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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
Security Council
12 March 2012



Security Council
SC/10575

            Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council
6734th Meeting (AM)


‘ARAB LEADERS MUST CHOOSE PATH OF MEANINGFUL REFORM OR MAKE WAY FOR THOSE WHO

WILL,’ SECRETARY-GENERAL DECLARES IN HIGH-LEVEL SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING

United States Abhors Silence When Governments Massacre Own People; Russian
Federation Says Demands for Regime Change, Military Intervention ‘Risky Recipes’

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Background

The Security Council met this morning for a high-level meeting on “Changes in the Middle East”.

Opening Remarks

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that “the spontaneous and home-grown democratic movements are a credit to the Arab people”, but also noted that “we have reached a sober moment”, in view of the challenges of the road ahead as well as the cost in human suffering and loss of life.  ...

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In addition, he said: “A regional awakening based on the ideals of freedom, dignity and non-violence cannot be complete without a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” He reiterated his appeals to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to embrace regional change and show the courage and vision needed to reach an historical agreement, pledging to remain engaged with the Quartet partners to assist the parties to realize two States living side by side in peace and security.

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Statements

Speaking in his national capacity, Council President WILLIAM HAGUE, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said his country had convened the meeting to call for intensified actions in support of political and economic freedoms in the Middle East and for “urgent, essential Security Council action to stem the bloodshed in Syria”. The Arab Spring had already spawned the most important political events of the twenty-first century and it was only right that it be discussed in the Security Council. Some people viewed that transformation with fear and consternation, but in Britain, it was viewed in a positive light and there was the hope that, within perhaps 20 years, the Arab region would be one of prosperous, open societies.

He said that if that openness could lead to a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the case for making the promise of the Arab Spring a reality was that much stronger. ...

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ALAIN JUPPÉ, Minister of State, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of France, ...

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He went on to say that the Council appeared to be powerless to address the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The Palestinian people were just as deserving of the right to have their legitimate aspirations addressed as the people of Syria. A two-State solution was the only viable one and the best chance of ensuring security for Israel. After so many years of failure and unanswered hopes, perhaps it was time for the international community to change its approach, he said, calling on the Council and all its partners to recommit to lasting peace.

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SERGEY LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, ...

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The Arab Spring should in no way be used as a pretext to weaken attention to the Palestinian issue. The potential for conflict in the Middle East and Northern Africa would remain high until a comprehensive settlement was achieved, he said. The Quartet should start working regularly and persistently to create an environment conducive for continued direct Israeli-Palestinian contact aimed at full-fledged negotiations. He called for closer cooperation between the Quartet and the League of Arab States. He welcomed Jordan’s initiative in January to host a series of useful meetings between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, Secretary of State of the United States, ...

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... Among other matters, she said it was important that Palestinians achieved their independent State through a negotiated peace that was not dictated from the outside. She condemned the renewed rocket fire from Gaza and called on all sides to make every effort to restore calm. It was up to the people and leaders of the region to resist demagoguery and build prosperous democratic societies, which required continuous, long-term commitment on the part of all.

PAULO SACADURA CABRAL PORTAS, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of Portugal, ...

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He called on the international community to generate the political will to ensure a two-State solution enabling Israelis and Palestinians to finally live together in peace. Everyone knew that was the only viable solution. Fulfilling the legitimate ambitions of both sides could only be attained through serious and credible negotiations between the parties. “We need concrete and tangible actions that bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiation table,” he said, adding that along with the Quartet and Arab leadership, Europeans had a particular responsibility and must play an active role to break the deadlock.

GUIDO WESTERWELLE, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, ...

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... The changes in the region had made progress towards a two-State solution for Israel and Palestine all the more urgent, and in that regard, he welcomed today’s meeting of the diplomatic Quartet. All parties must do everything to ease tensions and to avoid an escalation on the ground, he said, emphasizing that he was deeply worried by the flare-up in violence around Gaza over the weekend, and called for the shelling of innocent civilians to end.

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MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) said the changes in the region were diverse in their scope, depth and methods, but they had resulted in the birth of genuine hope. At the same time, the peace of the region was threatened by the occupation policies of Israel. The Council must promote progress on that situation as soon as possible, and the international community must influence those in the area to bring about the two-State solution. ...

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LI BAODONG (China) ...

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... He said the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was at a standstill, and the entire international community must recommit to ensuring a negotiated solution. China welcomed the earlier meeting among the Quartet principles.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) ...

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He went on to say that the international community must remain cognizant of the need to comprehensively tackle the Arab-Israeli issue. Indeed, that issue must not get lost in the “din and preoccupation caused by other situations in the region”. Also, the international community risked further violence in the region if the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people were not met. Their protests could become radicalized unless concrete action was taken to end the occupation of all Arab lands so that all the people of the region could live in peace and build cooperative relations. “Moreover, the call of the international community for democratic reform sounds hollow to Palestinians and other peoples living under occupation,” he said, urging “immediate measures”, including an end to all settlement construction and favourable consideration by the Council of the Palestinian application for membership in the United Nations.

BASO SANQU (South Africa) ...

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He cautioned the international community, however, against using the plight of the Arab peoples to pursue self-interest and regime change. He underlined the importance of working with regional and subregional organizations on all the challenges related to changes in the Arab world, adding that the plight of the Western Saharan and Palestinian peoples must not be forgotten. He hoped that efforts to improve the lives of all the region’s peoples would aim to create an environment within which citizens could live in harmony and fulfilment.

AGSHIN MEHDIYEV (Azerbaijan) ... He regretted the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process, but commended Jordan’s consistent efforts to revive the dialogue and resume negotiations for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution. He expressed deep concern over continuing illegal settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which impacted Palestinians’ rights and freedoms, seriously damaged the peace process and threatened the two-State solution and emergence of a viable Palestinian State. In contrast to other well-known situations involving groundless, illegitimate territorial claims under the guise of caring for ethnic minority groups, the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and statehood was legitimate. It was crucial to apply relevant international legal norms, urgently remove the adverse impact of military occupations and discourage their practice.

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ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON (Pakistan), ...

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Yet, the Arab Spring would never be complete without peace between Arabs and Israelis, he said. While the spring season was a natural occurrence, the current stalemate between Palestinians and Israelis was “the winter of Arab discontent”. Indeed, Israel’s ongoing settlement activity and demolition of Palestinian infrastructure increased tensions on the ground. The Council had not produced any cogent decision. Pakistan believed that now was an appropriate time to urge Israel to stop “land grabbing”. The biggest challenge of the Middle East remained the Palestinian question, and the Palestinian people must benefit from the Arab Spring. On broader issues, he said Islam and democracy were not incompatible; the Muslim religion was grounded in the search for brotherhood and peace.

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