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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/68/PV.5
24 September 2013

Official Records
General Assembly
Sixty-eighth session
5th plenary meeting
Tuesday, 24 September 2013, 9 a.m.
New York

President: Mr. Ashe ...........................................................(Antigua and Barbuda)




Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization (A/68/1)

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I welcome the re-engagement of Israelis and Palestinians in direct negotiations and the bold diplomacy that made that possible. If we are serious about achieving a two-State solution, then we must recognize that the window is closing fast. I urge the parties to show leadership and a sense of the long-term interests of their peoples and the region. I am going to convene the Quartet principals meeting later this week in New York to lend our strong support to the ongoing Middle East peace process.

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Agenda item 8

General debate

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The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations Her Excellency Ms. Dilma Rousseff, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, and to invite her to address the Assembly.

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The year 2015 will mark the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations and the tenth anniversary of the 2005 World Summit. As such, it will be an occasion for us to carry out the urgent reform that we have been calling for since that first summit. We must avoid a collective defeat of coming to 2015 without a Security Council capable of fully exercising its responsibilities in today’s world. The limited representation in the Security Council, in view of the new challenges of the twenty-first century, is a source of grave concern. Examples of that concern include the huge difficulty in providing a solution for the ongoing Syrian conflict and the state of paralysis in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian question.

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The general debate provides us with an opportunity to reiterate the fundamental principles that guide my country’s foreign policy and inform our stance on pressing issues on today’s international agenda. We guide ourselves and our actions through a defence of a multilateral world governed by international law, where the peaceful solution of conflicts holds sway and where the pursuit of a fair and solidarity-based order prevails both economically and socially.

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Likewise, lasting peace between Israel and Palestine has taken on a new and pressing dimension given the sweeping changes that the Middle East is currently undergoing. The time has come to meet the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for an independent and sovereign State. The time has also come for us to bring about a broad international consensus for a two-State solution. The current talks between Israelis and Palestinians should yield practical and significant results in favour of an agreement.

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The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, and to invite him to address the Assembly.

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So what does that mean going forward? In the near term, America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Arab-Israeli conflict. While those issues are not the cause of all of the region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace.

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We are also determined to resolve a conflict that goes back even further than our differences with Iran: the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. I have made it clear that the United States will never compromise our commitment to Israel’s security, nor our support for its existence as a Jewish State. Earlier this year, in Jerusalem, I was inspired by young Israelis who stood up for the belief that peace was necessary, just and possible, and I believe that there is a growing recognition within Israel that the occupation of the West Bank is tearing at the democratic fabric of the Jewish State. But the children of Israel have the right to live in a world where the nations assembled in this body fully recognize their country and where we unequivocally reject those who fire rockets at their homes or incite others to hate them.

Likewise, the United States remains committed to the belief that the Palestinian people have a right to live in security and dignity in their own sovereign State. On the same trip, I had the opportunity to meet with young Palestinians in Ramallah whose ambition and incredible potential are matched only by the pain they feel in having no firm place in the community of nations. They are understandably cynical as to whether real progress will ever be made, and they are frustrated by their families enduring the daily indignity of occupation. But they, too, recognize that two States is the only real path to peace, because, just as the Palestinian people must not be displaced, the State of Israel is here to stay.

The time is now ripe for the entire international community to get behind the pursuit of peace. Already Israeli and Palestinian leaders have demonstrated a willingness to take significant political risks. President Abbas has put aside efforts to short-cut the pursuit of peace and come to the negotiating table. Prime Minister Netanyahu has released Palestinian prisoners and reaffirmed his commitment to a Palestinian State. Current talks are focused on final status issues of borders and security, refugees and Jerusalem.

So now the rest of us must be willing to take risks as well. Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic State depends upon the realization of a Palestinian State, and we should say so clearly. Arab States, and those who have supported the Palestinians, must recognize that stability will be served only through a two-State solution and a secure Israel. All of us must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists throughout the region and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future. 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 are languishing without work. So let us emerge from the familiar corners of blame and prejudice. Let us support Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are prepared to walk the difficult road to peace.

Real breakthroughs on these two issues — Iran’s nuclear programme and Israeli-Palestinian peace — would have a profound and positive impact on the entire Middle East and North Africa. But the current convulsions arising out of the Arab Spring remind us that a just and lasting peace cannot be measured only by agreements between nations. It must also be measured by our ability to resolve conflict and promote justice within nations. And by that measure, it is clear that all of us have a lot more work to do.

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The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Abdullah Gül, President of the Republic of Turkey, and to invite him to address the Assembly.

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The continuation of the Palestinian question for more than half a century has inflicted colossal damage on the very concept of justice. The denial of the right of the Palestinians to have a State of their own has no justification on any moral, political or legal ground. Despite insistent calls of the international community, the continued expansion of the illegal settlements on Palestinian land undermines the prospects for a two-State solution.

The case for peace is self-evident. We therefore welcome and strongly support the talks initiated between the parties under the auspices of the United States. The success of future efforts mainly depends on the Israeli Government’s acceptance of the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian State. There is also a need for the presence of a reconciled and unified Palestinian front.

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The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Sebastián Piñera Echeñique, President of the Republic of Chile, and to invite him to address the Assembly.

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Similarly, Chile has always defended and will continue to defend the cause and rights of the Palestinian people to have a full, free and democratic State — a State that, like the State of Israel, enjoys agreed, recognized and secure borders with all its neighbours, allowing its inhabitants to live and develop in stable and lasting peace and security. We therefore recognized Palestine as an observer member of the United Nations and hope very soon to welcome it as a full Member of the Organization.

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The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Rossen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria, and to invite him to address the Assembly.

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My country is encouraged by the resumption of the direct peace talks between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority at the initiative of Secretary Kerry, the Quartet and the parties concerned. We expect both sides to demonstrate perseverance and commitment to a peaceful solution, to respect each other’s legitimate interests and to refrain from unilateral actions that could undermine the process. Negotiations are the best way forward towards the ultimate goal, namely, a just, comprehensive and lasting solution on the basis of the two-State formula.

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The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Armando Emílio Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique, and to invite him to address the Assembly.

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It is in the context of this overall framework that the Republic of Mozambique maintains its support for the self-determination of the Palestinian people, the existence of a Palestinian State based on the relevant United Nations resolutions and the two-State solution in which Palestine and Israel live side by side and in an environment of peace and security.

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The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. François Hollande, President of the French Republic, and invite him to address the Assembly.

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There are serious concerns in that part of the Middle East, but there are also glimmers of hope. The first is the resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Only that will enable peace to be achieved. It requires the coexistence of two States, both with safe and recognized borders. We must do everything to ensure that the opportunity that now exists for Israelis, Palestinians and the entire region is seized to finally bring an end to a conflict that whose regional and international repercussions are well known to us all. Negotiating peace between Israel and Palestine would be an historic act.

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The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and to invite him to address the Assembly.

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Our international community must also work together for a speedy resolution of the region’s core crisis. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict consumes resources that are needed to build a better future and feeds the flames of extremism around the world. It is time to put this fire out.

The talks that began in July show that progress can be made, with willing parties, determined United States leadership and strong regional and international backing. We commend the President of Palestine and the Prime Minister of Israel for the bold decision to resume final status negotiations. We urge them to stay committed to reaching an agreement within the established time frame. Let there be no actions that can derail what is still a fragile process. This means no continued settlement construction and no unilateral actions that threaten the status quo in East Jerusalem and its Muslim and Christian holy sites. Such threats would be a flashpoint for global concern.

We know the right way forward. And the goal can be reached. It includes a just and final two-State settlement, based on international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative; for Israel, real security and normal relations with 57 Arab and Muslim countries; for the Palestinian people, at long last, the rights they deserve in a viable and independent Palestinian State on Palestinian national soil, based on the 1967 lines and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

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The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Ivan Gašparovič, President of the Slovak Republic, and to invite him to address the Assembly.

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We continue to pay close attention to the security situation in the Middle East. We are glad to see some positive signals among the worrying news from this part of the world. Slovakia welcomes and supports the renewal of talks between Israel and Palestine. It seems, however, that talks are not enough. A number of binding agreements and resolutions have been agreed on to date in order to resolve numerous issues, but they have not been sufficiently complied with. We therefore expect more in the way of implementation of agreed solutions. That is vital to peace, security, stability and further development in the entire region.

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The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, and to invite him to address the Assembly.

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Stalemate continues to characterize the Arab-Israeli conflict. That conflict is at the forefront of the issues threatening international peace and security, owing to the continued Israeli occupation and the injustices inflicted upon the Palestinian people, as well as the failure to reach a just and lasting peace in accordance with resolutions of international legality. The continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories cannot be accepted as normal. Its practices include the changing of the demographic conditions in those territories, particularly through the expansion of settlement activity, the Judaization of the city of Jerusalem, the unjust embargo against the Gaza Strip, and intensification of settlement activities in the occupied Syrian Golan and changing its status quo and demographics. This is not simply because such actions represent flagrant violations of international laws and covenants, but also because the Palestinian cause is a just cause and the historical injustice inflicted upon the Palestinian people must end.

The major international bodies were established on the basis of the right to self-determination in the aftermath of two world wars. It is unreasonable that they cannot do anything about the last remaining colonial issue in the world.

Israel should realize that coercion and de facto policies do not bring security. It is wrong for it to establish a State that believes that the prospect for peace lies in subjugating other peoples, denying their rights and making that a priority over peace.

There can be no security without peace. True peace can come about only through coexistence among peoples on the basis of good-neighbourliness, mutual respect and respect for the interests of all. The peace we desire is built upon dignity, justice and the principles of international legality, as well as United Nations resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, the principle of a two-State solution and the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories. The experiences of different nations and peoples confirm that unjust settlements do not endure but only lead to new conflicts.

The continued de facto policy in Palestine will not make the issue disappear. It is actually becoming more complicated, because continuing settlement activities are leading to the destruction of the foundation for the establishment of a Palestinian State. The current status quo resembles a situation of apartheid under the domination of one State or even within a single State. That cannot but be grounds for fresh conflict, as no people could accept continued injustice and remain silent.

The inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people to establish their independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital and within the limits of 1967 borders, as well as the right of return for Palestinian refugees, are not only an Arab demand; they also represent an international standard for testing the credibility of international legality, which should not be divisible. Just as the international community has in the past applied the principles of international legality to other crises in the world, we should apply the same legal principles to all issues. We therefore call upon the Security Council to uphold its responsibility to maintain international peace and security and to take the decisions necessary to stop all illegitimate Israeli practices.

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The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, and to invite him to address the Assembly.

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As we celebrate our freedom and democracy, we remain mindful that our struggle is not complete until the people of Palestine and Western Sahara enjoy their rights to self-determination. Just as the United Nations stood by South Africa, we would like to see the Organization be at the forefront of efforts towards self-determination for the peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara.

We are deeply concerned about continued illegal settlement activities in the West Bank in violation of international law. Such illegal settlement activities jeopardize the realization of the two-State solution.

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The Acting President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and to invite him to address the Assembly.

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Deepening uncertainties in the Middle East are disturbing. We await the coexistence of Palestine and Israel on the basis of pre-1967 borders. Sri Lanka looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full Member of the United Nations.

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The meeting rose at 3.40 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.


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