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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/55/PV.15
14 September 2000

Official Records

General Assembly
Fifty-fifth session
15th plenary session
Thursday, 14 September 2000, 3 p.m.
New York

President: Mr. Holkeri ......................................(Finland)


The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.

Agenda item 9 (continued)

General debate

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Mr. Madani (Saudi Arabia) (spoke in Arabic): ...

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Deviation from the values and principles of justice, equality and non-compliance with the rules of international legitimacy in resolving differences and disputes through peaceful means has led to the proliferation of wars and armed conflicts in many parts of the world. This has caused painful humanitarian suffering that continues to arouse the conscience of the world community. In our region, Israel continues to take intransigent positions and to reject the requirements for peace. This became evident during the recent talks at Camp David where the Israeli side insisted on maintaining positions that are diametrically opposed to the principles of peace that were agreed to in Madrid and to what was stated in United Nations resolutions with respect to the status of Al-Quds Al-Sharif. Both the final communiqué of the Al-Quds Committee, which convened recently in Agadir, Morocco, and the resolution of the Council of the Arab League, adopted at its 114th session, reaffirmed the unshakeable Arab and Islamic positions with respect to the issue of Al-Quds Al-Sharif. It also reaffirmed the impossibility of attaining a durable and comprehensive peace without reaching a just solution to this problem in a way that preserves Arab and Muslim rights, in accordance with United Nations resolutions, and that respects complete Palestinian sovereignty over Al-Quds Al-Sharif.

Israel is making a big mistake if it believes that the peace process can proceed without total respect for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians to return to their homeland and establish their own independent State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. Al-Quds Al-Sharif is an integral part of the occupied territories and is subject to Security Council resolution 242 (1967). Moreover, a comprehensive peace cannot be achieved without Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan to the 4 June 1967 line.

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The issue of disarmament is of great concern to my country, and we call for greater efforts in this area, especially as regards weapons of mass destruction. The presence of these weapons represents a great danger to international peace and security. We hope that the nuclear States will fulfil the pledges they made at the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and adhere to the commitment to eradicate their nuclear arsenals.

In this context, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very concerned about Israel’s refusal to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and about its decision to keep its nuclear programme outside the scope of international controls. Israel’s refusal to adhere to the international will and to become part of this Treaty has aborted all efforts exerted by the peoples and countries of the Middle East to live in a region free from all weapons of mass destruction. Israel is the only country in the region that has yet to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a fact that has disrupted the balance of security and threatened peace in the region.

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Mr. Belkhadem (Algeria) (spoke in Arabic): ...

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The Middle East region has seen some developments this year that have had an important impact on the peace process. The question of Palestine, which is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is at a delicate stage. That means that the international community must mobilize even further in order to move the peace talks forward. Algeria reiterates its support for the Palestinian people and salutes their struggle for recovering their legitimate rights, including the right to establish their own independent State with Al-Quds as its capital.

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Mr. Roman (Romania) (spoke in Spanish): ...
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The historic conflict in the Middle East is not over yet, but it is diplomacy that still gives us hope for a solution. I applaud the recent efforts made by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to come closer to a final settlement. ...

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Mr. El-Khatib (Jordan) (spoke in Arabic): ...

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The Middle East peace process is going through an extremely sensitive phase. During the past few weeks and months, major, commendable efforts have been made to make Palestinian-Israeli negotiations bear fruit — arriving at a lasting settlement between the two parties.

Jordan has made an essential contribution in all phases of the peace process. This contribution was motivated by Jordan’s conviction that peace is the only real option for all States and peoples of the region. Indeed, geographic and demographic realities make it impossible for any party to settle the conflict by imposing its will or consecrating the status quo in its favour. Therefore, there is no alternative to establishing peace on the basis of law, international legitimacy, justice and equality.

Despite the failure of the recent Camp David summit to produce an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, it has enabled the parties to narrow the gap dividing their positions and made the requirements for reaching a settlement clearer. This confirms the need to continue the efforts by the United States in particular and the international community in general to build on what has been achieved so far.

The achievement of lasting peace in the region requires the realization of the national rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to independence and the establishment of their State on their national territory, with the Holy City of Jerusalem as its capital.

This means reaching implementable and sustainable solutions to the main issues, which are the subject of the permanent-status negotiations. Regarding the issue of territory, Israeli forces must withdraw from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, in accordance with Security Council resolution 242 (1967), so that a Palestinian state may be established on those territories, with internationally recognized borders. Any security arrangements that may be agreed upon must not be based on any claim of sovereignty as a result of occupation.

The solution of the refugee problem must also be based on rules of international law and the various international conventions and on the basis of General Assembly resolution 194 (III), which emphasizes the right of return and compensation to the refugees. Persons who were displaced as a result of the June 1967 war must be able to return to their homes in implementation of Security Council resolution 237 (1967).

The issue of Jerusalem is the key to peace in the region, and it must be solved on the premise that East Jerusalem is Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 to which resolution 242 (1967) applies. East Jerusalem should be under Palestinian sovereignty so that it may become the capital of the independent State of Palestine. Arab and Muslim rights to the Islamic and Christian holy places in Jerusalem must be preserved. In no way can Israeli sovereignty over these holy places be accepted.

The status of Jerusalem and its spiritual and religious importance make it imperative that the city be an open city where freedom of worship and access to the holy places is guaranteed for all believers in God.

Jordan has suffered immensely during the past five decades as a result of the situation arising from the Palestine question, particularly the refugee problem. There are more than 1.5 million refugees living in Jordan. This amounts to 41 per cent of all refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This is in addition to the people displaced as a result of the June 1967 war. As a result of the refugee situation, Jordan has shouldered heavy financial, economic and social burdens.

Jordan will be subject to pressures that will threaten its stability and that of the region if the settlement does not satisfy its legitimate vital interests. Refugees and displaced persons in Jordan will only accept a settlement that recognizes their fundamental rights to return and to compensation.

It is well known that the vast majority of these refugees have Jordanian citizenship as a result of the unity that was established between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the West Bank in 1950. The declaration of unity at the time provided for the preservation of all Arab rights in Palestine and for the inalienability of the rights of the refugees.

Upholding the right of return will, therefore, enable every refugee to exercise freely his or her personal choice. Jordan must safeguard and preserve the rights of its citizens, which is its responsibility under national and international laws. Any solution that does not satisfy the rights of Jordan and its citizens will not lead to the establishment of a just and lasting peace.

Since the question of the refugees and their continued suffering has caused grave damage to Jordan and placed heavy burdens on it, Jordan demands rectification of the damage and losses that it has incurred. This rectification needs to include suitable and adequate compensation. Jordan will endeavour, by all possible means, to ensure that its legitimate claims with regard to this issue are considered.

It is worth mentioning that the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty stipulates that the solution of the refugee problem must be based on international law and that it should be dealt with bilaterally and in parallel with the permanent status negotiations. It also established a mechanism to deal with all financial claims between the two parties.

The rights of refugees and displaced persons to return and to compensation, and the rights of Jordan under international law and the resolutions of international legitimacy, take precedence over other considerations. Jordan, therefore, will only accept a settlement that will preserve its legitimate rights and ensure a lasting and comprehensive peace in the region. Otherwise, the conflict will remain open and volatile, perpetuating the seeds of instability in the region. The position of the refugees in Jordan is vital to the success of any settlement to be reached.

Also on the question of refugees, Jordan once again emphasizes the importance of supporting UNRWA to enable it to carry out its mandate, which must continue until a solution to this question is fully implemented. Jordan, as host to the largest number of refugees and the largest donor to UNWRA, expresses its appreciation of the Agency’s role and calls upon the international community to provide it with the needed financial resources to carry out its humanitarian tasks, particularly at this sensitive phase of the peace process. It also expresses appreciation to the donor States for their contributions.

Peace in the Middle East cannot last unless it is comprehensive. This makes the establishment of peace on the Syrian track essential and a sine qua non for peace in the region as a whole. Negotiations on this track must, therefore, resume in order to reach an agreement ensuring the return to Syria of the occupied Golan Heights to the line of 4 June 1967 in implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon on the basis of Security Council resolution 425 (1978) is a positive development that will hopefully serve as a foundation for the implementation of other Security Council resolutions, leading to the achievement of a comprehensive peace in the region, which has suffered for many decades from the depletion of its resources and the energies of its peoples. Only peace will provide security for all. It should lead to ending the arms race and to using the resources for the development of the region and making it free from weapons of mass destruction.

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Mr. Papandreou (Greece): ...

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... During our Olympiad for Peace we plan to keep a close eye on developments in the Middle East, always seeking methods to facilitate the hopeful process. ...

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Mr. Piqué (Spain) (spoke in Spanish): ...

New prospects for peace have opened up in the Middle East following the Camp David summit. It is vital to consolidate the important progress made there and take advantage of this historic opportunity to conclude an agreement on all outstanding issues. Spain considers that, pursuant to the Declaration of Berlin, the Palestinian people are entitled to establish their own state. The evolution of the peace process must be reflected in the resolutions to be adopted this year by the General Assembly, which must not be a mechanical repetition of the wording used in previous years.

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Mrs. Bangoura (Guinea) (spoke in French): ...

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The beginning of the third millennium brings many challenges and hopes. It brings the hope of seeing a plan for the settlement to the conflict in Western Sahara, thanks to the joint efforts of the OAU and the United Nations, and the hope of finally seeing Israel and its Arab neighbours give peace a chance through a just and lasting settlement to the crisis, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, as well as the respect for the rights and dignity of all peoples in the region.

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The meeting rose at 7.15 p.m.



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