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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to have been overshadowed by the upheavals in the region. I have followed events there for almost 40 years. I am convinced that what is needed for a solution is the willingness not only to negotiate in good faith but also to take into account the needs and sensibilities of the negotiating partner: the other side. I, for one, cannot believe that the value of the new settlements to Israel outweighs the damage they cause by being an obstacle to peace and reasonable conditions.
We welcome that the new United States Administration has devoted its full attention to that long-standing question and that direct negotiations resumed at the end of July. What we need now is decisive leadership. We are convinced that a breakthrough in the central conflict would also mean a decisive step towards stabilization of the entire region.
The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
Nowhere in the world has violence been so deadly and destructive as in North Africa and West Asia. Military intervention in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein’s imposed war against Iran, the occupation of Kuwait, military interventions against Iraq, the brutal repression of the Palestinian people, the assassination of ordinary people and political figures in Iran and terrorist bombings in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon are examples of the acts of violence committed in that region in the past three decades.
What has been and continues to be practiced against the innocent people of Palestine is nothing less than structural violence. Palestine is under occupation; the basic rights of the Palestinians are being tragically violated, and they are deprived of the right of return and access to their homes, birthplace and homeland. Apartheid as a concept can hardly describe the crimes and the institutionalized aggression committed against the innocent Palestinian people.
The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency General Michel Sleiman, President of the Lebanese Republic, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
However, the main challenge that we face remains the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israeli settlement policy practices, not to overlook the difficulties created by it in terms of refugee flows. The settlement policy has fostered a sense of frustration and a tendency towards extremism. Lebanon has been affected by the daily Israeli attacks against Lebanon and its infrastructure through the use of all sorts of prohibited weapons. Lebanon has paid a high price for those acts of aggression, with all that implies in terms of the burden on human lives and destruction. It therefore falls upon the international community to work to find a fair and comprehensive solution to the conflict in the Middle East, particularly with respect to the Palestinian cause, pursuant to the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference and the Arab Peace Initiative. Stability, democracy and moderation will not prevail in the Middle East unless justice is done in Palestine, based on the belief that the security of the Arab region and the preservation of its cultural diversity are of strategic importance.
Lebanon calls for the adoption of an integrated comprehensive approach that includes the participation of all States concerned and addresses all aspects of the Israeli-Arab conflict. At the same time, no solution should be taken at the expense of its superior interests. As a result, Lebanon will reject any compromise attempting to force an influx of Palestinian refugees on its territory.
The meeting rose at 6.25 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 U-506. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.