga Göncz, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary.
Ms. Göncz (Hungary): ...
Hungary is fully committed to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. It is essential to revitalize the peace process on the basis of the Road Map and other agreements accepted by the parties concerned. Israel has the right to live in peace and security, and the Palestinians have the right to an independent and viable Palestinian State peacefully coexisting with its neighbours.
Peace and stability in Lebanon are vitally important for the entire Middle East. The international community, along with the parties concerned, must make every effort to ensure the swift and full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).
The Acting President: I now give the floor to His Excellency The Honourable Michael Frendo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Malta.
Mr. Frendo (Malta): ...
The recent conflict in Lebanon was a tragic reminder of how easily a population can slide quickly back into a conflict situation. Today, the clouds have lifted a little so that new rays of hope can break through. We wish that country well. We believe that it could serve as a unique laboratory for democratic and cultural pluralism within a peaceful society in the Middle East.
In the same region, a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains elusive. Fatalism is not an option. The international community, through the United Nations and other mechanisms such as the Quartet, must maintain its concerted and determined efforts to find a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to this long-festering conflict, which has a bearing on all other issues in the Middle East and, indeed, in the wider global context. We welcome the intense and frank debate that took place last week in the Security Council on this issue (see S/PV.5530).
The President returned to the Chair.
Malta respects and supports the aspirations of the Palestinian people to nationhood and dignity, and in equal measure respects and supports the aspirations of the Israeli people to live in peace within secure borders. Those two aspirations are mutually compatible and achievable through peaceful and just means. A solution can be achieved only through strict and abiding respect for the rules and norms of international law, including humanitarian law.
On the ground, the continuing and increasingly deteriorating humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people is an intolerable burden on the international conscience. We must acknowledge and applaud the sterling work being carried out by the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Ms. Karen AbuZayd, and all of the Agency’s dedicated staff to assist the refugee population in no fewer than 58 refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, where one third of Palestinian refugees live.
The meeting rose at 1.25 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.