H.E. Mr. Ahmed Maher El Sayed

Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the 
Arab Republic of Egypt

Before the 56th Session of the General Assembly

Delivered on his behalf by
Ambassador Ahmed Aboul Gheit
Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations

New York 
14 November 2001

Please Check Against Delivery

Mr. President and dear friend,

It gives me pleasure to express to you, and through you to the friendly people of Korea, my most sincere congratulations on the confidence bestowed upon you by the General Assembly which elected you as its President for the current session. Allow me to assure you of our full cooperation to ensure the success of our work. With my personal knowledge of your abilities, experience and skills, I am fully confident that our efforts will be crowned with success through the implementation of the Charter and the deepening of its contribution to the building of a better world.

Mr. President,

We gather here under extremely sensitive circumstances born from injustice and violence. We must resolutely and boldly face them so as not to allow the forces of evil to overcome the aspirations for whose realization we gather here every year. Among those circumstances which I would like to highlight here today is the continued denial of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian People, including their right to the establishment of their independent state on the territories occupied in June 1967, including east Jerusalem. Among them also are the harrowing events which took place in the United States as a result of a criminal terrorist act that took a heavy toll of innocent lives. Among these, as well, is the continued suffering of peoples from violence, poverty, under-development and injustice. We are duty bound to stand united against all these phenomena. Because the oppression of a people is an oppression of the peoples entire, the killing of a soul is to kill the world entire, a child going to bed hungry is hunger for the world entire and the demolition of a home is to condemn the whole of humanity to sleep in the wilderness deprived of the shelter of legitimacy and law.

Mr. President

The events of the 11th of September in the United Sates were not the beginning of terrorism. We have suffered from terrorism for many years. Alone we stood combating it and overcoming the obstacles placed by some, deliberately or unwittingly, in the path of our struggle until we vanquished it. The tragic events of September 11th put the whole question in the focus of international concern. This was reflected in a determined international consensus to deal not only with the manifestations of terrorism but also with its root causes. There is also a consensus to address terrorism in the framework of international legality as represented by this great organization with the use of a whole range of actions. These actions include legislation, police action and the dissemination of enlightened thought. They also include a constant search for justice, truth and development. For the battle against terrorism to be successful, it must extend to all aspects of life: political, economic, social, cultural and in the field of security. A search for the root causes is not a justification but a diagnosis. A disease cannot be cured by dealing with the symptoms alone but rather there is always a need for analysis and a thorough investigation of the germs which spew their venom in the hearts, souls and bodies. Discovering the germ is the path for effective treatment.

No germ is more lethal to the future of humanity than that of poverty. In this regard, we look forward to the forthcoming UN conference on Financing for Development; we hope that it will result in a new international consensus on an international economic framework that serves the, interests of all states, developed and developing alike. We also hope that it will create a new spirit of constructive international partnership among all the members of the international community. This partnership should seek to eliminate the imbalances of globalization, to maximize the opportunity for all to benefit from it and to achieve prosperity and political and economic stability.

In this context, I would like to highlight the new initiative adopted by the African leaders in their recent summit in Lusaka to combat poverty and build a brighter future for the peoples of the continent, namely "the New Partnership for Development in Africa". This initiative reflects a clear understanding of the spirit of our times. It reflects a recognition by the peoples of Africa of the reality that they bear the primary responsibility for drafting their future, and eliminating the political, social and economic obstacles before them. We look forward to the international community providing the necessary backing and support for this constructive collective action so as to ensure the success of the efforts for development, stability and prosperity in Africa.

Mr. President,

At the same time it is also important to prevent these germs from spreading another disease; the so-called clash of civilizations and religions which could undermine all the progress made by humanity towards constructive interaction and coexistence.

Therefore, we call for the convening of an International Conference to lay the foundation for cooperation among all states against terrorism. It should define the obligations from which there can be no deviation. It should chart the path towards the complete elimination of this anathema. It is incompatible with the right of all peoples to live in an atmosphere of security, equality and justice that will enable all to build the edifices of prosperity and progress.

We also call for a genuine dialogue among civilizations that would turn diversity into a constructive force of mutual enrichment and enlightenment. This dialogue should spare us all the surrender to the forces of barbarism, which wish to fabricate a clash where there is none or a conflict where there is none. There is only a single unified march towards a better world. Differences will not disappear in that better world. What will disappear is the rejection, the humiliation or the persecution of the other on the grounds of religion, race or gender. This is the true sense of globalization which we mush uphold. It must be an expression of the interdependence among the peoples and countries of the world, the exchange of human experiences and economic and technological potential. Globalization means dealing with the changing world in a spirit of understanding that doesn't attempt to impose or control. A spirit that does not claim absolute superiority or attempt to impose hegemony under any pretext. With this spirit will emerge in the international life a democracy that encompasses all. All states, big and small, will make their contribution to the global advancement through their implementation of the principles adopted by the world after the painful experiences of war and destruction.

Mr. President,

This leads me to a worrisome phenomenon that increased in magnitude after the tragic events of September 11th, namely the attempt to associate the charges of terrorism and backwardness with Islam and its resultant persecution of Arabs and Muslims. This attempt can only be the result of ignorance and blind prejudice. Islam is a religion based on truth, justice, and the respect for human rights, particularly the right to life and to be rid of poverty, ignorance and disease. In Islam, man has the duty to interact with others through understanding and mutual respect. I commend the governments, including the US government, which took measures to put an end to these heinous practices of the dark ages. Nevertheless, there is much more that needs to be done by us all to clarify the truth and dispel the darkness of ignorance and arrogance. Thus all will know that human progress and knowledge is a river that has not stopped flowing since the dawn of history. Every civilization has been a beneficiary from and the tributary to the achievements of other cultures. The Arab Islamic civilization, as well as the Christian and Pharaohnic ones, have all made contributions that live with us until this very day. Without those contributions the world would not have been able to reach its current level of progress. Had it not been for those contributions, the backward forces of darkness would not have been reined in.

Mr. President,

I am standing before this august Assembly at the end of the first year of the third millenium, ten years after the Madrid Conference which reaffirmed the basis for the Middle East settlement, yet the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Question of Palestine at its core, continues without a just and comprehensive settlement. This is truly hard to believe.

It is most regrettable that the Syrian and Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 and the remainder of the Lebanese territory continue to languish under the heavy yoke of Israeli occupation. That occupation continues to cause injustice, destruction, frustration and anger. It continues its refusal to comply with the terms of international legitimacy. It continues to defy the will of the world. This unjust situation takes us back to a dark age that the United Nations was established to end. This unjust situation creates suffering and agony for a people whose only crime is to demand their rights. It also creates an unhealthy climate exploited by those who wish to fish in troubled waters in order to propagate the darkness, the misery, the chaos and the pain.

The international and regional situation, in addition to the humanitarian and legal requirements as well as the interests of all peoples, can no longer tolerate the continued occupation, usurpation and settlement by Israel of the territories of others. They can no longer tolerate an army of hateful occupation using the most sophisticated and lethal weapons to brutalize unarmed civilians, to demolish their homes and uproot their trees. All these actions are executed under the false pretext that disguises the fact that this army is only defending the occupation of the land of another people, namely the people of Palestine.

Likewise, the international situation can no longer bear the audacious declaration of an occupying power that it will not return the land it seized, and that if it returns some of it that it will do so under unfair conditions. Equally untenable is its position that peace can only mean its hegemony and control in one way or the other. The announcement by a Government of official decisions that it will resort to a policy of targeted killings is also unacceptable.

Like all nations and peoples, Israel must realize that the world has changed. It must also realize that it is in its own interest to comply with the international will. The only guarantee for the security of Israel and of the whole region is for Israel to put an end to its occupation, policies and practices and to coexist with the peoples of the region on the basis of equality, understanding and respect for international legality and the United Nations' resolutions. Security can not be achieved with continued occupation. Peace is incompatible with the doctrines of hegemony and superiority. Only free cooperation can ensure prosperity for all.

Sometimes I feel that while the Arabs have accepted Israel's existence among them, Israel has not yet accepted the existence of a Palestinian people in the land of their ancestors with the right to live in a sovereign independent state with Arab Jerusalem as its capital. No Arab, Muslim or Christian can abandon their holy sites in Jerusalem. Those sites are constantly threatened by the attempts to desecrate or destroy them by the Israeli extremists, with the support of those ostensibly less extreme.

Mr. President,

The political settlement of the Question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, requires the following:


A clear Israeli will to desist from is continued occupation of the Arab land as an alleged means to maintain its security. Israel needs to understand that its position in the Middle East will not witness any real improvement until it evinces the will to return to the borders of the 4th of June 1967.


Israel must realize that any peaceful settlement of the Question of Palestine requires the return of East Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty. Failure to understand this fact will always constitute an obstacle to all the peaceful efforts for the establishment of peace in the Middle East.


Any political or security arrangements for the settlement of the Palestinian Question must lead to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state exercising sovereignty over its land, water and airspace. There must be a just settlement, based on United Nations resolutions and the norms of justice and legitimacy, of the oldest refugee problem in modern history, namely that of the Palestinian refugees.


Egypt does not accept a situation in which Israel remains the sole nuclear power in the Middle East. The Middle East must be a zone free from weapons of mass destruction. The countries of the world, particularly the five nuclear weapon states, must discharge their responsibility under the international nonproliferation instruments.

When such conditions prevail and are supported by the world's nations - including the friends of Israel - forcefully and decisively because they are just and rightful .... then the painful chapters of this long lasting conflict can be closed. Only then will it be possible to raise new generations to live in peace and tolerance instead of living in the frustration, violence and hatred born from the illegal unjust occupation. I can not fail to refer to the central and important role of the United States to assist the parties to reach a final and just settlement. Egypt views with satisfaction the resumption of the active role of the United States. Egypt also welcomes the role of the European Union, the Russian Federation and the indispensable role of the United Nations for the establishment of the just, lasting and comprehensive peace in our region. Egypt will continue to play its role in support of the brotherly Palestinian people and on the side of justice and legitimacy.

The part of the world, located in the area from West Asia to the Southern shores of the Mediterranean, needs peace in order to achieve the objective of social, economic and political development. For that to be attained, there is a need for a swift achievement of that just settlement. Undoubtedly, the international community in its entirety will support such a settlement, which will also require the presentation of an integrated and major economic program that would provide economic capabilities that unleashes the creative potential of the region, opens the door for constructive cooperation among all its peoples, and helps it overcome the tragedies it has lived through for more than a whole century.

Mr. President

If the time does not allow for addressing all the problems facing the world, than it will suffice for me to reaffirm that Egypt will maintain its eagerness and continue its efforts to uphold the noble principles that the Charter of this great organization enshrines in a manner that serves the goals and aspirations of all peoples. We assure you that we will continue with our effective participation and enhance our active contribution in the collective action that guarantees for the United Nations the needed capacities and tools that enable it to undertake the grand responsibilities that we, the Member States, mandate it with as well as confront the multiple challenges that the changing nature of the world we are living in.

Thank you Mr. President.