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The President (spoke in French): I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Mr. Winston Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Spencer (Antigua and Barbuda): ...
The resolution of the conflict in the Middle East, for example, has long eluded the international community. This is why we are hopeful with regard to the latest efforts at peaceful negotiations between Israel and Palestine being brokered by the current United States Administration. If there is to be lasting peace in the Middle East, there must be two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. There must be direct negotiations with both parties, Israel and Palestine, at the same table. Israel must heed the international community’s unanimous call to extend the moratorium on disputed settlements, which would contribute positively to the negotiations. And all the countries of that region must commit to and work towards a lasting and durable Middle East peace.
The President (spoke in French): I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Mr. Edward Natapei, Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Natapei (Vanuatu): ...
As we applaud calls for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, my country also calls for the lifting of the embargo on Cuba, which will enable the good people of Cuba to improve their lives.
The President (spoke in French): I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Mr. Tillman Thomas, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Information and Legal Affairs of Grenada, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Thomas (Grenada): ...
We are also encouraged by recent positive signs of engagement between warring parties, and we hope that political and military conflicts around the world and, moreover, in the Middle East will soon come to an end. Grenada is particularly pleased that the Palestinians and Israelis are prepared to resume talks over their long-standing dispute with a view to finding a lasting peace once and for all.
The President (spoke in French): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Mr. Rassoul (Afghanistan): ...
I have spoken of the desire of the people of Afghanistan for peace and stability and of our right to them. We are, however, acutely aware that for over half a century our brothers and sisters in Palestine have been denied their right to an independent State living in peaceful coexistence with its neighbours. We are encouraged by the resumption of direct talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, which give us hope that sustainable peace in the Middle East may be secured.
The President (spoke in French) : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Samuel Santos López, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Nicaragua.
Mr. Santos López (Nicaragua) (spoke in Spanish): ...
The war and State terrorism against the people of Palestine must immediately cease. All Security Council and General Assembly resolutions concerning Israel must be respected and complied with. We must tie the hands of those who fan the flames of hatred and war and are capable of attacking a humanitarian flotilla — an act that has been denounced by the Human Rights Council commission of inquiry.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Micheál Martin, T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ireland.
Mr. Martin (Ireland): ...
There is one conflict that, more than most, requires the sustained engagement of the international community at the present time. The direct talks under way between Israeli and Palestinian leaders present a historic opportunity to make progress towards a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. I have no doubt that progress towards a comprehensive settlement based on the two-State solution would contribute more to improving global security than any other single peacebuilding effort.
I want to salute the leadership and commitment demonstrated by President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and Special Envoy Mitchell in persuading Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume direct negotiations. While there have been many critical junctures in the Middle East peace process in the past, there can be no doubting the significance of the initiative which is under way at present. It represents what is possibly the final opportunity to achieve a just settlement based on two States living side by side in peace and security.
President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu are also to be commended for their personal commitment to this process. I encourage both sides to stay the course and not to be deterred by those who seek to derail the process. In particular, I urge all parties to refrain from any actions which could endanger the negotiation process. It is vital that every effort be made to keep the process intact. Our own experience in the Northern Ireland peace process has shown that political progress can only be achieved through dialogue. Maximum restraint for the duration of these talks, which are intended to be — and should be — completed in 12 months, would be a small price for lasting peace. In this regard, I echo the statement made earlier today by the High Representative of the European Union (EU), Catherine Ashton, regretting the Israeli decision not to extend the moratorium on settlements. There could be no greater single confidence-building measure and practical demonstration of commitment to peace than a decision to desist from all settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
We must not forget Gaza at this critical time. I witnessed for myself the appalling humanitarian plight of the people of Gaza when I visited the region last February. Eighty per cent of them live below the poverty line. The deprivation and hardship that they are suffering because of the blockade are painfully obvious. Yet the people of Gaza show a remarkable dignity and resilience in the face of living conditions which are quite simply unacceptable.
I welcome the steps taken so far to improve the delivery of humanitarian and consumer goods to Gaza. However, the reality remains that much more needs to be done in terms of rebuilding Gaza and allowing normal commercial activity to resume. In particular, exports must be allowed to resume from Gaza; the vital work of recovery and reconstruction, which has been effectively on hold for almost two years, must be facilitated; and key infrastructural projects identified by the United Nations must be allowed to proceed.
I would also urge greater support for the invaluable work performed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and its brave and dedicated staff, on behalf of the Palestinian people. I and others who have visited Gaza in recent months, such as Secretary-General Ban and European Union High Representative Ashton, can testify to the importance of what UNRWA is doing to support the welfare of Gaza’s inhabitants and to provide them with some basis for confidence in a better future.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Manuel Salvador dos Ramos, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Communities of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.
Mr. Salvador dos Ramos (Sao Tome and Principe) (spoke in Portuguese; English text provided by the delegation): ...
Our global security is vital to the sustainable development of our countries. The international community must be cautious and aware of the risks that the Palestinian conflict could spread and endanger the entire Middle East region and ultimately international peace and security in the larger world.
Sao Tome and Principe welcomes the resumption of the dialogue on the Palestine question and encourages the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue on that course in the hope that the peoples of Israel and Palestine will live side by side in peace in the future. My country would also like to acknowledge and welcome the personal commitment of President Barack Obama to finding a permanent solution to that conflict.
The President (spoke in French): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Oldemiro Marques Balói, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Mozambique.
Mr. Balói (Mozambique): ...
Mozambique is concerned that despite all continued international efforts, it has not been possible to bring about peace and stability in the Middle East. Mozambique is deeply concerned about the volatile situation in that region, where the conflict between Israel and Palestine continues to deprive the Palestinian people of the realization of their fundamental human rights, including the right to their own land and resources and to live in peace with all neighbouring countries, including, obviously, Israel.
The President (spoke in French): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Bhim Bahadur Rawal, Minister for Home Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
Mr. Rawal (Nepal): ...
In the Middle East, we are encouraged by the recent direct dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We look forward to the success of the dialogue leading towards an independent Palestinian State alongside a secure Israel. We would like to see a peaceful resolution to disputes in the Korean peninsula through dialogue.
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.