20th plenary meeting
Thursday, 22 September 2005, 10 a.m.
Mr. Jan Eliasson ……………………………………………………………………….
The meeting was called to order at 10.15 p.m.
Agenda item 9 (continued)
The President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Rodolphe Adada, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Francophonie of the Republic of the Congo.
Mr. Adada (Congo) (spoke in French ): …
In the Middle East, notwithstanding the persistence of the Israel-Palestine conflict, we welcome and encourage the efforts made over the past several months by the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Ariel Sharon, and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, which reflect a common desire to bring about a fair and lasting solution.
The President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Farouk Kasrawi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Mr. Kasrawi (Jordan) (spoke in Arabic ): …
Any real reform and development in a State is affected, positively or negatively, by the political and geographical realities of the region. The pattern of reform in Jordan and the Middle East will be more sustainable and progressive if the political settlement based on the international terms of reference of the peace process, the road map and the Arab peace initiative attains its goal of achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Jordan welcomes the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and certain settlements in the northern West Bank. We stress that this withdrawal is not an alternative to the road map but must be part of it, and that both the Israeli and Palestinian sides must carry out their respective obligations under the road map as well as the recent Sharm el-Sheikh Understandings. In that regard, we call upon Israel to withdraw its military forces from the Palestinian towns reoccupied in September 2000 and to cease all forms of settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
We also call upon Israel to cease the construction of the separation wall in the occupied Palestinian territories and to demolish the segments that have already been built in those territories. We call on it to return the property that was seized and to pay compensation for the damage incurred. The construction of the wall along its current route constitutes a clear and continuous violation of the established norms of international law, including the right to self-determination, human rights principles and the rules of international humanitarian law. That fact was emphasized by the International Court of Justice in its landmark advisory opinion on the subject.
We also urge support for the Palestinian National Authority in its genuine efforts to preserve the truce and to deal firmly with any violations of it or the ceasefire. We call upon the international community and the Quartet in particular to provide all possible assistance to the Authority. We emphasize here that the most important outcome of the road map is the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian State that is geographically contiguous, with East Jerusalem as its capital, whose borders are based on those existing before 5 June 1967.
Moreover, we must create conditions conducive to completing the peace process in order to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, on the basis of full Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, and to reach an agreed solution on the issue of the Palestinian refugees, based on General Assembly resolution 194 (III). That should lead to the establishment of normal relations between the Arab States and Israel, in accordance with the Arab peace initiative and the international terms of reference of the peace process.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan rejects all forms and manifestations of terrorism, regardless of justifications. We stand together on the front lines, in word and deed, to eradicate that scourge, which has afflicted the entire international community and left no one unscathed. My country also rejects all unjust and suspicious attempts to tie that criminal phenomenon to a specific religion, culture or geographical region, and we stand firm against any such attempt to tie it to the Islamic religion. Islam, in substance and practice, is based on moderation and facilitation. It was a pioneer in promoting the protection of human rights and safeguarding the life, dignity and property of persons. It rejects any infringement on these concepts, even in time of war. In that context, the Amman message would emphasize that this divine religion is beyond any suspicion linking its teachings to incitement to harm innocent human beings.
The President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, Minister for External Relations of the Republic of the Sudan.
Mr. Ismail (Sudan) (spoke in Arabic ): …
Tragically, the Palestinian people are still under Israeli occupation. The international community is called upon to force Israel to halt its illegal practices in the occupied Palestinian territories, to dismantle the separation wall, to withdraw from all the Arab territories that it occupied in 1967 and to allow the Palestinian people to realize their legitimate rights, including their right to an independent State, with Al-Quds as its capital. The international community should take action to bring about a comprehensive, peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy, the road map, the principle of land for peace and the Madrid terms of reference.
The Sudan has participated in agreements aimed at putting an end to nuclear proliferation. The conflict-ridden Middle East should be a zone free from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. International justice and laws should apply in that region, with no exceptions for any State, with a view to ensuring stability and peace, emphasizing the rights of peoples to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, particularly in scientific research. The Sudan supports the right of all countries, including Iran, to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, in accordance with International Atomic Energy Agency regulations.
The President: I express to the Minister for External Relations of the Sudan my best wishes for the future as he leaves his post.
I now call on Her Excellency Ms. Alcinda António de Abreu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Mozambique.
Ms. De Abreu (Mozambique): …
We are following with keen interest the latest developments in the Middle East. We continue to believe that a lasting solution to the question of Palestine — the core of the conflict in the region — must be in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions and must fully recognize the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
The President : I give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, chairman of the observer delegation of Palestine.
Mr. Al-Kidwa (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic ): Unlike the Israeli Prime Minister, who a few days ago told the Assembly that he had come to the United Nations from Jerusalem, I — a native son of the land — was not able to come here from Jerusalem, because East Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine, still remains under Israeli occupation, despite the numerous United Nations resolutions in that regard. The abnormal situation of the city, which is sacred to the three monotheistic religions, is a clear indicator that we in the Middle East are, regrettably, still far from peace. Only when East Jerusalem is returned to its people, when United Nations resolutions are completely complied with and implemented and when the leaders of both countries are able to come freely from Jerusalem, will we have truly achieved the peace that we have so long awaited.
We are now at an important juncture that could constitute the beginning of the road to peace. Israel, the occupying Power, has completed its disengagement from the Gaza Strip with its withdrawal of the settlers, its dismantlement of the settlements there and the departure of the Israeli forces from that territory. In the northern West Bank, some settlers were also withdrawn, and four settlements were dismantled.
The end of the colonial settlement of one part of our land — regardless of how small it may be — is an important development, as is the withdrawal of the occupying forces from within that part. It is an important development that resulted from the steadfastness of our people and the growing realization, locally and internationally, of the impossibility of the continuation of the status quo. We recognize that the disengagement required political boldness. But, more important than the disengagement itself, are the way in which it occurred and the context, as well as the steps that will follow. That will determine whether the disengagement will take us further towards a comprehensive settlement and peace, or whether it is actually a step imposed by the realities on the ground and intended to facilitate the continuation of the occupation, the colonization of the West Bank and the obstruction of a final settlement.
For our part, we dealt positively with those matters and exerted strenuous efforts to prepare ourselves for assuming our responsibilities, to coordinate the steps to be taken with the Israeli side and to ensure a peaceful and safe atmosphere during the implementation phase. Indeed, we achieved reasonable results in that respect. Despite that fact, however, the basic nature of the plan remains: it was unilateral and did not take into consideration Palestinian interests and positions.
Israel, the occupying Power, has left the Gaza Strip completely devastated. Over the years, Israel destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, economic capabilities and social fabric, as well as the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatus. Even the areas that had been under the control of its settlements were almost Israel, the occupying Power, has left the Gaza Strip completely devastated. Over the years, Israel destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, economic capabilities and social fabric, as well as the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatus. Even the areas that had been under the control of its settlements were almost totally destroyed by Israel when it withdrew and left behind piles of rubble, which in itself constitutes a serious problem economically, environmentally and psychologically. Another problem was that Israel left behind, and did not dismantle, what it called houses of worship — which were not supposed to be there to begin with — in total disregard of its legal obligation to return the land to its original condition prior to the occupation.
Furthermore, since the disengagement, the Gaza Strip has remained under the control of Israel, which effectively continues to control the airspace, the territorial waters and the borders, thus continuing its control of the movement of persons and goods into and out of Gaza. For that reason, and in the light of the principle of the unity and territorial integrity of the occupied Palestinian territory, the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip has not ended and the legal status of Gaza has not changed: it remains part of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.
Overall, Israel’s occupation and colonization of the Gaza Strip constitutes one of the worst injustices in recent history. In addition, it must be clear that the Gaza Strip — which comprises only 6 per cent of the area of the occupied Palestinian territory and which is the most densely populated area in the world — cannot attain economic or political sustainability in isolation from the West Bank: without a permanent link to the West Bank, without freedom of movement and without tangible political progress and similar steps taken there.
What Israel is doing in the West Bank, particularly in East Jerusalem, is cause for us to be even more pessimistic. Israel has continued its construction of the wall in disregard of the unprecedented 9 July 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and resolution ES-10/15 of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly in that regard. As everyone can see, Israel has persisted in committing this grave crime, continuing to seize Palestinian land and attempting to annex it de facto, thereby destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Palestinians, isolating them and imposing on them a totally different way of life and an unacceptable political situation.
Israel, the occupying Power, has also continued to establish and expand settlements. It has even devised the so-called E-1 plan to seize the whole of East Jerusalem and connect it to the Maale Adumim settlement, thereby severing the West Bank into two separate parts. All of the foregoing not only is unlawful and inhuman, but will also destroy any hope for a settlement and peace based on the two-State solution.
The central mission for the international community now, if we wish to safeguard the future of the Middle East and maintain the prospects for peace, is to bring about a real and complete cessation of all settlement activities and of the construction of the wall and to enforce the rule of law, the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and relevant United Nations resolutions. That must be our central mission, and whether there is political progress or not, we must accomplish it.
But then, how are we to deal with the situation and move forward? First, we need to find rapid solutions for the outstanding issues regarding the Gaza Strip, including the Rafah crossing, the airport, the seaport, the removal of rubble from the Gaza Strip, and linking Gaza to the West Bank. If we resolve those issues we may be able to change the living conditions of the Palestinians there.
Secondly, the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings should be implemented, particularly the Israeli withdrawal from cities to pre-September 2000 positions and the release of prisoners and detainees. This could bring about a new reality and begin the process of rebuilding confidence between the two sides.
Thirdly, and in parallel with the aforementioned, it is necessary to return to negotiations and begin urgently the implementation of the road map, which lies at the heart of making political progress and is the path to a resolution of the conflict. For our part, we are ready to do this, and to begin final status negotiations immediately, as called for by President Abbas in his speech a few days ago. We hope that the Quartet will use its influence to make that happen, and we also hope that the international community as a whole, represented by the United Nations, will provide the needed support in that regard.
Here we must stress the importance of the international assistance being extended to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority. We would like to express our gratitude to all donor countries for their important and considerable contributions. In that regard, I would like to express our appreciation as well for the role being played by Mr. Wolfensohn and his team, in particular for rapidly putting together an assistance programme for the Gaza Strip and for promoting economic development in the entire occupied Palestinian territory. In that regard, the importance of the Group of Eight (G-8) initiative must be emphasized, and we express our hope that all donor countries will support it.
We look forward to enjoying a dignified life like all other peoples of the world; we look forward to exercising our right to self-determination and national independence; we look forward to building our institutions and to enjoying a democratic way of life and democratic governance; we look forward to a peace based on two States, Palestine and Israel, in conformity with the 1949 Armistice Line; and we look forward to a just, agreed solution for the Palestine refugees in accordance with resolution 194 (III).
We have worked seriously to put an end to the cycle of military attacks and counter-attacks. We undertook a national dialogue that led to a unilateral declaration of ceasefire, and that ceasefire has been respected despite Israel’s obstructions and provocations. That effort has led to an improvement in the general atmosphere; it is incumbent upon both parties to strengthen it. For our part, we will continue our national dialogue with a view to establishing a permanent and mutual ceasefire in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, while reaffirming the right in principle of the Palestinian people to resist occupation and to self-defence. We must also reach a commitment by all Palestinian groups for a complete cessation of the targeting of civilians in Israel, which we have repeatedly condemned and which we view as harmful to our national interest.
Moreover, we will continue to exert efforts to impose law and order and to enhance our political system on the basis of real democracy, encompassing political pluralism and elections at all levels, including municipal and legislative elections. Israel must stop its attempts to interfere in and sabotage those elections. We will also continue to advance the development of our national institutions in various fields and will continue to try to rebuild the Palestinian economy and to improve living conditions. We must do that comprehensively throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including, of course, in the Gaza Strip, which has suffered the most extensive destruction. We shall exert our utmost efforts to achieve those goals, even though we realize that they are really the tasks of post-conflict reconstruction and that no other people has realized such goals while still under occupation.
Our achievements will inevitably be limited, since Israel, the occupying Power, still controls most aspects of everyday life in the territories. Any progress in that regard will remain directly and organically linked to the achievement of real progress in the resolution of the conflict and the achievement of a comprehensive settlement between the two parties.
It seems that Israel and some of its friends now feel that they have succeeded in imposing many illegal conditions on the ground and in creating a degree of vagueness regarding some aspects of the conflict. In that way, they feel that they have an opportunity to undermine the legal foundations of the question of Palestine, to undermine international legitimacy and to erode the neutrality of the United Nations. We, in contrast, believe that situations created illegally will not stand. We affirm that the facts are clear and indisputable, that justice and the rule of law will eventually prevail over force and that the United Nations — the embodiment of the international community — will not forsake its responsibilities and will not relent in the face of continuous violations of its resolutions.
We hope that the Israeli authorities will begin to seriously rethink their policies and positions instead of trying to market them in the United Nations and in other international forums. We hope that they will declare their respect for United Nations resolutions and their readiness to implement them, rather than blaming the United Nations for adopting those resolutions. That will be the start of the solution and the start of a final peaceful and permanent settlement, which must be based on law, international legitimacy and United Nations resolutions.
The meeting rose at 1.20 p.m.
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 C-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.