11th plenary meeting
Thursday, 23 September 2010, 9 a.m.
Mr. Deiss ……………………………………………………………..
The President (spoke in French): For my introductory remarks, I have chosen the theme “A strong, inclusive and open United Nations as the guarantor of global governance”.
As we open the general debate of the sixty-fifth session, we already have a week of intensive work behind us. I would like to thank the General Assembly for its contribution to the success of the High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals. By reaffirming its determination to overcome poverty and suffering throughout the world, the international community that you here represent has sent a strong message to the whole of humankind.
Mr. Amorim (spoke in Portuguese; English text provided by the delegation): …
We are closely following developments in the peace process in the Middle East. We hope the direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis launched earlier this month will produce concrete results that lead to the creation of a Palestinian State within the pre-1967 borders, a State that ensures for the Palestinian people a dignified life, co-existing side by side and in peace with the State of Israel.
However, it is not the format of the dialogue that will determine whether it will yield results. What matters is the willingness of the parties to reach a just and lasting peace. That will be easier with the involvement of all those concerned. Freezing the construction of settlements in the occupied territories, lifting the Gaza blockade and ending attacks against civilian populations are crucial elements in the process.
In his visit to Israel, Palestine and Jordan in March, President Lula spoke with government leaders and representatives of civil society about those issues. We frequently receive in Brasilia the leaders of various countries of the region, who seek support in resolving problems that have afflicted them for decades and have not been solved through the traditional means and actors. Brazil, which has about 10 million people of Arab descent and a sizeable Jewish community living together in harmony, will not shy away from making its contribution to the peace that we all yearn for.
The President (spoke in French): On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Obama: …
Amidst this upheaval, we have also been persistent in our pursuit of peace. Last year, I pledged my best efforts to support the goal of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as part of a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its neighbours. We have travelled a winding road over the last 12 months, with few peaks and many valleys. But this month I am pleased that we have pursued direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington, Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem.
Now I recognize that many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that Israelis and Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too divided internally, to forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides will try to disrupt the process with bitter words and with bombs and gunfire. Some say that the gaps between the parties are too big; the potential for talks to break down is too great; and that after decades of failure peace is simply not possible.
I hear those voices of scepticism. But I ask the Assembly to consider the alternative. If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own State. Israelis will never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable neighbours who are committed to coexistence. The hard realities of demography will take over. More blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our differences, instead of our common humanity.
I refuse to accept that future. We all have a choice to make. Each of us must choose the path of peace. Of course, that responsibility begins with the parties themselves, who must answer the call of history. Earlier this month, at the White House, I was struck by the words of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both peoples to live in peace, security and dignity”. President Abbas said, “We will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure these negotiations achieve their cause”.
These words must now be followed by action, and I believe that both leaders have the courage to do so. But the road that they have to travel is exceedingly difficult, which is why I call upon Israelis and Palestinians — and the world — to rally behind the goal that these leaders now share.
We know that there will be tests along the way, and that one test is fast approaching. Israel’s settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground and improved the atmosphere for talks.
And our position on this issue is well known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended. We also believe that talks should press on until completed. Now is the time for the parties to help each other overcome this obstacle. Now is the time to build the trust — and provide the time — for substantial progress to be made. Now is the time for this opportunity to be seized, so that it does not slip away.
Now, peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but we each have a responsibility to do our part as well. Those of us who are friends of Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish State requires an independent Palestine — one that allows the Palestinian people to live with dignity and opportunity. And those of us who are friends of the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian people will be won only through peaceful means — including genuine reconciliation with a secure Israel.
I know many in this Hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. These pledges of friendship must now be supported by deeds. Those who have signed on to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it real by taking tangible steps towards the normalization that it promises Israel.
And those who speak on behalf of Palestinian self-government should help the Palestinian Authority politically and financially, and in doing so help the Palestinians build the institutions of their State.
Those who long to see an independent Palestine must also stop trying to tear down Israel. After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange land. After 60 years in the community of nations, Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate.
Israel is a sovereign State, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. Efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people. The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance; it is injustice. And make no mistake: the courage of a man like President Abbas, who stands up for his people in front of the world under very difficult circumstances, is far greater than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.
The conflict between Israelis and Arabs is as old as the United Nations. And we can come back here next year, as we have for the last 60 years, and make long speeches about it. We can read familiar lists of grievances. We can table the same resolutions. We can further empower the forces of rejectionism and hate. And we can waste more time by carrying forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian child achieve a better life. We can do that.
Or we can say that this time will be different — that this time we will not let terror or turbulence or posturing or petty politics stand in the way. This time we will think, not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire.
This time we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that lie at the heart of the three great religions that see Jerusalem’s soil as sacred. This time we should reach for what is best within ourselves. If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new State Member of the United Nations — an independent, sovereign State of Palestine living in peace with Israel.
The Acting President (spoke in French): On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Rajapaksa: …
Among the political issues that have continued to fester for too long is the continued denial of the right of the Palestinian people to a State of their own within recognized and secure borders. It is the fervent hope of the people of Sri Lanka that this most tragic of situations will be resolved without delay and in a sustainable manner. We also hope that Palestine will be a Member of the Organization by this time next year.
The President (spoke in French): On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Abdullah Gül, President of the Republic of Turkey, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Gül: …
On the political side of our agenda, there is no shortage of enduring regional issues. Because of time constraints, I will touch only briefly on some of them here.
Permanent peace in the Middle East is the key to a peaceful and stable future for the world. Unfortunately, the absence of peace there has had serious and adverse strategic consequences for the rest of the world. Turkey has therefore always supported every effort aimed at reaching a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. In this understanding, we appreciate President Obama’s efforts and welcome the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. We hope that this new engagement can take us closer to a viable and fair settlement.
On the other hand, it will be very difficult to make progress towards permanent peace unless we put an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza. In this context, the attack in May of the Israeli armed forces on the international humanitarian aid convoy on the high seas resulted in grave civilian casualties and was an unacceptable act, in clear violation of international law. In the light of international law, Turkey expects a formal apology and compensation for the aggrieved families of the victims and the injured people.
Therefore, we attach particular importance to the work of the panel of inquiry and the fact-finding mission. We are pleased to have received the report (A/HRC/15/21) of the fact-finding mission established by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report offers a solid legal framework for establishing the facts of the incident. We also look forward to the successful completion of the work of the panel.
The Acting President (spoke in French): On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
Sheikh Al-Thani (spoke in Arabic): …
The strategic importance of the Arabian Gulf region stems from its geostrategic position and the fact that it is sitting on half of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves and is the source of one quarter of the world’s production of these two primary driving forces of the global economy. Let this be yet another consideration that prompts the international community to recognize the importance of achieving political stability and security in the Middle East. This is a difficult goal that can only be achieved by renouncing the use of force, freeing the region of weapons of mass destruction, without exception, and settling bilateral disputes and regional conflicts on the basis of international law, the United Nations Charter, the resolutions of international legitimacy and the principles of justice and equity.
Israel’s persistence in violating international law and humanitarian values was reflected in the acts of piracy committed against peace activists who tried to break the unjust and inhuman siege imposed on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. This prompts us again to call upon the international community to stand as one in demanding that Israel lift the blockade immediately and fully.
We are now at a historic juncture in the process of the settlement of the question of Palestine. For everyone should realize that the Arab countries will not accept the peace that Israel wants to impose as it pleases and outside international legitimacy. A lasting, acceptable and secure peace must guarantee the rights of the Palestinian people, especially the establishment of a Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital.
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 U-506. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.