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H. E. Mr. Shimon Peres, President

24 September 2008

Statement Summary

SHIMON PERES, President of Israel, said more than 60 years had passed since the Assembly voted on a historic resolution that would have ended the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Resolution 181 called for the creation of a Jewish and an Arab state, and the “Plan of Partition with Economic Union” had envisioned two States for two peoples, each fulfilling a distinct national aspiration.  The Jewish people adopted the resolution, and created the State of Israel.  The Arabs rejected it, and that move had led to war.

Israel had turned military victories into a peace process and reached two peace agreements, the first with the largest Arab country, Egypt, and the second with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  All the land, water and natural resources that fell in Israel’s hands through the war were repatriated after the peace agreements were sealed.  He also noted that another pressing regional need was to repair the damaged environment and land.  “If we shall not overcome the desert, the thirst, the pollution […] they will overcome us,” he said.

At the centre of the region’s violence and fanaticism stood Iran, “a danger to the entire world”.  Its quest for religious hegemony and regional dominance divided the Middle East, and held back chances of peace while undermining human rights.  Iranian support for Hizbullah had divided Lebanon, and its support for Hamas had divided Palestinians and postponed the creation of the Palestinian State.  Yesterday, in his address to the Assembly, the Iranian leader “renewed the darkest anti-Semitic libel –- the protocol of the elders of Zion”.  That despicable denial of the Holocaust was a mockery of indisputable evidence, a cynical offence to survivors of the horror, and contradictory to the resolutions adopted by the Assembly.

He said Iran continued to develop enriched uranium and long-range missiles.  The Assembly and Security Council had a responsibility to prevent agonies before they took place.

Continuing, he said terrorism stood to make the world ungovernable, and the free world needed to unite to combat it.  Israel would continue to seek peace, and had suggested immediate peace with Lebanon.  Israeli leaders had indicated to Syria that they were ready to explore a comprehensive compromise for peace, and in order to gain trust and save time, Israel had suggested face-to-face meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  Israel was waiting for a response.

While acknowledging the growing concern that Middle East peace was a distant hope, President Peres said his life-long experience gave him a different point of view.  He could identify a road in the right direction:  peace agreements; a series of summits; Israel’s acceptance of the two-State solution; and Arab nations’ backing of the peace initiative, inaugurated by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud.  He urged the Saudi leader to expand his initiative, so it could become an invitation for a comprehensive peace.  He also invited all leaders to discuss peace in Jerusalem, which was holy to all.  Israel would gladly accept an Arab invitation to meet at a designated venue, where a meaningful dialogue could take place.

Global dangers united and divided the international community at the same time.  The dangers included the deterioration of the environment, the shortage of water, the lack of renewable energy, the spread of terrorism, and increased poverty, he said.  Unity offered many alternatives and would direct global investment to new areas, including to address demanding challenges such as health, security, education and the environment.  The twenty-first century called for pioneers, and was an opportunity to provide the children with peace, knowledge, strength and friendship.  It was their children’s right and the international community’s moral obligation.

[Source: GA/10751]