MR. JEAN OBEID
FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND EMIGRANTS OF
58th SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24,
Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations
866 United Nations Plaza,, Suite 531,
New York, New York 10017
This large number of Heads of State and Government has
assembled at the current session not for the sake of performing formal
rituals, nor from a commitment to respect periodic agendas. Rather,
it is the state of the world today which requires this exceptional
gathering, because, in the global consciousness, the struggle is heightening
between fear and hope, security and instability, force and weakness,
surplus and need, abundance and hunger, and freedom and coercion.
A return to this Assembly is tantamount
to a return to origins and sources, and to common sense and basics,
after today's world has strayed to the point of almost losing itself,
as well as losing its founding principles.
We return to this Mother Organization
like sons in different conditions and states. Some are obedient or
renegade; some are oppressor or oppressed. This Organization, like
its sons, was wounded by some of them.
What hurts the United Nations hurts
us all. Its fallen victims are, indeed, martyrs of humanity. This
was the case of Count Folke Bernadotte, Dag Hammarskjold, Sergio de
Mello, and others who were worthy of this noble martyrdom for the
sake of our distinguished Organization and its lofty ideals.
In the consciousness and hope of
the world, the United Nations is not only a haven that upholds the
rights of the weak and the needy, but also a dissuasive authority
against the strong who act aggressively and forget their obligations
In our region and in our country,
we have been and still are suffering from this double standard of
resorting to might at the expense of right.
Deviation from the spirit and raison
d'étre of the international Organization remains the source of repeated
wars and injustices, ever since the foundation, on the ruins of the
people of Palestine, of an entity that does not recognize either its
own borders, or those of others.
The international effort in
Madrid to find a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict adopted
comprehensive and just approaches, resulting in principles and accomplishments
that cannot be renounced or reversed. Partial approaches emerged,
but failed to achieve peace, maintain security, and ensure stability.
It has become certain to everyone,
except to the arrogant in Israel, that there can be no security without
a political solution, and no partial, peaceful, political solution
without the comprehensive peace that embodies the spirit of the Madrid
Conference and the integrated Arab peace initiative of the Arab Summit
Such a solution is based on the
relevant international resolutions which return to Lebanon the remaining
territory still under Israeli occupation, including Shebaa Farms;
which return to Syria its territory up to the line of 4 June 1967;
and which allow the Palestinian refugees to exercise their legal,
humanitarian, and moral right of return to their homeland. Such a
process should ensure the establishment of a sovereign, independent,
stable, and viable Palestinian state with al-Quds al-Sharif as its
Developments on the ground, however,
run contrary to hope. In fact, the government of Israel continues
to build settlements, take decisions to carry out extrajudicial killings
of men, women, and children, to demolish houses, and carry out preemptive
arrests and assassinations.
Similar to events in Palestine,
Lebanon suffers- from persistent Israeli threats, aggressions, and
violations by sea, by land, and by air, which are carried out in a
provocative and dramatic manner as described by the Secretary-General
and his Special Representative in the region. The international community
should therefore pressure Israel to end these violations.
Lebanese detainees and prisoners
are still held hostage illegally and without trial in Israel, which
still keeps the remaining maps of landmines it planted during its
occupation of South Lebanon. Furthermore, Israel continues its policy
of assassination and still covets Lebanon's waters and natural resources.
I must warn that the failure to
exercise the Palestinian refugees' right of return and to implement
it fully puts the entire Middle East in an explosive situation. The
Government and people of Lebanon are especially eager to implement
this right, which they consider to be legal, natural, and moral.
Therefore, the so-called "realistic
solutions" to this problem should not even be raised, since they
are contrary to the principles of international law and the spirit
Indeed, the commitment to the right
of return and the refusal to resettle the refugees in Lebanon are
at the core of the Lebanese consensus that put an end to the war in
Lebanon and that resulted in the Taef Accord endorsed by the United
In this context, I wish to stress
that these options and positions regarding Lebanon and the Middle
East conflict are not circumstantial ones that change according to
the balance of power. We believe that these options are righteous,
moral, and consistent with the requirements of a just peace. These
options are the only ones capable of bringing about a possible settlement
to the Arab-Israeli conflict that would be satisfactory, lasting,
Such an undertaking is compatible
with the goals of the United Nations, as it strives to strengthen
its role, with the endeavors of the co-sponsors of the peace process,
and with the role of the European Union.
It is in Israel's interest to revert
to or to be reverted to the language of reason and justice. Since
Israel's governments have failed to do so, this responsibility weighs
on the international community.
For in Israel, there is a government
that reads from the book of rights, but fails to read from the book
of obligations. And we believe that the most dangerous people are
those who read from one book only, whichever book it is.
Under the pretext of security,
the government in Israel persists in building a wall of separation
from the people of Palestine and attempts to build a higher, larger,
and more hostile wall between the greater nations of the West and
the rest of the world, especially the Arab and the Muslim world, in
a bid to serve and support those willing to fuel a conflict between
East and West, between Christianity and Islam, and among religions,
cultures, and civilizations - when, in fact, there is only one human
civilization which stems from common spiritual values, and from the
belief in only one God, no matter how varied the means to Him and
how numerous His messengers.
Furthermore, the government of
Israel resorts to the stick daily as a means of subjugation. It ignores,
or pretends to ignore, that the use of the stick incites disobedience;
that, with time, the oppressors and the oppressed often exchange roles
and positions; and that many who were once at the helm at various
stages of their lives have fallen into the depths of oblivion and
faded from memory, forgetting that only God is everlasting, as are
the universal principles of equality, fairness, and justice.
In the government of Israel, there
are those who were brought to power by the very extremism which ousted
a predecessor and which assassinated another, and which, nevertheless,
does not hesitate to label and accuse Arabs and Muslims exclusively
And in Israel, there are those
who insist on making Israel a fortress over the region, rather than
a state in the region. There are those who make life for the Palestinians
worse than death, determined to make their own people die with the
Arabs in war, rather than live with them in peace.
And in the government of Israel,
there are those who try to ignore that Lebanon, Syria, and the right
of return are a mandatory path towards a settlement and towards a
just, lasting, and comprehensive peace. On the contrary, they hopelessly
use the feeble-minded to fan the flames of conflict among the Palestinians
themselves, among the Lebanese, between the Lebanese and the Syrians,
and among the Arabs, instead of extinguishing the flames of conflict
between the Arabs and Israelis in a decent, just, and comprehensive
The government of Israel considers
that gaining time is more important than gaining peace; that manipulating
tracks and problems is better than solving all the problems of the
conflict on all the tracks; and that intimidation could right wrongs,
wrong rights, and turn occupation into independence.
In Israel, there is a government
that insists on clinging to the absolute sovereignty of Israel, as
well as violating or sharing the sovereignty of others; a government
that confines the role of its most important ally to
providing money and weaponry, denying it even the right to advise.
If the world's Super Power utters a word of advice regarding the construction
of the wall of separation and discrimination, this advice is ignored,
and the construction of the wall continues.
Leniency towards faults breeds
guilt. Much of the confusion of standards and yardsticks is caused
by the use of more than one measure when it comes to justice and international
It is neither just, nor wise, nor
safe, nor peaceful for the powerful states to continue to tolerate
double standards and criteria and multiple measures when dealing with
Israel, while using firm standards and measures when dealing with
the weak, the oppressed, and other nations of the world.
This state of affairs obviously
leads us to call for the reform and strengthening of the United Nations,
notably by reviewing the mechanisms of the functioning of the Security
Council, by expanding its membership, by giving it more weight in
decision-making, and by respecting the democratic, consultative nature
which should form the foundation of our international Organization.
Such a reform fairly and effectively
addresses the new challenges facing the security and safety of the
world. It also provides balance and stability in international relations,
especially when coupled with the modernization of the work of the
UN organs, as well as the rationalization and avoidance of the excessive
use of the right to veto in a way that obstructs law and justice throughout
In Iraq, there is an increasing
call for a pivotal role for the United Nations to assist the the people
of Iraq in preserving their unity, assuming their destiny, ending
the occupation of their territory, establishing the means to administer
their wealth, choosing the provisions of their constitution, and electing
their representatives freely.
War from the air can be waged by
one side alone, while peace on the ground can only be accomplished
through consultations with the parties in Iraq, its neighbors, and
the United Nations.
The peace and destiny of Iraq require
that Iraqis be free from occupation as soon as possible, working under
the auspices of the United Nations in an expanded, pivotal, and political
role, not restricted to purely social matters.
The events, the tragedies, and
the appeals of the people of Iraq fall in this direction. Only the
ignorant, or those who pretend to be ignorant, refuse to listen, to
draw lessons, and to reach conclusions before it is too late.
The beginning of this century has
been marked by violence and terrorism, which showed their ugliest
manifestations in the tragedies and crimes of September 11 and in
the ensuing calls for extremism and a clash of civilizations. These
circumstances prompt us to refuse to yield to the worst evils that
threaten the peace and unity of our planet.
Lebanon was among the first countries
to be targeted by terrorism, carried out by fundamentalist groups,
and fought it with courage and resolve. At the same time, Lebanon
still faces the state terrorism practiced by Israel, which has caused
the death, injury, and displacement of thousands of Lebanese and the
destruction of vital facilities and infrastructures.
While we differentiate between
terrorism and the right of peoples whose territories are occupied
to resist and to liberate their land, within the confines of international
resolutions and the United Nations Charter, our country explicitly
and firmly condemns all forms of terrorism, since it constitutes a
danger that threatens all mankind, without distinction between race,
color, or religion. Furthermore, Lebanon reaffirms its commitment
to continue to cooperate with the international community to fight
this extensively harmful and extremely damaging scourge.
In conclusion, I would be remiss
if I failed to congratulate you on your election as President of our
General Assembly and wish you success in your stewardship. I also
wish to commend the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, for his tireless
efforts to promote every opportunity for peace, stability, and development
in the world. I would like further to pay tribute to the United Nations
Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for its role in South Lebanon. It
is my hope, now that Lebanon has been able to liberate the major part
of its territory, that UNIFIL will fulfill the remaining part of the
mandate entrusted to it, and as defined in Security Council Resolution
Lebanon has been and always will
be a country that rejects seclusion and rigidity and that will remain
open to dialogue and to creative, rich, civilized, and human interaction.
Our country will always be true to its message, and, despite the challenges,
will remain eager to promote justice and the rule of law, in word
and deed, and to uphold the values of freedom and democracy, which
constitute, since the beginning, the very bases of Lebanon and our
Thank you, Mr. President.