10th plenary meeting
Friday, 24 September 2004, 3 p.m.
Mr. Ping …………………………………………………………….
The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m.
Address by The Honourable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Independent State of Samoa
The President (spoke in French ): The Assembly will now hear an address by the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Independent State of Samoa.
The Honourable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Independent State of Samoa, was escorted to the rostrum.
The President (spoke in French ): I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Independent State of Samoa, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Malielegaoi (Samoa): …
Likewise, we can only pray and hope that a workable solution will be found soon for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, before many more lives are lost on both sides.
The President (spoke in French ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Jean Asselborn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Mr. Asselborn (Luxembourg) (spoke in French ): …
We must begin this genuine relaunching of multilateral cooperation first of all in the area of the maintenance of peace and security, basing our action on the United Nations Charter. While regional crises and civil wars have multiplied in various areas of the globe, in particular on the African continent over the past year, history has taught us, often tragically and painfully, that peace and stability can only be maintained and guaranteed within the framework of an international order based on the rule of law and shared strong and effective institutions based on fundamental shared values. This has been stated in our superb Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the subsequent normative instruments that supplemented it. This is also the lesson learned from the fratricidal horrors and conflicts of the past century between member States of the European Union, which now we are gratified to see expanded to 25 members.
In that context, we look with concern toward the Middle and Near East, where situations of tension and of open conflict seem to be worsening. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must emphatically recall here, given a situation characterized by numerous impasses on all sides, that the path of negotiation and compromise remains the only reasonable path and that the road map remains the only way to achieve a negotiated solution between the parties, based on the coexistence of two States, namely, an independent and viable Palestinian State, living in peace next to Israel, within secure and recognized borders. This was also vigorously reaffirmed by the Quartet the day before yesterday. In the same way, any withdrawal by Israel from the Gaza Strip must take place within the context of the political process described by the road map.
The Acting President (spoke in French ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt.
Mr. Aboul Gheit (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic ): …
The main threat to the Middle East flows from the continued acquisition by some of nuclear weapons. While we all agree on the dangers posed by those weapons and on the need to halt their proliferation as one step towards eliminating them and freeing humanity from the threat they represent, the international community continues to address the question of weapons of mass destruction selectively. While the international community seeks to impose a strict system to monitor the imports of all Member States within the non-proliferation regime — which, incidentally, includes all Arab States — it turns a blind eye to the ongoing stockpiling of nuclear capabilities by one party in the region.
I invite all to question whether it is acceptable for the threat of nuclear proliferation to continue to loom over the Middle East. I leave it to all to decide whether the international approach to the question is fair or is one of double standards; whether it is capable of addressing those dangers and threats, or whether we are in need of urgent radical change. The ongoing application of double standards will not only exacerbate the risks of nuclear proliferation and weaken the belief in the credibility and centrality of the relevant international regime, but also aggravate the tense situation in the Middle East. In order to ease that tension and to avert those dangers, in 1990 President Mubarak launched the Egyptian initiative to create a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
In the year that has elapsed between the opening of the fifty-eighth and the fifty-ninth sessions, the suffering of the Palestinian people has continued. The Palestinian people has been subject to acts of aggression and its legitimate rights have continued to be violated. The tragedies visited upon Palestinians have become a permanent item of newscasts and newspaper headlines. A new report emerges every day of the demolition of homes, the destruction of infrastructure, the targeting of unarmed civilians, assassinations, collective punishments, and the imposition of curfews and closures. There is no end in sight to such policies. All this suffering has been met by an inexplicable international silence, with the exception of some timid expression of dissatisfaction or, at best, displeasure at events unfolding there. Such responses entrench, rather than change, the situation of fait accompli.
Israel also continues to build the separation wall on Palestinian lands. The wall separates students from their schools, workers from their factories and farmers from their fields. Had Israel’s objective in the construction of the wall truly been to ensure its own security, it would have built it on its own land. The advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice declared the wall’s construction illegal and called for a halt to construction activities and for the removal of the sections already constructed. The opinion sent a strong message to the international community in general, and to Israel in particular, to the effect that the torch of justice still burns bright. It may have seemed to flicker, but it has not been extinguished. The scales of justice still prevail. They may seem to have been upset, but they have neither fallen nor been tipped.
Our region needs the construction of bridges that connect, not walls that separate. Our region needs a channel for the hopes for a promising future, not barriers that hold the region captive to the past and its tribulations. Our region needs the serious action and sincere cooperation of all in order to dislodge the political peace process from its current impasse and put it back on track.
The way out of this bloody dilemma is well known. It was laid down by the international Quartet in the road map that enjoys the support of the entire international community. The ultimate destination of that path is also well known. It was enunciated by United States President George Bush in his vision of the establishment of two independent States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security.
That is the road before us; those are its landmarks and its goals. There is neither time for waiting nor room for foot-dragging. Prompt and effective action is needed to break the cycle of violence, to restore calm and to resume the process of political negotiations. Such negotiations are the one and only way to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In that regard, Israel’s intended withdrawal from the Gaza Strip could be a significant step. If the withdrawal takes place in a rational, disciplined and orderly manner, it could enable us to begin to overcome the crisis and to put the peace process back on track. However, if it is carried out in an attitude of stubbornness and short-sightedness, it will lead only to tension and further violence.
In order to achieve the goal of an Israeli withdrawal, a number of elements must be ensured. In particular, the withdrawal must take place as an integral and clear part of the road map, and it must be full and complete. The withdrawal must include all crossing points, the seaport and the airport; otherwise, it will be just another way to impose a blockade on and confinement of the Palestinian people. A complete Israeli withdrawal means not only the departure of occupation forces from the Gaza Strip, but also an end to the policy of incursions, raids and assassinations, which must be followed by a withdrawal from all the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank.
The President (spoke in French ): I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Jan Petersen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway.
Mr. Petersen (Norway): …
While the world is waiting for a political solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the situation continues to worsen. The construction of the separation barrier and the expansion of settlements are serious threats to the two-State solution.
The Israeli plan to withdraw from Gaza and four settlements in the West Bank could be a step in the right direction if it is implemented in accordance with the road map and Security Council resolutions, and in keeping with the vision of a two-State solution.
A viable and well-functioning Palestinian Authority is critical to a peaceful solution to the conflict. The Palestinian leaders themselves must contribute by implementing reforms as set out in the road map. The Palestinian Authority has a clear responsibility to fight Palestinian terrorism.
In my capacity as Chairman of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Assistance to the Palestinian People, I am encouraged by the many statements that I have heard to the effect that the international community stands ready to assist in the implementation of the planned withdrawal. However, key issues must be addressed. Most importantly, withdrawal from Gaza must be carried out in a way that is conducive to the normalization of the Palestinian economy.
Norway, together with other partners in the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, will host a donor conference before the end of the year. I appeal to the States Members of the United Nations to support the Palestinian Authority.
The Acting President (spoke in Arabic): I now call on His Excellency Abubakr Al-Qirbi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Yemen.
Mr. Al-Qirbi (Yemen) (spoke in Arabic ): …
No one can ignore the great achievements made by our Organization in promoting peace, security and welfare over the course of its rich history. But one should, by the same token, admit that it has failed to resolve numerous conflicts that have endangered, and continue to endanger, the security and stability of many nations and peoples. Foremost among these dangers is the Arab-Israeli conflict. Certainly, the United Nations has failed to put an end to ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and to Israel’s repeated threats against Arab countries. Also, there are many trouble spots and areas of conflict across the globe that the United Nations must address effectively if we want international peace and security to prevail.
The position of the Republic of Yemen regarding the question of Palestine is abundantly clear. It is based on the principles laid out by the Quartet in the road map, and on those contained in the Arab Peace Initiative. This Initiative calls for the establishment of a State of Palestine with full sovereignty over its territory and with Jerusalem as its capital; Israel’s withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since 4 June 1967; and the return of refugees to their homes.
All along, Yemen has maintained that peace in the Middle East will elude us as long as Israel is allowed to manoeuvre and circumvent United Nations resolutions. We also believe that Israel will not accept the aforesaid solutions unless a Security Council resolution is adopted with a view to imposing a solution on Israel that includes an enforcement mechanism. Contrary to our hopes, the entire question has become even more intractable and difficult to comprehend, especially given the use of the veto power against any proposed resolution that would force Israel to implement United Nations resolutions. This has encouraged Israel to persist in constructing the racially-based separation wall, which aggravates the suffering of the Palestinian people and is taking away sizeable tracts of their remaining land, in defiance of global consensus and of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
We wish to emphasize here that, as recent events have demonstrated, the wall cannot guarantee security to Israel. Israel’s genuine security could be achieved if it were to accept the road map and commit itself to implementing relevant United Nations resolutions.
We demand that the Security Council ensure the physical safety of the Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, provide protection for the Palestinian people against Israeli state-sponsored terrorism, and show respect for the wishes and the will of the Palestinian people.
In addition, Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Syrian and Lebanese territories is an integral part of any Middle East peace initiative. I wish to recall in this regard that the Arab Peace Initiative represents an Arab consensus for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Furthermore, my Government considers inadmissible the threats that the Israeli military machine fires against sister Syria and against Iran from time to time. This represents irresponsible provocation that exacerbates the already tense situation in the region. The timing of these threats further fuels violence and frustrates peace endeavours aimed at finding a just and negotiated settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They also represent an attempt by the Israeli Government to distract attention from its failure to ensure security for its citizens. The time has come for Israel to recognize that its stability and acceptance by countries of the region will remain unfulfilled unless it implements the road map and relevant United Nations resolutions, and withdraws from the occupied Arab territories in Palestine, the Golan and the Shab’a farms.
In the same context, I wish to affirm my country’s support for United Nations efforts regarding the convening of a disarmament conference which aims, inter alia, at the establishment of the Middle East region as a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. To this end, Israel must accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Acting President (spoke in French ): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Geir Haarde, Minister for Finance and Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland.
Mr. Haarde (Iceland): …
An area of continuing concern is, of course, the Middle East. The Icelandic Government continues to call on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations on a political settlement. The road map sets out a realistic way to achieve a two-State solution. Iceland fully supports the efforts of the Quartet. We urge the Quartet and all other well-intentioned parties to continue to focus on this issue.
The meeting rose at 9.10 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.