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The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
Agenda items 8 and 9 (continued)
Review of the achievements in the implementation and results of the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and Plan of Action for Implementing the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1990s
Renewal of commitment and future action for children in the next decade
Draft resolution (A/S-27/L.1)
The President : The Assembly will now hear a statement by Her Excellency Mrs. Hawa Ahmed Youssouf, Minister in Charge of Advancement of Women, Family Welfare and Social Affairs of Djibouti.
Mrs. Youssouf (Djibouti) ( spoke in French ): ...
In that regard, we must not forget that for children who have never known peace the effects are both psychological and physical and constitute a permanent handicap. I am thinking of the millions of children in Somalia, Angola and Sierra Leone, and especially of the two generations of Palestinian children living under the yoke of 40 years of brutal Israeli occupation, whose futures and hopes are reduced to nothing from one day to the next, to say nothing of the psychological trauma they experience every day. Those children aspire to only one thing: to live like other children in peace and dignity with their parents and to enjoy their most fundamental rights.
The Acting President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Meir Sheetrit, Minister of Justice of Israel.
Mr. Sheetrit (Israel): ...
Israel today finds itself facing a particularly difficult situation. Palestinian terrorist organizations are making increasing use of children and minors to carry out suicide attacks. Over the past nine months, there have been more than 13 Palestinian children under the age of 18 involved in carrying out suicide attacks. This cruel and cynical exploitation of children by terrorist organizations is a blatant violation of basic norms and principles of international law and of children’s rights. It even stands in contradiction of Islamic law. I ask members of the Assembly to think about what passes through the heads of parents and of the people who send children of that age to commit suicide. How can one live with such a burden on his own soul? Allow me to present a number of striking examples.
Jamil Hamid, a 16-year-old recruited by Fatah, Chairman Arafat’s own faction, blew himself up on 31 March 2002 near a medical clinic, injuring six Israeli citizens. There is also the case of Yusef Zaqout, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who was killed along with two friends — each of them 15 years old — when they tried to attack an Israeli community with knives and explosives. Another example is that of Anwar Hamad, a 17-year-old youth, who was sent to carry out a suicide attack against a convoy of vehicles.
Protecting the rights of such children, as enshrined in the basic norms and principles of international law, is a universal interest of humanity as a whole, and everything possible must be done to prevent terrorists from turning children into cannon fodder.
The death of any child — Palestinian or Israeli — is a terrible tragedy and a curse. Dozens of Israeli children have been killed, and many more have been wounded, since the Palestinians initiated their campaign of violence and terrorism in September 2000. The children of Israel have been the victims of brutal terrorist attacks and of countless suicide bombers, who have maimed them on school buses, in shopping centres, in restaurants, in marketplaces and even in their homes. I ask: what would any Member State do if it were under attack for 17 months, with an average of 21 terrorist attacks per day? I do not believe that any other Member State would restrain itself as Israel has. But we have the inherent right to protect our people — to protect our children. It is an inherent right given to Israel by United Nations resolutions, and it is an inherent right of every State in the world.
I want to assure members that we still extend our hands in a quest for peace, and we have proved that in many ways. I was astonished when I saw the Palestinian delegation’s suggestion to try to change the document on which we have worked so hard so that it can be adopted tomorrow. Why are they doing that? Let me tell the Assembly. No automatic majority will make them right, because the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Group know in their hearts who is to blame for the situation: just one man, the leader of the Palestinian people, who rejected the offer that had been given to him in September 2000 by President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak to establish a Palestinian State on 98 per cent of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including three quarters of East Jerusalem. When he was on the verge of having it all, he rejected it, went back to our area and started the wave of terror that brought disaster to his own people.
Arafat is not fighting for his people; he is betraying them and betraying his own children. I feel so sorry for every Palestinian, every Palestinian child who have been hurt. Seeing them hurt is as painful to me as seeing all the Israeli children who have been hurt, because I know that they are very talented and could have had a different future. Why are such young boys committing suicide? How could such things happen in the twenty-first century without strong and constant incitement by the Palestinian Authority, carried out daily on television and in textbooks? Show me a Middle East map on which Israel appears in any textbook of the Palestinian Authority, and I will give you a prize. Why does no one speak about that? But we are still looking for peace.
I should like to conclude by expressing my sincere hope that we will learn from the lessons of the past so that the world becomes a place fit for children. Children are our most precious natural resource, and we must do everything in our power to enable them to grow and live in peace, free from violence and fear, so that they can fulfil their potential and realize their dreams.
The meeting rose at 8.30 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-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.