Middle East situation/Palestine question – GA general debate – Verbatim record (excerpts)

Official Records


General Assembly
Sixty-third session

15th plenary meeting
Monday, 29 September 2008, 9 a.m.
New York

President: Mr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann …………………………………… (Nicaragua)


In the absence of the President, Ms. Ochir (Mongolia), Vice-President, took the Chair.



The meeting was called to order at 9.05 a.m.



Agenda item 8 (continued) 


General debate


  The Acting President : I call on His Excellency Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

  Mr. Sisoulith (Lao People’s Democratic Republic): …


  The goal of achieving peace and prosperity remains the highest priority of the international community, yet inter-State conflict, terrorism and unlawful unilateral sanctions and interventions continue to impede that goal. We are greatly distressed by the persistent conflict that has plagued the lives of the peoples of the Middle East for decades, particularly of the Palestinian people, who have been fighting to exercise their right to self-determination and Statehood.


  The Acting President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Abubakr Al-Qirbi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Yemen.

  Mr. Al-Qirbi (Yemen) (spoke in Arabic ): …


  The difficult humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people, whose rights continue to be denied and trampled by Israel, is a source of grave concern for us. Moreover, Israel’s expansionist policies of building illegal settlements on Palestinian and Syrian territories and of the racist separation wall in the West Bank, which have been condemned by the international community and the International Criminal Court, are creating further problems and placing new obstacles in the path of the peace process in the Middle East. We call on all parties, including the Quartet, to act to build a climate favourable to the restoration of trust among the parties concerned in the peace process so as to attain comprehensive and just peace.

  It is high time to put an end to the procrastination policies of Israel. We greatly deplore the fact that Israeli occupation forces are committing offences in the holy sites in Jerusalem, which are among the most sacred to Muslims. We warn the occupying Israeli forces not to persist in such measures because, besides their potential impact on the peace process, they may also have uncontrollable and unforeseeable consequences. We believe it essential to adopt resolutions without delay to provide for the protection of the holy places and religious symbols, whatever they may be, while firmly condemning any prejudice or damage that may be done to them.


  The Acting President : I now call on His Excellency Mr. Salah Bashir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

  Mr. Bashir (Jordan) (spoke in Arabic ): …


  The most important role being played by the United Nations in the Middle East region has been and remains that of the custodian of international law. On the one hand, it governs international relations and is the standard by which we measure progress made in the international community; on the other, it embodies a strong, objective approach to the maintenance of international peace and security.

  Because of our strong belief in the role of the United Nations, we view the Organization as the basic framework for finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, putting an end to the occupation of Arab lands and redressing the injustices suffered by the Palestinian people. For decades, the Arab States have taken many initiatives and made many proposals, based on international legitimacy, to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict so that the Palestinians can be liberated from Israeli occupation and can live in dignity in their own homeland.

  To that end, in 2002 the Arab States jointly submitted a comprehensive Arab Peace Initiative. It sought to end the 60-year-old conflict as well as Israel’s occupation of Arab lands — Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories — since 1967, in exchange for a comprehensive peace that would include mutual recognition between Israel and the Arab States, including the State of Palestine, and the establishment of normal relations between them. The Arab Peace Initiative was and continues to be an open and clear invitation to Israel to become part of our region without conditions or restrictions.

  While the Initiative was widely welcomed by the nations of the world and was adopted by 57 States members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Israel ignored it and began to build the wall of separation, in defiance of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, and intensified its settlement activities, which threaten its chances to make peace with the Palestinian people and the Arabs.

  The President took the Chair.

  The efforts of the Quartet are essential to move the political process forward and to find a solution that, in accordance with international legitimacy, ends the Israeli occupation, dismantles the settlements, fulfils the aspirations of the Palestinian people to establish their own State in their homeland, including East Jerusalem, and enables the refugees to return to their homes and villages, from which they were expelled in 1948.

  From this rostrum, Jordan affirms that it supports the negotiations that resumed at Annapolis and values the strategic option of peace reaffirmed in the Arab Peace Initiative and the two-State solution. At the same time, we believe that the challenges faced by the negotiations as we approach the end of the year require the international community to demand that the parties to the negotiations meet their commitments and that the Quartet make further efforts to achieve the desired results regarding final status negotiations and the fulfilment of the Road Map obligations.

  The final months of 2008 will be a critical period in the course of those negotiations. Therefore, it is imperative that Israel have the political will to resolve the ongoing conflict, after more than six decades. In addition, the Palestinian people should be supported on their own land and the Palestinian National Authority should be strengthened to help it to continue fulfilling its obligations, improving the conditions for Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories and building State institutions. That also requires Palestinians to bridge their differences against the backdrop of the Arab Peace Initiative and to promote the position of the Palestinian National Authority both on the international scene and in the context of the negotiations.

  While all parties strive to reach a final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel continues its illegal practices of seizing Arab land in order to change the demographic make-up of the occupied territories through the building of settlements and the separation wall, and changing the status of Jerusalem, in clear violation of international law, the principles of international legitimacy and the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Recent speed in building Israeli settlements threatens to erode all progress achieved so far in the peace process.

  We reject all Israeli measures that aim to create a new status quo in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in East Jerusalem, including threats to the Islamic and Arab character of the holy city. We reaffirm that Israeli violations in the holy city, and particularly in the Bab al-Magharibah area, contradict the norms of international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, The Hague Convention of 1954, as well as the July 2008 decision of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. As Jordan has played a historic role in the supervision and maintenance of Islamic holy places in Jerusalem, we call upon Israel to comply with its pledges and obligations and to put an end to those illegal practices.

  Unless there is justice for the Palestinian people, our region will be subjected to a long era of destabilization. But ours will not be the only region affected by that destabilization, because the feelings of injustice, disappointment and anger will increase as a result of stagnation in the peace process. This will fuel extremism in its various forms and manifestations and will be used as a pretext by those who would like to destabilize the region and the world beyond.


 The President (spoke in Spanish ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Giadalla A. Ettalhi, chairman of the delegation of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

  Mr. Ettalhi (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) (spoke in Arabic ): …


The Palestinian people are still suffering under the Israeli occupation, which has lasted for more than 60 years, subjecting Palestinians to the worst forms of occupation and destruction directed against civilians. The achievement of peace and stability in the area is impeded by the unjust siege imposed by the Israeli occupation forces on 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the continuation of settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territory, ignoring and deliberately breaching the principles of international humanitarian law and the principles of human rights, coupled with policies of home demolition, land confiscation, the displacement of populations and the intensification of arrests.

  Indeed, peace and stability in the area can only be attained through the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homeland and the establishment of a democratic State on the land of Palestine in which Arabs and Jews can live, enjoying full rights and obligations, as our brother, the Leader of the Revolution, proposed in his recent book.

  My country has always emphasized that there can be no comprehensive peace in the Middle East unless the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan and the Lebanese territories is ended. In this framework, we reiterate our call to the international community to demand and enforce the withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from all occupied Arab lands and to ensure that their rightful owners are compensated for damages suffered as a consequence of that occupation.


  The President (spoke in Spanish ): I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Carsten Staur, chairman of the delegation of Denmark.

   Mr. Staur (Denmark): …


  In the Middle East, in spite of continuing violence, effective regional and international diplomacy has contributed to breaking the political deadlock in Lebanon. The Palestinians and the Israeli Government are also making progress. We urge the parties to the Middle East conflict to honour road map commitments and to settle their differences in accordance with the international agreements and the Arab peace initiative. I should also like to take this opportunity to strongly condemn the unacceptable remarks made by the President of Iran calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.


The meeting rose at 1.10 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.


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