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The Honourable Dato’Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia, was escorted to the rostrum.
The President (spoke in French) : I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Dato’Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Badawi (Malaysia): ...
While the precarious situation in Iraq cries out for United Nations action, the plight and suffering of the people of Palestine remains a tragic embodiment of the consequences of non-implementation of United Nations resolutions and the non-enforcement of United Nations decisions. We must actively revive the road map for peace in the Middle East, which remains unimplemented. The Quartet needs to play a more vigorous role. The international community must lend its full weight to push for an independent and sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and with Israel and Palestine living peacefully, side by side within secure and recognized borders.
To create an environment of confidence for the speedy resuscitation of the road map, we must seriously consider approving the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force or the deployment of an international monitoring mechanism to oversee the implementation of the road map for peace in the Middle East.
We must also find ways to give effect to the historic advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory. In October last year, the General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution demanding that Israel stop and reverse construction of the wall built in the West Bank. It is unacceptable that a multilateral resolution giving effect to the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion cannot be effectively implemented. Clearly, the search for peace and security also depends on our willingness and determination to ensure its enforceability.
The President (spoke in French ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Farouk Al-Shara’, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Mr. Al-Shara’ (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
At the speed of light, the world forgot about the surge of optimism that overwhelmed many of the world’s leaders as they addressed this Assembly four years ago when they celebrated the third Millennium. Today, a wave of pessimism has taken over the world because of extremist and intolerant policies advanced by some strategic think-tanks that were determined to find a new enemy, under any pretext, after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Israel has contributed to the creation of many of those flimsy pretexts. It has packaged them with great care, breathed life into many of them, and distributed them among the delegations that owe allegiance to it. It was hoping to achieve the following: first, to incite the Americans in particular and the West in general to wage endless wars in the Middle East, in order to underscore the old-new theory of Israel that the Arab-Israeli conflict is not the core of the problems of the region. To prove our point we refer to the argument promoted by Israel that the situation in Iraq and its repercussions are more dangerous and complicated than that prevailing in the occupied Arab territories and Palestine. Sharon is trying to mislead world public opinion into believing that achieving peace would require only the dismantling of some Jewish settler outposts in Gaza, not withdrawal from the West Bank and the occupied Palestinian territories, let alone withdrawal from East Jerusalem and accepting a just solution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees.
Secondly, Israel hoped to divert the attention of the world and camouflage the settlement activities in the occupied Arab territories that have continued unabated, while continuing to build the racist segregation wall and lessening the importance of State terror perpetrated by Israel on a daily basis. Israel has repackaged its policies as an act of self-defence that does not warrant condemnation and denunciation even though it targets innocent civilians.
But Israel has not fully succeeded in realizing its goals, and even where it has, that success will be short-lived because Israel has in recent years transformed its regular army into gangs bent on committing systematic killings and war crimes against Palestinian civilians, all perpetrated in the territories it occupies in the West Bank and Gaza. Killing the Palestinians often occurs in the course of house demolitions that terrorize their wretched occupants, who frequently look death in the eye.
All this notwithstanding, the defenceless Palestinians have stayed the course and refused to surrender or leave. Israel bears an important share of the responsibility for the intensification and worsening of the American predicament in Iraq by avoiding the resumption of the peace process despite the hand extended to it in peace by the Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese.
I must repeat that Israel bears an important share of the responsibility for the intensification and worsening of the American predicament in Iraq owing to its failure to resume the peace process. The Israeli course of action may come back to haunt it because its continued occupation of the Arab lands is a major cause of the rejection of American policies in the broader Middle East.
That is also true in Europe where polls conducted a year ago showed that most of the citizens of the European Union believe that Israel poses a threat to international peace.
Among the strategic mistakes committed by the think-tanks and research centres that owe their allegiance to Israel is to mislead the Israelis into believing that the new Iraq will hasten to conclude peace agreements with Israel and establish diplomatic relations with it before it withdraws from the occupied Arab territories. They ignored the fact that the Iraqis refused to adopt the new flag that was designed for their country after the war simply because its colours somehow bear resemblance to the Israeli flag.
Syria has repeatedly declared its commitment to a just and comprehensive peace. We continue to call for the withdrawal of Israel from all the Arab territories occupied in 1967, for guaranteeing the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to establish their own independent State with Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy, namely, Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the Madrid terms of reference and the Arab Peace Initiative endorsed by the Beirut summit of 2002.
That was the basis of Syria’s serious engagement in the peace negotiations for over a decade. The literature published on the subject recently in the United States and Israel bears witness to the seriousness with which Syria approached those negotiations. What the peace process lacks today is a strategic Israeli decision comparable to the Syrian decision to achieve peace in the region.
It was rather disparaging that the Foreign Minister of Israel used this rostrum of international legitimacy to ignore the facts and selectively refer to a resolution recently adopted by the Security Council on Lebanon. Israel violates Lebanese airspace, territorial waters, land borders and sovereignty on a daily basis and continues to occupy parts of Lebanese territory.
The representative of Israel tried, in vain, to misguide the international community. The world community today bears witness to Israel’s persistent non-compliance with 40 Security Council and 600 General Assembly resolutions, all of which call upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied Arab territories so that a just and comprehensive peace can be established in the region. Soon after the adoption of every resolution Israel would reject it, levelling accusations and heaping insults on the Organization. It has refused to allow entry to members of fact-finding missions, and has even harassed them. Given all those facts, does anyone have the right to ask whether the statements by the representative of Israel mark the beginning of a radical change in the position of his Government, perhaps indicating the pursuit of a policy that respects international legitimacy and is committed to compliance with its resolutions?
For centuries our region has endured more foreign threats and onslaughts, acts of aggression, misrepresentations of facts and use of force against our peoples than any other region. Its potential has been wasted and its material and intellectual resources squandered, thus preventing it from attaining its development goals and advancing its capacities. The Middle East suffers an explosive situation brought about by Israeli’s expansionist policies, continued occupation and virtual sabotage of any chance for peace in the region. Furthermore, Israel’s acquisition of a nuclear arsenal constitutes a major destabilizing factor in the Middle East region that threatens the future of its peoples.
Syria was among the first countries of the region to call for declaring the Middle East region a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons. We have seriously worked to attain that objective. We have joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) . We have also contributed to numerous initiatives to attain that goal, most recently through the draft resolution we submitted on behalf of the Arab Group to the Security Council on 29 December 2003 (see A/58/667, annex). The draft resolution called for the establishment of a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East region, in particular nuclear weapons, in the context of a collective international monitoring regime under United Nations supervision, which would enhance the role of multilateral international disarmament conventions.
International terrorism is a cause for concern for us all. Together we should work to eradicate that dangerous phenomenon by addressing its root causes. It is on this basis that Syria has condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We condemn the kidnapping and killing of innocent people and the targeting of civilians, government institutions, humanitarian agencies, religious establishments, international organizations and diplomatic missions.
In that context, we reiterate our condemnation of the heinous terrorist act that killed innocent children in a school in Beslan, Russia. We also call on the international community to condemn the systematic State terror perpetrated by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories against the defenceless Palestinian people, as well as the many massacres perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces, in which innocent children, women and the elderly are killed.
Since its establishment, the United Nations has successfully overcome many acute regional and international crises. Its Charter has had to coexist with some of those crises. At times, the United Nations has dealt with those crises successfully. At other times, it has skirted them without actually coming to grips with them. A case in point is the Palestinian question, which is as old as the United Nations itself. The Arab-Israeli conflict still rages in spite of the fact that the United Nations has adopted more than 600 resolutions on the subject. Israel, however, has not implemented a single one of these resolutions and continues to find protection both inside and outside the United Nations.
A lot has been said about establishing a greater Middle East. We are convinced that success in achieving that will remain elusive unless the relevant resolutions are implemented and peace is restored, in accordance with the aspirations of the people of the region and the world.
The President ( spoke in French ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Nizar Obaid Madani, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Madani (Saudi Arabia) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
The setback in the peace process and the mounting wave of violence and extremism in our region are largely attributable to the Israeli Government’s pursuit of policies that are totally incompatible with the fundamental principles of the peace process, notably the principle of land for peace. Israel’s actions are in contravention of Security Council resolutions — in particular, resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) — and the road map. They are incompatible with the United States Administration’s vision of two States — an Israeli State and an independent Palestinian State — living side by side.
The Arab peace initiative continues to stand as a credible basis for the security and stability of all the peoples of the region because it ensures a lasting, just and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is therefore incumbent upon all of us to exert our utmost efforts to put the peace process back on track. It is particularly important to push the peace process forward after it has stalled and after the humanitarian plight of the Palestinian people — which should be a goad to the conscience of the international community — has been met with indifference.
Furthermore, peace cannot be achieved by unilateral Israeli measures that create new realities on the ground and that are designed to prejudice the final outcome of any political negotiations on the delicate issue of a final settlement. The Palestinian question cannot be solved, nor can the Arab-Israeli conflict be ended, through the use of excessive force — aerial bombardment, guided missiles, assassination of Palestinian activists, destruction of infrastructure, usurpation of property, violation of rights and the imposition of collective punishment. Peace will be achieved and security will prevail only when United Nations resolutions are implemented, the provisions of international law are respected and applied and the principles of justice and equality are observed.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia condemns the continuous escalation against the Palestinian people and the Israeli Government’s insistence on establishing and expanding its settlements. We also condemn the continued construction of the separation wall that has annexed extensive Palestinian lands in unprecedented defiance of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which acknowledged the illegality of the wall and ordered Israel to dismantle it, as well as the General Assembly resolution that followed that opinion, effectively demonstrating the consensus of the international community on the issue.
However, if Israel is serious about withdrawing from Gaza and about dismantling its settlements there, we stress that such an action should proceed in coordination with the Palestinian Authority, in conformity with the requirements of the road map and under the supervision of the Quartet. The proposed withdrawal should come about as a first step towards a complete and full withdrawal from all the Palestinian lands, including Al-Quds.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is closely monitoring efforts to eliminate all forms of weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East and to keep it free from all such lethal weapons. In that respect, we call upon the international community to adopt an even-handed approach, refrain from applying double standards, assume its legal and moral responsibilities and urge the Israeli Government to refrain from the development of its nuclear programmes, as well as subject its nuclear installations to the inspection and safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The President (spoke in French ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Yousef Bin Al-Alawi Bin Abdulla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman.
Mr. Abdulla (Oman) (spoke in Arabic): ...
The problem of Palestine and Israel’s continued occupation of Arab territories in Syria and Lebanon cannot be put on the back burner indefinitely. Therefore, we should seek fair and just solutions to those problems. The road map announced on 30 April 2003 was welcomed by the Arab countries but has yet to be implemented. We therefore call on the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations — the members of the Quartet that sponsored the road map — to fulfil their commitment to the Middle East.
The meeting rose at 1.15 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.