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In the absence of the President, Mr. Annadif (Chad), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m.
Address by His Serene Highness Crown Prince Albert, Crown Prince of the Principality of Monaco
The Acting President (spoke in French ): The Assembly will now hear an address by the Crown Prince of the Principality of Monaco.
Crown Prince Albert, Crown Prince of the Principality of Monaco, was escorted to the rostrum.
The Acting President (spoke in French ): I have great pleasure in welcoming His Serene Highness Crown Prince Albert, Crown Prince of the Principality of Monaco, and I invite him to address the General Assembly.
Crown Prince Albert (Monaco) (spoke inFrench ): ...
I should like to close by appealing to the peoples of Israel and Palestine to put an end to the violence and to overcome their rancour and resentments. A shared heritage and the belief in a future of coexistence represent the underpinnings of a dialogue leading to peace.
The Acting President (spoke in French ): On behalf of the General Assembly, I wish to thank the Crown Prince of the Principality of Monaco for the statement he has just made.
His Serene Highness Prince Albert, Crown Prince of the Principality of Monaco, was escorted from the General Assembly Hall.
The Acting President (spoke in French ): I give the floor to His Excellency The Honourable John Briceño, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, the Environment, Trade and Industry of Belize.
Mr. Briceño (Belize): ...
A major hindrance to development is conflict; it is costly and causes unnecessary pain and suffering, often to innocent victims. My delegation is concerned about any notion that violence could be a solution to conflict. History has taught us that lasting peace can never be constructed in a climate of vengeance.
In this regard we express our grave concern over the continuing deterioration of relations in the Middle East, especially with respect to the Palestinian people. The escalation of violence in the region demonstrates the urgent need for the parties to resume peace negotiations.
The universally endorsed vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, as called for by the Security Council in resolution 1397 (2002), should be realized as soon as possible.
The Acting President ( spoke in French ): I now give the floor to His Excellency The Honourable Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Mr. Kikwete (United Republic of Tanzania): ...
Among today’s daunting global challenges are the conflict situations in Africa and the escalation of violence in the Middle East. We highly appreciate the proactive role played by the United Nations, countries of the respective regions and the international community in trying to mediate and end the conflicts. We pray for the continued involvement of the international community in putting an end to conflicts.
The framework for the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Government of Palestine already exists. Both sides must create an environment conducive to negotiations. There has to be an end to Israeli occupation of Arab lands and significant movement towards the creation of a viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel as an imperative to lasting peace in the Middle East. The security concerns of Israel should be addressed and encoded properly in any agreement. In this regard, all relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions must be adhered to.
It is our conviction that, without the active involvement of a third party, not much can be achieved. Tanzania is convinced that the Security Council, as well as the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the Arab League, can play a pivotal role in getting to a sustainable solution. Fortunately, all of these are now actively involved. We appeal to them to remain seized of the problem and to continue to work together.
The Acting President: I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Slobodan Casule, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Mr. Casule (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia): ...
We are, at this moment, all mesmerized by the development of events surrounding Iraq and the Middle East as a whole. Problems like these demand solutions. Many measures are being considered today, but they must be based on a common conviction that our main task is to construct a new and better world and that these extraordinary steps are not our primary goal.
The Acting President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Didier Opertti, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay and former President of the General Assembly.
Mr. Opertti (Uruguay) (spoke in Spanish): ...
It must also be borne in mind that that ubiquitous and anonymous enemy — terrorism — invokes political pretexts related to unresolved conflicts. In that regard, Uruguay reiterates its confidence that the Palestinian authorities will show proof of their peaceful aspirations through their acts. At the same time, we call on the Government of Israel to make all the efforts necessary to return to the negotiating table, as the only way to achieve lasting peace.
The Acting President: I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Union and Senegalese Living Abroad of Senegal.
Mr. Gadio (Senegal) (spoke in French): ...
Elsewhere, beyond the African continent but so close to our hearts, we observe a growing danger in the Middle East. This year again, the world has witnessed unheard-of violence in the Palestinian territories, where the occupying military Power, Israel, has decidedly opted for State violence, which leads to concepts as dangerous as the so-called targeted assassinations and other preventive operations.
On the Palestinian side, that situation has caused an increase in terrorist cells — specialists in suicide belts — groups that we unequivocally and resolutely condemn. That network has produced an erosion of trust between Israelis and Palestinians — trust that must be restored as swiftly as possible through frank and constructive dialogue that leads to a just and lasting solution.
In order to achieve that, it is imperative that Tel Aviv comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions — in particular resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002) — and that it also adhere to the peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia and to the initiatives of the Quartet, which set out the basic principles of land for peace and withdrawal for normalization. The international community, in particular the Security Council and the Quartet, has the critical duty to formulate a bold plan to realize the vision of two States within the 1967 borders and to hasten what Senegal has continued to call for in all international forums: the immediate convening of an international conference on Palestine, leading to a specific mechanism that would address political, economic and security issues and having as its starting point the creation of a sovereign Palestinian State side by side an Israeli State, living in peace and harmony with its neighbours.
The President: 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, I now give the floor to the chairman of the observer delegation of Palestine, His Excellency Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi.
Mr. Kaddoumi (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic): I congratulate you, Mr. President, on your election to the presidency of the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. We are confident that you will conduct the proceedings of this session with great competence, thanks to your outstanding skills and qualities.
I should like to pay tribute also to your predecessor, Mr. Han Seung-soo, who presided ably over the fifty-sixth session of the General Assembly.
Let me also express my deep appreciation for the efforts of the Secretary-General to harmonize international relations and to ensure respect for the principles of the Charter with a view to strengthening international peace and security.
I wish also to welcome Switzerland and Timor-Leste to the United Nations.
We have agreed to the American political initiative that was put forward in 1991. At the Madrid Conference, several agreements were entered into by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), representing the Palestinian people, and Israel. The aim of those agreements was the commencement of negotiations between the two parties with a view to the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). They also called on Israel to withdraw from the Arab territories occupied since 1967.
A deadline of five years was set for those negotiations. The clock began to run after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 in Washington, under the auspices of the previous United States President — President Clinton.
However, successive Israeli Governments have refused to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories and have continued to deploy Israeli forces there. This intransigence on the part of Israel highlights its goal: the continued occupation of Palestinian territories.
During the course of those negotiations, new settlements were built, 187 altogether, inhabited by some 370,000 settlers, most of them armed. Recently, Israel began building a wall along the line of the 1967 truce. Israel is continuing its cruel and barbaric acts and carrying out its scorched-earth policy, with a view to depriving the Palestinian people of their income and means of subsistence. During the past two years of conflict, agricultural production has dropped by 80 per cent and industrial production by 60 per cent. Unemployment has reached 65 per cent, and 63 per cent of the population is living in poverty.
Israel has destroyed public institutions, police stations, ports and airports. More than 1,350 houses have been torn down, and more than 3,000 businesses and industrial concerns in the occupied territories and in Gaza have been demolished, an area of 5,800 square kilometres.
The taxes that Israel collects, about $850 million, which should have been paid to the Palestinian Authority, have been kept by the Israelis. A total of 90,000 olive trees, out of 300,000, have been uprooted, and the Palestinian infrastructure has been demolished. The occupied territories were divided into 227 separate cantons. Trade was halted, measures were taken to curtail the freedom of movement of people and of goods, and borders with Arab countries were closed. In addition, the Israeli authorities have placed President Arafat under house arrest.
These arbitrary measures have prompted the Palestinian people to pursue their heroic resistance, in the face of Israel’s various lethal weapons, which are used to enforce the separation between the cantons. In Bethlehem, in Gaza and in other cities, residential areas have been bombed. Moreover, many Palestinians have been thrown into jail.
The fact-finding team set up by the Security Council was prevented from going into the field to witness firsthand the suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Nazi Israeli occupation.
The United States is a great Power and bears an important responsibility vis-à-vis the maintenance of international peace and security and the prevention of regional conflict. Moreover, the United States has committed itself to working with the former Soviet Union, through the United Nations, to resolve conflicts by peaceful means and to eliminate their arsenals of weapons of mass destruction.
This is a very important approach that enables the United Nations to enhance fruitful international cooperation among States. Should that approach be abandoned, the United Nations will fail to develop international cooperation and to maintain international peace and security. The use of force in the context of intra-State relations to resolve problems does not help us in any way to uphold the purposes and principles of the United Nations. On the contrary; it only gives rise to fear and doubt among the States Members of the United Nations, especially developing countries, which have always turned to the Organization to protect them.
The peoples of the world are looking to the United States in the hope that that major Power will play a positive and neutral role in international relations and in the hope that it will always be a source of technological and economic assistance.
It goes without saying that the commitment of the United States to the strict implementation of United Nations resolutions — in particular those of the Security Council — without the use of a double standard strengthens our trust in the United Nations and reinforces its credibility as a forum for the resolution of international problems.
Thus we are justified in asking ourselves whether these humanitarian and political responsibilities are incumbent on the United States in this era of globalization. We might ask ourselves why the United States is threatening to use force against Iraq, when sanctions have been imposed on that country for more than 10 years.
Why does the United States not speak of the elimination of the weapons of mass destruction possessed by Israel, which threaten the Arab States, as was noted previously? Israel could destroy the Egyptian high dam, even though a peace agreement was signed between Israel and Egypt more than 24 years ago. Mr. Hans Blix has stated that he had no evidence that Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction.
When the political negotiations began, the Arab countries took a neutral position. Israeli Prime Ministers Rabin and Peres visited certain Arab States and an attempt was made to normalize Israeli-Arab relations. When Yitzhak Rabin was killed in 1995 and authority was handed over to Mr. Netanyahu, progress towards peace was impeded. The Arab countries halted the process of normalizing relations with Israel. Nevertheless, at the 1996 Arab Summit they said that peace was an Arab strategy that would not be abandoned. Despite five years of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, however, expectations were not fulfilled.
Great sacrifices were made on our part. During the Camp David summit, an aide to President Clinton denied that Barak wanted to give the Palestinians a large part of Palestinian territory. Israel was to keep 10 per cent of the territory along the Jordanian border, with three early-warning systems in the West Bank and the establishment of a mutilated Palestinian State with no sovereignty.
The events of 11 September 2001 led to a humanitarian catastrophe that shook the conscience of the world. All countries of the world, including Arab and Muslim countries, stood in solidarity with the American people and expressed their intention to combat terrorism in all its forms. We were surprised, however, that the United States Administration refused to acknowledge that the Sharon Government was perpetrating acts of State terrorism. The Arabs put forward a political initiative at the Arab Summit in March, in the hope that they would be able to make an effective contribution to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict with a view to ratifying a peace agreement with Israel. This Arab initiative, which provided for a withdrawal by Israel from lands occupied since 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian State with Al-Quds as its capital, was endorsed and welcomed by the United States and the European States. It is not enough, however, to merely welcome the initiative. We believe that implementing it would make a political settlement possible. Expressions of compassion and sympathy are welcome but they must be supported by concrete actions if a settlement is to be achieved. The Arab initiative includes all the essential principles necessary for a settlement, in accordance with the provisions of the Madrid Agreement and the principle of land for peace.
Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) went even further in supporting the establishment of a Palestinian State that would be recognized by Israel. This was accompanied by an American proposal. If Israel rejects this comprehensive and fair proposal, how much longer can it expect to continue in this climate of animosity towards Arabs and constant threats to their security? How long can Israel continue to occupy Arab territory and prevent Palestinian refugees from returning home? The question of Palestine cannot be separated from the situation of the Arab States, given all that the issue represents for them and for their future.
Israel must end the acts of aggression that it continues to perpetrate against Palestinians and their towns. The Israeli army is continuing to assassinate civilians and police and security officers. Sharon has been described as a man of peace, and it has been said that Israel has a right to self-defence, even as it continues to occupy Arab territories and commit massacres. The situation on the ground defies the imagination; it is very difficult to find a way to justify the American policy. If the threat of terrorism is allowed to rule our lives, the world will become a battlefield.
In conclusion, we and the other Arab countries welcomed the American statement on the establishment of a Palestinian State. We reaffirm, however, that the borders of that State should be based on the demarcation line of 4 June 1967, in accordance with Council resolutions. Its sovereignty must be assured, and Israeli forces must be withdrawn from all the territory. We cannot agree to any temporary borders. We want a lasting settlement in keeping with the Arab initiative put forward by Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia — an initiative that is in keeping with relevant Security Council resolutions and with the principles of the peace process.
We appreciate the role that the Quartet is playing in the peace process. No party should call upon the Palestinians alone to meet their demands. The Israeli forces must be called upon to revise their strategy and the Israeli side must end its assassinations and attacks against citizens and refrain from using collective economic sanctions, occupation and terrorism as a tool.
Israel must halt its ongoing assault, lift the siege that has been imposed upon the Palestinian people and withdraw completely from the occupied territories so that the Palestinian Authority can implement the promised reforms and hold elections in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in Al-Quds, under international auspices. There should be an international presence to guarantee the protection of the Palestinian people. This is a matter of urgency; the siege that is impeding the daily life of our citizens must be lifted.
The President : We have heard the last speaker in the debate for this meeting.
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 C-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.