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At this rostrum a year ago, I did not expect the Arab spring, and spoke in earnest of the hope that progress would come in the then historic process to bring permanent peace to the peoples of Israel and Palestine (see A/65/PV.19). It is our long-held conviction that an independent Palestinian nation, taking its rightful place in our global family and living side by side with a secure Israel, is the only road to permanent peace. However, while we all know that that is the sensible outcome that must be achieved, it will sadly remain elusive without a clear sense of commitment and willingness by both sides to negotiate in good faith.
For genuine and permanent peace between Palestine and the State of Israel, there must be direct negotiations between the two countries. Addressing the symptoms, but not the root causes of the conflict is short-sighted and the result unsustainable. Solutions must be decided by the two parties, not imposed from outside. Without that strong buy-in from the Israelis and Palestinians themselves, any solutions will, at best, be short-lived. More than ever, visionary leadership, on both sides, that sees beyond the immediate dictates of short-sighted interests and that is, instead, willing to seize the opportunity to fashion a just and durable peace settlement, is critically needed at this point.
Moreover, we fully support the right of Palestine to become a full member of the community of nations. We believe in the two-State solution for the Palestinian-Israeli problem, where Palestinians should be allowed to live in peace and dignity in their own homeland. We have all seen the changes happening in the Arab world. The international community must support the peaceful and democratic aspirations of all peoples.
With regard to the Middle East, my country therefore firmly believes that the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the international community must continue to seek a political solution to that old conflict. The Middle East must know peace. Israel and Palestine must coexist in two States with well-defined borders, in peace and security. We are fundamentally convinced that the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a national State and those of Israel for sustainable peace and security are not contradictory, but complementary, objectives.
The events in the Arab world notwithstanding, we must continue to focus on the Middle East peace process. The Middle East took centre stage this week here at the General Assembly — and rightly so. We must build trust and we have to foster the belief among Israelis and Palestinians that a negotiated settlement can be achieved — a sustainable solution based on two States living side by side in a secure and peaceful neighbourhood within mutually recognized borders. We have no choice but to return to direct negotiations between the two parties. The Quartet, in its statement yesterday, has shown a way to do that and has also proposed concrete timelines. Austria fully supports the Quartet statement. There is no time to lose.