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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
General Assembly
24 September 2013

General Assembly
GA/11423

        Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly
Plenary
5th, 6th & 7th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)



SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES WORLD LEADERS TO SHOULDER WIDE-RANGING RESPONSIBILITIES

AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY'S SIXTY-EIGHTH SESSION BEGINS

President Urges Rejection of ‘Naysayers’ to Make Multilateralism Work Effectively



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Background

The General Assembly this morning opened the general debate of its sixty-eighth session, for which it had before it the Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization (document A/68/1).

Opening Remarks

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, opening the general debate, said the world was in an “era of wondrous opportunity”, as it was the first generation that could wipe out poverty from the face of the Earth. However, pressures on the planet, like youth unemployment, climate change and unresolved conflicts were building, while events on the ground were outpacing institutions and systems designed for another age.

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He welcomed the re-engagement of Israelis and Palestinians in direct negotiations, and the bold diplomacy that made that possible, adding that if all were serious about achieving a two-State solution, then they must recognize that the window was closing fast. Urging the parties to show leadership — and a sense of the long-term interests of their peoples and the region, he said he would convene a meeting of the Quartet principals meeting later this week.

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Statements

DILMA ROUSSEFF, President of Brazil, ...

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She said that a durable peace between Israel and Palestine took on new urgency in view of the changes occurring in the Middle East. The time had come to heed the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians for an independent and sovereign State, and to realize the wide international consensus for the two-State solution. She hoped current negotiations would bring about practical and significant results. ...

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, ...

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He reiterated that the United States would never compromise its commitment to Israel’s security nor support for its existence as a Jewish State. Israeli and Palestinian leaders had recently demonstrated a willingness to take significant political risks, with current talks focused on final status issues of borders and security, refugees and Jerusalem. Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic State depended on the establishment and stability of a Palestinian State. All sides must recognize that peace was a powerful tool to defeat extremists. Moreover, ties of trade and commerce between Israelis and Arabs could be an engine of growth and opportunity at a time when too many young people in the region were languishing without work. “The time is now ripe for the entire international community to get behind the pursuit of peace,” he urged.

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ABDULLAH GÜL, President of Turkey, ...

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On the Palestinian question, he said denial of Palestinians’ right to a State of their own could not be justified, with illegal settlements on Palestinian land undermining the prospects for a two-State solution. Strongly supporting talks initiated by the United States, he said their success depended on Israel’s acceptance of the creation of a viable Palestinian State, as well as a unified Palestinian front. ...

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SEBASTIAN PIÑERA ECHEÑIQUE, President of Chile, ...

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... Chile also hoped to welcome the State of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations. ...

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ROSSEN PLEVNELIEV, President of Bulgaria, ...

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... Also concerning the Middle East, he said he was encouraged by the resumption of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

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ARMANDO EMÍLIO GUEBUZA, President of Mozambique, ...

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Lastly, he supported self-determination for the Palestinian people, the existence of a Palestinian State based on the relevant United Nations resolutions and the two-State solution. ...

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FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, President of France, ...

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There were glimmers of hope in the Middle East, he said, looking to the resumed negotiations between Israel and Palestine. An opportunity for coexistence between two States should be seized finally, ending a conflict that had local, regional and global repercussions. ...

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ABDULLAH II BIN AL HUSSEIN, King of Jordan, ...

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Turning to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which he called “the region’s core crisis”, he said he was encouraged by resumed talks. The resources that the conflict consumed could be better used, and with willing parties, determined United States leadership and strong regional and international backing, success was possible. He urged commitment from Palestinian and Israeli leaders to reach agreement within the set timeframe, and to avoid any actions that could derail the still-fragile process. There should be no settlement construction and no unilateral actions that could affect the status quo in East Jerusalem. A two-State solution could be reached, giving Israel real security, and normalizing relations with 57 Arab and Muslim countries. That would also give the Palestinian people the rights they deserved: a viable and independent Palestinian State, on Palestinian national soil, based on 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.

IVAN GAŠPAROVIČ, President of Slovakia, ...

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... Regarding the Middle East, “ Slovakia welcomes and supports the renewal of talks between Israel and Palestine”, but it seemed, however, that “talks are not enough”. There had been no compliance with a number of binding agreements and resolutions; he expected more from agreed solutions.

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SHEIKH TAMIM BIN HAMAD AL-THANI, Qatar, said that the Israeli occupation continued to inflict injustices upon the Palestinian people by extending the scope of settlement activity; Judaizing the city of Jerusalem; intensifying its unjust embargo of the Gaza strip and intensified settlement activity in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. That could not be accepted as normal, he said, adding that the United Nations was established on the basis of human rights and it was unreasonable that it “could not do anything about the last colonial issue”.

Real peace, he continued, would come only through coexistence, good-neighbourliness and mutual respect. It would come with the formation of two States and the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories. The ongoing de facto policy in Palestine “transforms before our eyes into a more complicated issue” as the continuation of settlements led to a destruction of the basis for establishing a Palestinian State. The situation resembled apartheid.

A Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital within the limits of the 1967 borders, was not only an Arab demand, but it represented an international standard for testing the credibility of international legality. He called on the Security Council, therefore, to uphold its responsibility and adopt the required decisions to stop illegitimate Israeli practices.

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JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, ...

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... it remained mindful that the struggle was not complete for the people of Palestine and Western Sahara. He was deeply concerned about the illegal settlement activities in the West Bank, which were not only a violation of international law, but also jeopardized the realization of a two-State solution. ...

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HEINZ FISCHER, President of Austria, ... Decisive leadership would be needed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he said he had followed for almost 40 years.

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ANDRIS BĒRZIŅŠ, President of Latvia, ...

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On other regional matters, ... He also welcomed the reopening of direct Middle East peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, and anticipated a peaceful settlement with two countries living side by side in peace and security. ...

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HASSAN ROUHANI, President of Iran, ...

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Describing the continuing practices imposed on the innocent people of Palestine as nothing less than structural violence, he said there was also no military solution to the crisis in Syria. ...

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ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, ...

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... In regards to Palestine, he welcomed the renewed negotiations between the parties and supported the vision of a two-State solution.

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