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The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m.
Agenda item 9 (continued)
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish ): I now give the floor to Mr. George Papandreou, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece.
Mr. Papandreou (Greece):
If we do share a common moral order, a common understanding of what is right and wrong, then the Middle East peace process had come close to articulating the principles we share. For the good of the people in the region and its stability, that process must continue until a Palestinian State lives peacefully next to a secure Israel. That peace process must begin anew, without preconditions, based on secure initial steps through the implementation of the Mitchell report recommendations. Greece, as both a member of the European Union and a neighbour to the Middle East, will commit its efforts in this crucial situation towards the support of peace, rapprochement and reconciliation.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
Mr. Kavan (Czech Republic):
The greatest tensions today undoubtedly prevail in the Middle East. It is regrettable that much of the progress achieved in the past few years seems to have been squandered. But the uphill struggle that faces us there is no reason for doing nothing and letting things get worse and would only mean that more people will suffer and die. The Czech Republic is a traditional and active supporter of the peace process in the Middle East. We cannot reconcile ourselves with the current setbacks. The political violence must be halted. Diplomatic initiatives aimed at bringing the parties back to the negotiating table must be fully supported. The Czech Republic fully supports the right of the Palestinians to their own viable and independent State. Nevertheless, its final shape should be the result of bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations with the full backing of the international community.
I now take deep pleasure in calling on His Excellency Mr. Baboucarr-Blaise Ismaila Jagne, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Gambia.
Mr. Jagne (Gambia):
Outside Africa we also continue to express concern about a number of conflict situations. Seemingly, the most intractable of the lot is the situation in the Middle East, and, notably, the Palestinian problem. There can be no lasting peace in the Middle East without resolving the Palestinian question. We in the Gambia have always held the view that, while recognizing the right of Israel to exist within secure borders, we also believe that the relevant United Nations resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict should be implemented, culminating in the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic ): I now call upon His Excellency Mr. Hasmy Agam, Chairman of the delegation of Malaysia.
Mr. Agam (Malaysia):
The situation in Palestine and the Middle East continues to be a matter of serious concern to the international community. The issue must be urgently addressed, not only for its own sake but also to prevent it from being exploited by certain groups of people for their own ends. It is imperative, if enduring peace is to be achieved in the Middle East, for the peace process to be revived on an urgent basis. We believe that the Mitchell report offers a good basis for bringing the situation back to the negotiating table. We commend the Palestinian Authority for unambiguously accepting the report. However, we regret that the Israeli side, while indicating general “acceptance”, rejected major parts of the report, including the call for the complete cessation of settlement activity, one of the main causes of the current cycle of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The continued military offensive against the Palestinians raises questions about the sincerity of the Israeli leadership to work for peace. The Israeli authorities have tried to cow the Palestinian people by an overwhelming use of force, using an assortment of its formidable arsenals. That excessive use of force has resulted in more than 800 Palestinians being killed and more than 20,000 being wounded. Regrettably, the calls of the international community have fallen on deaf ears as the Israeli forces continue their offensive against the Palestinians on the pretext of ending the campaign against terrorism. The aggressive actions by the occupying Power must cease if peace is to be given a chance to grow.
There is no military solution to the problem. Indeed, the provocative measures taken by Israel will only aggravate the situation. We therefore strongly urge the Israeli Government to desist from pursuing a military solution. A just, comprehensive and lasting solution is possible only through a negotiated political settlement — a process that the international community and this body must actively pursue. This must include the complete withdrawal of Israel from all Arab and Palestinian land occupied since 1967, including the city of Al-Quds al-Sharif and the occupied Syrian Golan. We also reaffirm our support for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine, with Al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital. Only the implementation of all international resolutions on the Palestinian issue can guarantee lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. We once again call on Israel to comply with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and all other relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Equally, we look forward to the return of the Syrian Golan without further delay. We hope to see a future environment that will bring development and opportunities in a peaceful and stable Middle East.
Racism constitutes one of the most heinous forms of human rights violations, not only in itself, but as it also gives rise to other egregious forms of systematic human rights violations such as colonialism, slavery and genocide. These have in turn resulted in poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization and social exclusion for far too many. We are therefore heartened that the outcome of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban recently, contained elements that will further our efforts to eradicate racism, the most prominent of which is the recognition by the international community that slavery and the slave trade are crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, we view the outcome documents as inadequate as they do not sufficiently address the plight of the Palestinian people, who are victims of policies based on discrimination and exclusion.
The Acting President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Serbini Ali, Chairman of the delegation of Brunei Darussalam.
Mr. Serbini (Brunei Darussalam):
The existence of terrorism is, however, a grim reminder that the United Nations agenda, set over the last half of the twentieth century, has yet to be completed. There are many unwelcome legacies from the past 50 years. Though none justify acts of terror, many offer justification for deep resentment and profound despair. Perhaps the most apparent of all at this time is the situation in Palestine, where the justice implicit in the Security Council’s resolutions on Palestine is still denied to what is now a third generation of Palestinians. In this respect, we welcome the recognition given by many world leaders, including the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to the principle of a Palestinian State. Brunei Darussalam hopes that all concerned and interested parties involved in the Middle East peace process will act with urgency in order to bring this about.
The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Nguyen Thanh Chau, Chairman of the delegation of Viet Nam.
Mr. Nguyen Thanh Chau (Viet Nam):
Development requires an environment of peace and stability. But complex implications arising from the conflicts in some parts of the world and the possible intensification of an arms race, are not conducive to development at all. Of particular concern is the escalation of violence in the Middle East. We join the community of world peoples calling for an early end to violence, the resumption of peaceful negotiations for a just, long-lasting solution in which the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the legitimate rights of all parties concerned, would be guaranteed.
The meeting rose at 7.25 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-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.