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President: The Hon. Julian R. Hunte..............................................(Saint Lucia)
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
Participation of Palestine in the work of the
The President: Before turning to the items on our agenda for today, I should like to draw the attention of delegates to a matter concerning the participation of Palestine in its capacity as observer at this session and in the work of the General Assembly.
In accordance with General Assembly resolutions 3237 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, 43/177 of 15 December 1988 and 52/250 of 7 July 1998, and with the note by the Secretary-General contained in document A/52/1002, Palestine, in its capacity as observer, will participate in the work of the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly with no further need for a precursory explanation prior to any statement.
Mr. Hoscheit (Luxembourg), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The Acting President (spoke in French): On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Natsagiin Bagabandi, President of Mongolia, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Bagabandi (spoke in Mongolian; English text provided by the delegation): ...
Mongolia fully supports the efforts being undertaken by the international community to revive the Middle East peace process and to implement the road map, and supports the establishment of a just and durable peace in the region, on the basis of ensuring the legitimate interests of the parties concerned.
Agenda item 9 (continued)
The Acting President (spoke in French): I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Farouk Al-Shara’, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Mr. Al-Shara’ (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): ...
The scourge of the Israeli occupation and continued Israeli aggression has been the main reason for the suffering of our region since the concept of international legitimacy first emerge in the international community. That is the concept on which the Organization was founded and which it came to epitomize. There is a profound paradox that has become the hallmark of our region. Israel was the first State to acquire its legitimacy through a resolution adopted by the United Nations, yet Israel was also the first State to ride roughshod over international legitimacy — and it has continued to do so to the extent that Arabs and many others around the world feel as if Israel were a country above the law, one that enjoys the same veto power in the Security Council as the United States.
It is regrettable that, after decades of occupation, bloodshed and contempt for international legitimacy, the representative of Israel has yet to realize that the road to peace lies in Israel’s implementation of the 37 Security Council resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the nearly 600 General Assembly resolutions on the same subject, all of which have so far remained hostage to Israeli defiance of international law.
It behoved the Israeli Foreign Minister to explain in his statement to the international community in this Hall a few days ago the reasons for his country’s refusal to implement this enormous number of resolutions of international legitimacy on the Middle East, instead of ignoring them, considering them null and void, items of the past. Are the Syrians, the Lebanese and the Palestinians unrealistic in their demands, or are they asking for the impossible when they stress that the only way out of the spiral of violence and bloodshed is through ending the Israeli occupation of the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, through negotiations to pursue a comprehensive, just and lasting peace on the basis of implementing United Nations resolutions and the Arab Summit peace initiative adopted at Beirut in 2002?
The nagging core question here is how much longer Israel continue can to mislead some into believing that it is being victimized while it continues to occupy the territory of others by force, lay siege to Palestinians, destroy their homes, uproot their trees and assassinate them in their occupied land. When did the victims of occupation, settler colonialism and population transfer become outlaws and terrorists without a just cause, whose killing by fighter jets and tank fire became sanctioned under the pretext of self-defence?
Some people in Washington have asked “Why do they hate us?” Some authors with ulterior motives, or self-proclaimed pundits writing for reputable American newspapers or appearing on famous television programmes, volunteer their answers: “They hate us because we have skyscrapers and noble values.” They choose to ignore that what is hated are the flawed policies, and not the country and its beautiful landmarks and cherished cultural and humanitarian values.
The grave situation in Iraq has become a source of serious concern for our people, who are already plagued by Israeli occupation and continued threats against them. The situation is also a major cause of concern for the international community due to the threat it poses to international peace and security. The credibility of our Organization suffered greatly when the United Nations was unable to prevent the war against Iraq, a war waged outside the context of international legitimacy.
Much has been said lately about the dangers of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction — paid by countries that already have different types of such weapons. Some have even waged a war under the pretext of eliminating such weapons. As is already known, this danger is not confined to a particular region in the world, but can be found in many other regions. What is truly regrettable, however, is that some international quarters selectively choose to level false accusations against certain Arab and Islamic States, but not against others, while ignoring the Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Also ignored have been the repeated appeals by all the countries of the region, with the exception of Israel, to make the Middle East a region free of all weapons of mass destruction.
Syria this year translated its words into action by submitting an integrated draft resolution to the Security Council, calling for declaring the Middle East a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. It is not surprising, however, that those who led the media campaign against Syria stood in the way of adoption of the Syrian initiative.
Syria is aware that its membership in the Security Council is temporary. However, we appeal to the international community to continue to support the Syrian initiative calling for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East region.
Syria has condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We have supported the Security Council’s efforts to counter international terrorism throughout the time of our membership of the Council. Syria has also acceded to the relevant international conventions to combat terrorism, including the Arab Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism and the Convention of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on Combating International Terrorism. Both instruments define the crime of terrorism and distinguish between terrorism and the legitimate right of people under foreign occupation to resist occupation, in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.
Syria, which is not pursuing any political agenda, believes that the international community’s success in its overall battle against terrorism depends, to a large extent, on its success in addressing the root causes of terrorism, which are often found in poverty, ignorance and injustice. First and foremost, eliminating injustice requires an end to foreign occupation.
The President returned to the Chair.
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Cyril Svoboda, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
Mr. Svoboda (Czech Republic): ...
We believe that progress in the Middle East peace process based on the road map must be at the centre of the efforts of the whole international community. We should not allow extremist and terrorist groups to dominate its agenda, as recent developments have shown. At the same time, we call upon all parties involved to exercise maximum restraint in taking actions that may contradict the achievement of a peaceful political settlement of the crisis, especially extrajudicial killings and suicide bombings.
The Czech Republic supports activities aimed at reviving and continuing the implementation of the peace plan. In their talks, the Quartet and the parties concerned must take stock of the peace plan and identify obstacles on the road to peace, as well as outstanding tasks before the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Without proper implementation, the road map will suffer the same fate as those of the numerous peace initiatives we have seen in the past.
The problems of the Middle East are very complex. My country would like to emphasize three basic issues in this fragile phase that we consider crucial for the implementation and success of the road map for peace, namely, the security aspects of a peace settlement, the consistent suppression of all manifestations of terrorism and the consolidation and strengthening of the position of the Palestinian Government and its process of reform, including concrete steps to confront terror and violence.
In our view, tangible changes in the situation on the ground should be an inseparable part of those efforts. At the same time, with their vision of their own independent State, Palestinians should feel that their economic and humanitarian situation is improving. The Czech Republic is prepared to assume its share of responsibility in the efforts to improve the economic situation of Palestinian autonomous territories at both the bilateral and multilateral levels.
The President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Maher El Sayed, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Mr. Maher El Sayed (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic): ...
Our world today is facing numerous challenges regionally and internationally. There are challenges to the logic of fairness, justice and peace and challenges related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the slow pace of international action in the field of nuclear disarmament. We are witnessing tendencies to consecrate the right to possess, develop, and modernize nuclear weapons. Some States still cling to the obsolete doctrines of deterrence and attempt to find justifications for the use of nuclear weapons. Therefore, it has become necessary to widen the establishment of zones that are free of weapons of mass destruction. In this regard, I recall Egypt’s repeated assertions, in all international forums, that rendering the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, in a comprehensive framework that applies to all without exception or discrimination, is the only way to spare the region and the world the dangers that threaten all our achievements and all that we strive to achieve. It is unacceptable that Israel’s possession of such weapons should remain a reality that some prefer to ignore or should prevent the international community in Vienna, New York or elsewhere from facing it fairly and squarely.
The Middle East region continues to suffer from the absence of peace. There were high hopes that the historical reconciliation between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples was within reach after the Oslo accords, the parties’ mutual recognition and the subsequent agreements and negotiations. Yet the efforts failed every time, seemingly because the Israeli party does not yet fully share the conviction of all, expressed by President George Bush and the Quartet, that the solution lies in the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, within the 1967 borders, that would live side by side with Israel in peace and security.
The Palestinian people continue to be subjected to oppression, provocation, and aggression. They continue to languish under the oppression of a cruel and unfair occupation that generates feelings of despair and frustration and leads to a spiral of violence and counter-violence whose victims are innocent civilians.
It is high time for the international community to reiterate its call to the parties to return to the negotiating table in order to implement the principles of international legality and to achieve a just peace in the entire Middle Eastern region on the basis of a complete withdrawal to the 1967 borders and of respect for rights. Egypt has continually made efforts to achieve that objective in Palestine, the Govan and in the occupied Lebanese territories, confident that the logic of peace will prevail over the logic of aggression and that the resolve of the people who yearn for a peace that achieves security and opens the door for development will prevail over those who continue to harbour ambitions of expansion and aggression and thus put the interests of their peoples in danger. They will bear a heavy responsibility for that.
The President: I now give the floor to His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Prince Al-Faisal (Saudi Arabia) (spoke in Arabic): ...
The Palestinian issue, which has become a constant item on the agenda of all the sessions of the General Assembly over the past five decades, continues to be a cause of instability and turmoil in the Middle East region, whose nations yearn for peace, prosperity and development. I don’t think I need to go into the details of this issue, of which you are completely aware, but we should remember Israel’s persistence in its provocative policies and practices, which focus on repression, persecution, political assassinations, settlers’ issues and the ominous fence. This is an approach that has subverted all initiatives and proposals aimed at solving the Palestinian issue, including the Arab peace initiative and the road map.
The solutions that were presented on the Palestinian issue were harmed mostly by the Security Council’s contradictions, especially among its permanent members, in dealing with resolutions in this regard. We see resolutions being adopted but remaining mere ink on paper, and when the time comes for their resolutions on implementation, the veto power is invoked to abort implementation.
The only way out of this vicious circle, from our perspective, is for the permanent members to pledge not to use the veto power when dealing with resolutions or measures aimed at implementing the substance of resolutions previously adopted. This matter may be one of the issues that the reform team proposed by the Secretary-General should consider in order to invigorate the role of the United Nations in handling current issues and challenges.
The manifestations of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are a cause of great concern and tension in the Middle East. This means that we must declare the Middle East and the Arab Gulf region a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.
With regard to the need to increase the effectiveness and universality of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its system of safeguards, monitoring and inspection, we also believe that certain standards and controls must be put in place to assure progress in all fields of the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. Based on this, we call upon all countries that have yet to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to take the necessary steps to do so, especially Israel, and to submit their nuclear sites and installations to the international safeguards regime.
The international situation looks again as it used to be during the time of polarisation, including increasing tensions, crises and divisions that have paralyzed the Security Council. Despite the fact that we have entered the third millennium, we still lack the needed commitment and collective political will to translate our commitments into reality. International peace and security are still but a hope and an aspiration for many people and countries. Comprehensive development is still a dream for many and a distant objective we all hope to achieve.
In the Middle East, where countries suffer from these symptoms, we see in the ideas presented by President Bush, for the promotion of development in the Middle East many positive signs, which collectively present a model for fruitful cooperation between rich nations and developing countries.
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Fathulla Jameel, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives.
Mr. Jameel (Maldives): ...
Following the glimmer of hope for the revival of the Middle East peace process, we are again witnessing an unprecedented deterioration of the situation in Palestine and the Middle East. We strongly condemn the Israeli move to deport President Yasser Arafat from the Palestinian territories, as well as the continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. We have consistently supported the just struggle of the Palestinian people to regain their inalienable rights and to establish an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds as its capital. We call upon the members of the Quartet, particularly the United States, to ensure the implementation of the road map for peace. While we sincerely believe that the United Nations has an important role to play in the peace process, we are also convinced that the United States needs to remain actively engaged, as it currently is, in a spirit of sincerity, in the search for a just, permanent and lasting peace in the region.
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Ould Tolba, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
Mr. Ould Tolba (Mauritania) (spoke in Arabic): ...
There can be no doubt that maintenance of peace and security around the world requires a greater role for the United Nations and the strengthening of international law. My country therefore notes with satisfaction the acceptance by the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government of the road map as submitted by the Quartet. This framework offers a fresh opportunity to establish a just and lasting peace in the interest of all peoples of the region, ensuring the restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to establish an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital, pursuant to the decisions of the Madrid Conference, the principles of land for peace and Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978).
My country stresses the importance it attaches to the demand that Israel withdraw from the occupied Arab territories and that negotiations be resumed immediately, as the only way towards peace and security in the Middle East.
The President: I now call on His ExcellencyMr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Chairman of the Observer Delegation of Palestine.
Mr. Kaddoumi (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic): It is my pleasure to congratulate you, Sir, on your election as President of the General Assembly at its fifty-eighth session. We trust that you will guide the deliberations of this session with great efficiency, skill and wisdom. I also pay tribute to your predecessor, Mr. Jan Kavan, President of the General Assembly at its fifty-seventh session, for having successfully led the deliberations of that session.
In addition, we should like to express our appreciation for the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, and for his commitment to the Charter of the United Nations with a view to enhancing international peace and security.
After the 1980s, Israel began unilaterally to delineate borders through the Seven Star Settlement Plan, initiated by Mr. Sharon when he was Housing Minister. The plan involves building Israeli settlements along the Green Line — the line of the old armistice — in order to obliterate the Line, which separates the territories occupied in 1967. Israel has used agreements as an opportunity to build more settlements, which now total 187 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The holy city, Jerusalem, has been subjected to an extensive Judaization campaign with a view to implementing the Greater Jerusalem plan to increase the number of settlers within Palestinian areas. Under that plan, land has been confiscated and a wall isolating Jerusalem from neighbouring areas is being built. Israeli settlers have occupied Palestinian homes in many Palestinian neighbourhoods. In Jerusalem, Israel has confiscated 70 kilometres of land in order to build bypass roads in the West Bank under the pretext of redeployment. Therefore, Israel has taken the first steps in implementing a plan aimed at establishing cantons, which, Mr. Sharon had planned long ago to isolate Palestinian cities and villages by building settlements and bypass roads to prevent any geographic contiguity among population centres in Palestinian areas.
The building of the wall is part of the Israeli policy of imposing a fait accompli, of exploiting security conditions to attain certain objectives by creating bantustans and enclaves and by isolating Palestinian villages from their surroundings, including separating such villages from Jerusalem. Thus the separation wall has isolated the cities of Eizariya and Abu Dis on all sides. All entry and exit into and out of these two cities is through Israeli military checkpoints. We condemn you, Israel, for such actions.
An article in the 10 August 2003 edition of Haaretz reads:
Before the road map was announced, the Palestinian Authority had been called upon to undertake certain reforms, such as drafting a constitution, creating the post of premier and transferring certain powers from the President of the Palestinian State and the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority to the Prime Minister. Chairman Arafat made many concessions to assist the Palestinian Government in carrying out its duties. The Government of Israel made several attempts, under various pretexts, to delay the declaration of the road map: first, it was holding the Israeli elections at the beginning of the year; then it was establishing the Cabinet; then it was waiting for the Iraq war. Finally, when Israel hesitantly accepted the road map, it rejected 14 of its provisions.
At the Sharm al-Shaikh Summit and at the Aqaba Summit of 6 June, the representative of the Palestinian Authority — who at that time was Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas — committed himself to implementing the road map, pledging to meet its requirements before President Bush of the United States, King Abdullah of Jordan, the King of Bahrain, and President Mubarak of Egypt. He announced the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to a ceasefire and its readiness to recognize Israel within secure borders. However, in his statement Mr. Sharon refused to mention Israel’s commitment under the road map to the vision of two States — the establishment of an independent Palestinian State that is viable and sovereign, living side by side with Israel in peace and security, as expressed by President Bush. Mr. Sharon did not accept the immediate cessation of all acts of violence against the Palestinians. All that Mr. Sharon said were a few words regarding a Palestinian State without any mention of an independent, viable and sovereign State of Palestine. Nor did he declare an immediate cessation of Israel’s acts of violence.
Despite that, the Palestinian Authority, together with all other resistance factions, declared a ceasefire on 26 June. That ceasefire was to remain in place for three months. Regrettably, Israel continued its terrorist practices, and the Israeli army of occupation assassinated 86 Palestinians. To sabotage the declared ceasefire, Israel assassinated the political leaders of the resistance factions. The situation then slipped into tension and confrontation, one month after the ceasefire had been announced.
International reports state that the majority of Palestinians in the occupied territories now depend to some extent on food rations. In May of this year, the World Bank reported that the volume of international contributions to the Palestinian territories had grown: since the beginning of the Palestinian intifada, external contributions accounted for more than $1 billion of the budget of the Palestinian Authority. They have therefore provided sustenance to more than half a million people — the families of the employees of the Palestinian Authority. Those contributions staved off an enormous, acute humanitarian crisis. Donors who hoped for reconciliation had no choice but to make contributions because the Palestinian Authority’s network of services collapsed and the living conditions of Palestinian citizens deteriorated. It is not strange, then, that the Palestinians persevere through international assistance.
However, this generosity on the part of the international community ultimately profited the Israeli enemy. International support provided a protective network through which Israel was able to afford an expensive occupation of the West Bank. Israel controls the areas militarily for free, without assuming any responsibility for the lives of the citizens there.
Fighting terrorism is an arduous task. However, we do not see anyone keenly seeking the root causes of or motivations for terrorism, nor even concerned about the international isolation that Israel is suffering because of its practice of State terrorism. It is as if the stifling Israeli economic crisis were a predestined, divinely ordained phenomenon. In the search for the culprits, Arabs and the resistance are held to be the cause of the crisis.
There was a real chance for the United States to embrace all the peoples of the world, not only through the compassion of those peoples for the people of the United States but also through the unified effort to fight terrorism. The United Nations should have seized that opportunity through a programme objectively and reasonably implemented, not by using cannons or fighter jets or by mobilizing huge forces to destroy a hated regime. The real reason for that was well known political and economic ambitions. The world was outraged at the military action, but it stood idly by, observing the consequences of the misuse of force.
The United States Administration expressed its keen interest in implementing the road map and establishing an independent Palestinian State. Regrettably, it did not, as a sponsor of peace, address the crisis with the required effort and effectiveness. It is not enough to stress the vision of President Bush or the commitment of his Administration to such a vision, while continuing to employ a policy of double standards. That Administration continues to blame and warn the Palestinian Authority. It continues to urge the Authority to combat the resistance, which they can see only as terrorism against the Israeli occupation, despite the fact that all international norms stress the right of occupied and colonized people to self-determination by whatever means. The United States Administration overlooks the Israeli leader’s terroristic practices and Israel’s failure to implement its commitments in accordance with the road map.
The shortcomings of the United States role reflect negatively on the peace process. They obstruct the process and make success very difficult, such as by refusing to deal with President Arafat, the legitimate, elected President of the Palestinians. Mr. Arafat is the only leader who has shown conviction and flexibility with respect to the peace process. As a result of that, Mr. Arafat shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mr. Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by dirty hands in Israel in order to prevent the continuation of the peace process, spreading anxiety and doubts among Palestinian and Israeli citizens alike.
The Arab side accepted the initiative of His Highness Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz for the establishment of comprehensive peace with Israel after its total withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories. The Crown Prince carried that initiative to Washington, D.C., in his historic meeting with President Bush in April 2002. The initiative was based on the agreed terms of reference for the road map, along with the resolutions of international legitimacy, the Madrid terms of reference and the principle of land for peace.
In conclusion, peace in itself is not an objective for Israel. That will be true as long as Israel continues to receive all forms of assistance from major Powers trying to maintain their strategic interests in the Middle East region, and opts to settle issues militarily, outside the framework of the United Nations and the resolutions of the Security Council.
Israel has laid siege to the Palestinian people. It has paralysed the apparatus of the Palestinian Authority, preventing it from operating. The Israeli army assumed responsibility for security. But how did it do that? By killing, assassination and destruction. What is required first is the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from the occupied territories to the borders of 28 September 2002.
The Security Council should adopt the road map and work to implement it through the Quartet. The siege against the Palestinian people and their elected President Yasser Arafat must be lifted. The United States must cooperate positively and effectively to facilitate the task of the Quartet and to warn Israel of the consequences of obstructing its tasks. Deploying international forces into a buffer zone created between the two sides will facilitate implementation of the road map and the Palestinian Authority’s task of maintaining security in the area from which the Israeli forces will withdraw. Those forces will receive complete cooperation from the citizens of Palestine.
The meeting rose at 1.30 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-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.