Press Releases

    GA/9986
    3 December 2001

    DESPITE YEAR OF SETBACKS, PATH TO MIDDLE EAST
    PEACE REMAINS OPEN, ISRAELI REPRESENTATIVE
    TELLS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

    Calls for "Dark Forces of Rejection" to Be Set Aside; Others Stress
    Need for End to Israeli Settlement Policies, Occupation of Arab Territories

    NEW YORK, 30 November (UN Headquarters) -- While the past year had been a tremendous and heart-wrenching setback, the path forward to all the peoples of the Middle East was open, Israel’s representative told the General Assembly this afternoon as the Assembly continued its consideration of the situation in the Middle East.

    He said that 50 years after Israel was established, however, and despite greater strides in integrating with its neighbours, certain regimes continued to cultivate "the dark forces of rejection". Israel had withdrawn its forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000 and had asked that country to deploy its armed forces up to an agreed line. Instead, Lebanon was handing the area over to control of the Hezbollah, who were noted terrorists.

    He said Israel’s vision of peace was one of clearly defined borders to eliminate territorial disputes, of a regional security framework to curb the threat posed by extremists, of a future in which the lives of all people in the region improved because of an open door to economic growth and foreign investment. Terrorism stood in the way of that vision.

    The representative of Lebanon said he could not see any Israeli policy in the future that would aim at a just and comprehensive solution to end the conflict in the Middle East. His country still suffered Israeli aggression through violations to its airspace and territorial water, and Israel still kept Lebanese hostages in its prisons -– some of them for 25 years without trials. Israel had also left thousands of landmines in Lebanon, which had killed and wounded many, but still refused to provide all of its landmine maps.

    The representative of Togo said the Security Council had not lived up to its role as the protector of international peace and security. Its inertia had been displayed to all in March of 2001 when it was unable to adopt a draft resolution, put before it on the suggestion by the Non-Aligned Movement, to send an observer mission to the region. A restoration of the climate of confidence was needed.

    The representative of Australia said the proliferation in the region of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles was a major concern. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons provided a solid foundation for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. His country had called on Israel, as well as on Cuba, India and Pakistan, to join the Treaty as soon as possible. He also urged all States in the Middle East to take effective legal measures to combat the threat of terrorism, including becoming parties to the relevant international instruments, denying safe haven to terrorists, and implementing national measures to prevent its financing.

    Echoing many speakers in the debate, the representative of Brunei Darussalam said it was encouraging to note that the international community had unequivocally pronounced its support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. In that regard, he welcomed the statement made by President Bush in support of the establishment of a Palestinian State.

    Also addressing the Assembly were the representatives of the Russian Federation, Oman, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Pakistan, Argentina, Chile, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bahrain and Ukraine.

    The representatives of Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Israel exercised their right of reply.

    The General Assembly will meet again Monday, 3 December, at 10 a.m. to conclude its consideration of the situation in the Middle East and the Question of Palestine.

    Background

    The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its consideration of the situation in the Middle East. (For background information, see Press Release GA/9985 of today’s date.)

    Statements

    JURY FEDOTOV (Russian Federation) said that the situation in the Middle East remained in deep crisis. Almost every day, the population faced terrorist acts followed by reprisals. Destabilization had worsened in the Palestinian territories and the region as a whole, and the peace process had been reduced to naught.

    An important impetus was given to the peace process when the heads of the Russian Federation, the United States and the Secretary-General of the United Nations met recently in New York. At the conclusion of those talks, they issued a joint statement on the Middle East. The basic recommendation from that was that the peace process should be focused on the immediate launching of agreements already in place and implementation of the Mitchell Report.

    The leadership of Palestine should halt acts of extremism and Israel should cease its occupation of Palestine. Without those actions, it would be impossible to take further steps towards peace. A firm settlement in the area should mean a halt to occupation, the creation of a Palestinian State, and the provision of equal and firm security for both Israel and Palestine. Solutions were also needed for the problems of Jerusalem as well as refugees. The terrorist attacks on 11 September in the United States had made the need for a peace settlement in the region more vital than ever. But that would not be possible without a comprehensive settlement in the area.

    MOHAMMED ABDULLAH SALIM AL-SAMEEN (Oman) said the peace process that had begun in 1991 in Madrid was still the most important step forward. The outcome there had reflected the wishes of all parties involved. In the wake of that accord, his country had given its support to other initiatives, such as the Camp David talks. All those were measures to stop the spilling of blood. Further, Oman had supported all peace ventures and had opened trade with Israel. It was a very positive period during the early 1990s. Then Israel became contrary and reversed its position on decisions already taken.

    It was clear that Israel’s Mr. Sharon did not intend to achieve peace in the region, he said. Israel’s actions under his leadership were evidence of that. The Arab-Israeli conflict had involved a number of frontiers over the past 50 years, including psychological borders. The original resolution on the question for the region had called for a severing of the British hold on the territory by creating two States, Israel and Palestine. Resolutions since that time had reaffirmed the spirit of that first decision, based on the principle of land for peace. In their due time, other resolutions had called for appropriate actions, such as the return of lands taken unjustly in the Syrian Golan and Lebanon. Peace must be achieved, but that could not be brought about at the sacrifice of other people, including the Palestinians.

    STEPHANE DE LOECKER (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Iceland, said the search for peace was primarily a matter for the parties themselves, through negotiations on all components of the final status, including the prospect of a just and viable solution of the issues of Jerusalem and refugees, as well as economic support for the Palestinian population. He called on the Israeli and Palestinian sides to ensure full, immediate and unqualified implementation, without preconditions, of the recommendations of the Mitchell report and the Tenet plan.

    Israel’s withdrawal from the south of Lebanon last year, in line with Security Council resolution 425, was a major development, he said. He commended the successive steps helping to restore stability in that area as a necessary condition for reconstruction and development. It was essential for the Lebanese Government, in accordance with Council resolution 1365, to take stronger measures to re-establish its authority in practice throughout the south. The parties must continue to honour their commitment to observe scrupulously the withdrawal line mapped out by the United Nations, show the utmost restraint and cooperate fully with the Unite Nations and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). He reiterated that the search for a comprehensive, lasting peace in the region required due account to be taken of the Israeli/Syrian and Israeli/Lebanese tracks in the conflict, whose resolution must be based on the Madrid Conference, particularly that of land for peace, and Council resolutions 242 and 338.

    The European Union believed in respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States in the region. It regarded the establishment of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights as illegal and in breach of international law. The European Union was resolved to work for the reactivation of the multilateral track of the peace process as soon as conditions were right. It attached particular importance to the economic and regional development working group, for which it acted as coordinator. The Euro-Mediterranean Conference recently held in Brussels had once again shown the attachment of all partners to the Barcelona process as a key, prime forum for dialogue and cooperation between the European Union and the countries on the southern and eastern sides of the Mediterranean.

    SHAMSAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said that he remembered standing at the same podium a year ago, expressing hopes and fears about the Middle East. Instead of beginning a new century with the promise of peace, the world had seen the region slide into a cycle of violence which had claimed hundreds of lives. Today, the glimmer of hope for the peace process had been overshadowed with uncertainty. He shared the concern of the international community regarding Israel’s use of excessive force and discriminate violence and extrajudicial killings. He added that the unwarranted seizure of offices in key Palestinian cities had gravely undermined the peace process. The economic blockade had undermined the Palestinian economy, which had been even further damaged by the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure.

    Regrettably, it was the international community’s inability to tackle the problem at its roots, in Palestine and elsewhere, which perpetuated such conflicts. The remedy was clear: the international community must remove what perpetuated conflicts. At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson had said that national aspirations must be respected and that peoples might be governed only by their consent. That pronouncement still held true. Occupation in all its forms and manifestations must be condemned by the international community. Offers of dialogue must not be left to the generosity of the occupying Power. The international community must play its due role in such a dialogue to ensure a just and durable peace.

    Efforts must be made to bring an end to the coercive measures used by Israel, which contradicted the Oslo accord. Peace could not be achieved by binding the weaker party to agreements, while letting the stronger Power have a free hand. Both sides must adhere to the agreements and accords signed. Pakistan unequivocally supported the just struggle of the Palestinian people, as it supported all other people subjected to such occupations and discrimination. Pakistan had consistently stated that Security Council resolutions must be implemented without discrimination between regions and peoples. States which were in violation of such resolutions and were using State terrorism to trample upon the inalienable right to self-determination of the people under their occupation must be held accountable. A settlement of the Middle East crisis must also include a restoration of the Syrian Golan and full respect for the territorial integrity of Lebanon. There could be no lasting security without a lasting peace.

    YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) recalled that when he addressed the Assembly last year, he made the observation that history was giving birth to a new epoch in the Middle East, one based on a revolution in the ways that peoples, nations and religions of the region related to one another. "Today, we are experiencing the labour pains of that new era", he said.

    Enormous progress had been made in the past generation to end long-standing conflicts and open the door to tolerance and coexistence, he said. He cited Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, strengthened relations with others and historic reconciliation with Palestinian neighbours. While the past year had been a tremendous and heart-wrenching setback, the path forward to all the peoples of the region was open. Some, however, remained fixated on fighting old wars and stoking injustices that had no place in the civilized world. Fifty years after Israel was established, and despite greater strides in integrating with its neighbours, certain regimes continued to cultivate the dark forces of rejection, so as to perpetuate a useless conflict.

    On Israel’s northern border, he said, Lebanon clung to its position that further aggression against Israel and failure to comply with the international community’s will was somehow legitimate. Israel had withdrawn its forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000. Since then, it had asked Lebanon to deploy its armed forces up to the "Blue Line". Instead, Lebanon was handing the area over to control of the Hezbollah, who were noted terrorists training other terrorists and assaulting Israeli soldiers patrolling the Blue Line on Israel’s side.

    He said terrorist organizations thrived because they were supported, encouraged, financed and harboured by States. Syria and Iran were two who were known to support Hezbollah. Syria last year had broken off talks with Israel. Only days ago, Israel’s Foreign Minister had stated his readiness to resume negotiations immediately and without preconditions. Iran was a nuclear-acquiring State, that had already used chemical weapons against its neighbour Iraq. Since overthrow of the Shah, Iran had been labelling Israel the "small Satan", calling for jihad and the destruction of Israel. Iraq, meanwhile, continued to reject Israel’s right to exist, which was particularly troubling in light of that country’s history of aggression, and its capabilities in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

    He said Israel had demonstrated a willingness for compromise in pursuit of peace since 1948. It was constantly searching for new peace initiatives. Israel’s vision of peace was one of clearly defined borders to eliminate territorial disputes, of a regional security framework to curb the threat posed by extremists, of a future in which the lives of all people in the region improved because of an open door to economic growth and foreign investment. Terrorism stood in the way of that vision. Israel had been the target since its inception. Terrorists continued to arm themselves, clerics continued to inspire them and certain regimes continued to encourage them, with the aim of preventing peace and coexistence from taking root in the Middle East.

    ARNOLDO LISTRE (Argentina) said the Palestinian Authority should make clear through concrete action both to Palestinians and Israelis that terrorism and violence were unacceptable. The Palestinian Authority must make every effort to prevent such acts and punish the perpetrators. All activity related to Israeli settlements should be frozen, including the "natural growth" of the existing ones. In accordance with international law, such settlements were illegal and violated United Nations resolutions.

    The cessation of violence, security cooperation and confidence-building measures were all essential to the resumption of negotiations. But none of those measures would be sustained for long unless the parties returned to the negotiating table and continued the process that had begun a decade ago.

    In seeking a definitive solution to the Palestine question, every effort should be made to combine the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians for material independence and personal dignity with the legitimate right of Israel to recognition and security. In southern Lebanon, all parties should exercise utmost restraint and self-control, respecting the "Blue Line" established by the United Nations. Parties should also abstain from carrying out or tolerating acts of provocation that could increase tensions alongside the line.

    JOHAN THANI ABDULLAH (Brunei Darussalam) said that with the increasing rate of violence, especially in the occupied Palestinian territories, the chances of peace in that region appeared more elusive than ever. However, the international community could not afford to let the efforts and achievements of the past decade wane -– they must be built on. The task of restoring and fostering a climate of trust was essential to the resumption of the peace process. Some measure of restraint needed to be exercised, and it was important that the conflicting parties should end all acts of violence. He welcomed the recent initiative by the United States to try and secure a truce between the parties concerned. That initiative would be significant in paving the way for progress on the diplomatic front by all parties.

    At the same time, as an institution charged with the maintenance of international peace and security, the United Nations role on this issue was also crucial, he said. Through its various efforts and activities, the United Nations must continue to assume its responsibility towards all aspects of the question of Palestine, until it was resolved in a satisfactory manner.

    It was encouraging to note that the international community had unequivocally pronounced its support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. In that regard, he welcomed the statement made by President Bush in support of the establishment of a Palestinian State.

    T.M. HAMZAH THAYEB (Indonesia) said the occupied Palestinian territories were rapidly becoming embroiled in a state of turmoil and turbulence. Since September 2000, hundreds of Palestinians had lost their lives due to the use of disproportionate military force by the occupying Power. The untenable practice of closures and economic blockades, which had dramatically increased the level of poverty, misery and suffering, was worsening the situation still further.

    Relentless repression, from the confiscation of Palestinian lands and demolition of houses to expanding settlements, was definitely not conducive to reviving the peace process, he continued. That had exacerbated the already tense atmosphere, fuelling the conflict to a dangerous degree. In recent years, there had never been such deeply entrenched feelings of frustration and disillusionment against the policies of occupation.

    The Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations were similarly at a standstill, he said, since there could be no peace until occupation ceased. Indonesia was pleased that the situation in Lebanon had been marked by general stability once occupation had ceased. But the international community should remain vigilant against sporadic violations of Lebanese airspace, as such incidents had the potential to undermine the stability of the region.

    YUKIO SATOH (Japan) called upon all parties concerned to exercise self-restraint and immediately end the violence. Both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities should resume the peace process in accordance with the Tenet plan and the Mitchell Report. The active involvement of the United States was essential for advancing the peace progress. His Government strongly urged both parties to respond to United States efforts. The constructive engagement of many other countries interested in the peace and development of the region was also necessary, and he welcomed the initiatives of a number of European countries in that regard. For its part, his Government was determined to extend as much support as possible to the peace process.

    Also important, he said, was international assistance for the development and sustained growth of the Palestine economy. Since 1993, his Government had provided economic assistance totalling more than $600 million to help cover the cost of establishing the Palestinian Authority, constructing economic and social infrastructure, building schools and hospitals and creating employment. It had also provided emergency assistance amounting to some $40 million, in order to alleviate the serious economic difficulties of the Palestinians caused by the situation since September 2000. Japan had also been contributing substantially to the activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as one of its leading donors.

    The economic difficulties of Palestinians were becoming increasingly grave, he said. The international community must make further efforts to support the Palestinian people. His Government had consistently supported the Palestinian people's right to self-determination, including their right to establish an independent State. It also supported the right of Israel to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries. The parties should seize the present momentum for cooperation in the international community to redouble their efforts to attain a durable peace. Japan would do its utmost to support such efforts.

    CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said he regretted that the negotiations under the peace process begun in Oslo in 1993 had been suspended, giving way to a spiral of violence, reprisals and excessive use of force that contravened the principles of all civilizations and constituted a continuing violation of the human rights of innocent civilians in both countries. It would be irresponsible and absolutely unacceptable to allow that situation to continue. His Government considered the situation to be all the more serious given the dark shadow cast on world peace by the current terrorist threat. The mediation efforts of the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and other international actors were welcome, particularly the new initiatives aimed at creating an environment conducive to dialogue between the parties.

    In that regard, he made a clear and explicit appeal to the parties to cease immediately all acts of violence, to return as soon as possible to the negotiations, and to implement, in good faith, the Mitchell recommendations. He hoped that the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians would proceed without interruption; that the parties would abandon rigid positions that did not contribute to placing dialogue above violence; and that they would not take unilateral measures that might affect the course or prejudice the final outcome of the talks.

    He trusted that Syria and Israel would soon resume their negotiations on the Golan Heights, in fulfilment of resolutions 242 and 338 of the Security Council.

    YAHAYA ABDUL JABAR (Malaysia) said that the international community must condemn the oppression of the occupying Power over the Arab population in the occupied Arab territories, including Jerusalem. It should go beyond condemning the ongoing assault on Palestinian civilians, as manifested by the ongoing confiscation of lands, demolition of Arab-owned houses and the relentless expansion of illegal Jewish settlements. The continuation of those policies was in no way conducive to reviving the peace process. On the contrary, they would contribute to exacerbating the current tense situation, thereby fuelling the conflict.

    He said the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan by Israel constituted a serious impediment to achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region. It was regrettable that there had been no progress in the peace talks between Israel and Syria, suspended since 1996. He was concerned that the inhabitants of the Syrian Golan continued to live under Israeli occupation, with all the deprivations, humiliation and other indignities which that entailed. The continued existence and expansion of Jewish settlements in occupied Syria remained a major stumbling-block to a resumption of the Syrian-Israeli peace process and again called into question the seriousness of Israel in seeking peace.

    On the situation of Lebanon, he said he was seriously concerned about Israel’s violations of the withdrawal line. Israel should put an end to those breaches and also respect the safety of UNIFIL personnel.

    ROLAND Y. KPOTSRA (Togo) said that despite several attempts of the international community to ensure a lasting peace in the Middle East, this goal had not been reached. The deterioration of relations had almost blocked the peace process. One could only express regret that Security Council resolution 1322 (2000), calling for an end to violence and an end to the infernal cycle of reprisals, had not been heeded.

    All adequate measures must be taken to end the present confrontation and to restore law and order. There must be an end to the economic blockade of the Palestinian territories, and the proposals of the Tenet plan should be implemented without further delay. Israel must proceed to a moratorium of all settlement activities.

    There had been some positive developments in the effort of the sponsors of a Middle East settlement, but this could not obscure the fact that the Security Council had not lived up to its role as the protector of international peace and security. The Council’s inertia had been displayed in March this year when it was unable to adopt the draft resolution suggested by the Non-Aligned Movement proposing an observer mission for the region. A restoration of the climate of confidence was needed. Only then could the international community bring about peace in the Middle East, based on a settlement of the questions of Palestine, the Syrian Golan and Southern Lebanon.

    JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said the international community must shoulder its responsibility to protect the people of Palestine by playing a third party role. It must bring about resumption of the negotiation process to achieve the objectives already stated aims, including the withdrawal of Israel from occupied areas and the establishment of a Palestinian State.

    He said Bahrain supported the United States position on achieving a comprehensive peace for the region. He recalled that the United States President had called for the establishment of a Palestinian State, a position that had been echoed by that country’s Secretary of State. Most significantly, however, the United States had offered to take the initiative in jump-starting the peace process through the establishment of a working group.

    Unfortunately, however, Arabs and Muslims were now faced with a new challenge. They were the subjects of a campaign to link Muslims with terrorism. That was unjust and incorrect. Many scholars had come forward to contradict any link between the historic Muslim religion and the new form of terrorism that had appeared. Muslims must not be saddled with that injustice.

    SELIM TADMOURY (Lebanon) said his country still suffered Israeli aggression through violations to its airspace and territorial water. The Israeli air force committed mischief daily, causing terror among Lebanese civilians, especially schoolchildren. Israel still kept Lebanese hostages in its prisons -– some of them for 25 years without trials -- in flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions. Israel had left thousands of landmines in Lebanon, which had killed and wounded many, but still refused to provide all of its landmine maps.

    He said Lebanon was adamant in preserving its borders of 1923, which were reaffirmed under an agreement with Israel in 1949. The so-called "blue line" was not an international border. Ten years ago, the world had looked to the Madrid peace conference in hopes of a just and comprehensive settlement, and both parties to the conflict had achieved some promising progress. Suddenly, Israel had decided to give priority to the use of force instead of the principles of justice and right, based on international legality. In September 2000, it had taken a provocative step which had led to a spiral of violence.

    It was regrettable that the Security Council could not preserve international peace and security. Peace must be based on the withdrawal of Israel from Lebanese occupied territory and the establishment of Palestine as an independent State with the right of self-determination. It must also be based on Israel withdrawing from the Golan Heights, on the principle of land for peace, and on the cessation of all provocative practices in Lebanon.

    JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said his country remained committed to a negotiated settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace. It also remained strongly committed to the territorial integrity of Israel and the right of its people to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries, free from threats or acts of force. It was equally committed to the application of that principle to all States in the region. Australia had also consistently recognized the legitimate right and aspiration of the Palestinian people to self-determination. A durable resolution of the conflict should include the establishment of a viable State for the Palestinians. In that connection, settlement activity in the territories occupied during the 1967 war was contrary to international law, provocative and deeply harmful to the peace process.

    He said his country would continue to play a constructive role in support of peace in the region, where the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles was a major concern. He strongly urged States in the region to become parties to all relevant international arms control and non-proliferation instruments, and urged the parties to those instruments to adhere to them. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) provided a solid foundation for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Australia had called on the four countries not yet party to the NPT -– Cuba, India, Israel and Pakistan -– to join the Treaty as soon as possible. Special security concerns should not bar NPT membership for any country. Similarly, he called upon all regional States that had not yet signed or ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to do so without delay.

    In every region, a positive security environment depended upon States meeting their international obligations, he continued. He shared the concern of others that the weapons verification and monitoring work in Iraq, mandated by the Security Council, had not been possible for nearly three years. Continued lack of assurance about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq could only have a destabilizing effect on the region as a whole. He called upon Iraq to cooperate fully with the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to achieve full implementation of all relevant Council resolutions. He urged all States in the Middle East to take effective legal measures to combat the threat to international peace and security posed by terrorism, including becoming parties to the relevant instruments, denying safe haven to terrorists, and implementing national measures to prevent their financing.

    IHOR SAGACH (Ukraine) said the undeniable truth was that peace in the Middle East could not be achieved by force. It could only be achieved through dialogue. The most complex negotiations could do more to achieve peace than any act of violence, which inevitably resulted in loss of human lives, destruction and despair. The experiences of Egypt and Jordan had clearly proved that peace agreements could be reached between the Israelis and the Arabs. There was no other alternative for the parties than to overcome violence, hostility and mistrust, to stop mutual accusations, and finally, to resume the negotiation process. In order to achieve a viable solution, the process must be based on the relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the principle of land for peace, and other principles laid down at the Madrid Conference and in the Oslo agreements.

    The achievement of a comprehensive Middle East settlement was impossible without finding acceptable solutions to all its integral parts, in particular on the Lebanese and Syrian tracks. In that regard, he welcomed the fact that over the past year, the situation in the UNIFIL area of operation in South Lebanon had been marked by mostly general stability and gradual restoration to normalcy. He remained concerned about the numerous serious breaches by the parties of the Blue Line, especially in the Shab’a Farms area, in direct violation of Security Council resolutions, as well as the exchange of fire across the Blue Line. As a troop-contributing country to UNIFIL, he was particularly alarmed by actions that put UNIFIL’s security at risk. Full restoration of the effective authority of the Lebanese Government in South Lebanon would undoubtedly contribute to further progress in the discharge of UNIFIL’s mandate and guarantees for its safety.

    He regretted that the Israeli-Syrian track had not advanced substantially over the past year. It was in the interest of all the peoples of the region to have the Israeli-Syrian talks on the occupied Syrian Golan resume without further delay and preconditions. He called on the Governments of Israel and Syria to resume direct talks. He hoped that the election of Syria this year as a non-permanent member of the Security Council would facilitate progress in the Israeli-Syrian dialogue –- so desperately needed to improve the whole situation in the Middle East.

    Rights of Reply

    MAHDI HAMZEHEI (Iran) said it was natural for the Zionist regime to make unsubstantiated accusations about others. In the situation in the Middle East, the lines were clearly defined between freedom-fighters and terrorists. Further, Israel was a country stockpiling nuclear weapons. Iran was a party to numerous instruments on nuclear weapons that Israel had failed to join, and Israel’s record was no better in related areas such as biological weapons.

    Mr. MEKDAD (Syria) said that in the statement of the representative of Israel to the Assembly this afternoon, the use of words like "peace", "terrorism", "security" and the shedding of crocodile tears were aimed to divert the attention from the real situation in the Middle East -– the occupation by Israel of Arab land. In the "tedious tirade" by Israel, there was not a single mention of the Israeli occupation. Israel was the last State to have the right to speak on terrorism; Israel was a school of terrorism with excellent graduates. In the last 12 months alone, Israel had succeeded in killing more than 800 Palestinians, the latest incident being the killing of 5 children on their way to school. Israel was the master of terrorism and had uprooted half a million of Syrians from the Golan, and was building Israeli homes on the ruins of devastation. What prevented Israel from implementing United Nations resolutions? The headquarters of organizations mentioned by the Israeli delegation were in Palestine; the offices in Syria were information offices, and performed no other activities.

    Mr. TADMOURY (Lebanon) said a careful reading of the Israeli statement made one realize that its objective was to incite a small country like Lebanon, which was trying to revive its economy, and had only just begun to bring life back to normal. Israeli occupation was the reason there was resistance in Lebanon for more than 22 years, and why its infrastructure had been destroyed and its economy had suffered.

    Israel considered that it had completed withdrawal from Lebanon. What were the daily land and sea incidents? Was this not a form of occupation? Comprehensive withdrawal meant stopping those violations by air, sea and land.

    Israel blamed Lebanon for invoking international legitimacy and said that Lebanon hid behind it. Lebanon was a small country. All it had was the ability to invoke international legitimacy.

    AARON JACOB (Israel) said the statements against Israel had been made by representatives of regimes known to be the source of crimes much worse than those alleged against Israel. Syria supported some of the most vicious terrorists in the world, who made their homes quite comfortably in Damascus. Lebanon, whose territory was the source of terrorists, did nothing about the terrorists using the country as a springboard into Israel. Iran’s statement came from another known supporter of terrorists. The question of who was or who was not a terrorist was not a difficult one for most delegates to determine. When, some day, the delegates levelling the charges against Israel could look in the mirror and recognize that they had worked for the regimes that presently existed, then it would be possible to have peace in the Middle East.

    Mr. MEKDAD (Syria) said that statement made by Israel deserved no reply. It was replete with lies and a distortion of facts. He had wished that Israel would say one word on the roots of the situation in the Middle East -– Israeli occupation. The people of Syria brought up in dignity and charity, would not give up an inch in their demands for legitimate rights. As for talk on terrorism, Israel’s victims were to be found everywhere in the world. Israel, according to United Nations reports had violated the "blue line" 3,000 times. When Syria looked in the mirror, when Arabs looked in the mirror –- they would only see a noble history. He said he wished to repeat that the Palestinian organizations in Syria had their main headquarters in Palestine, and the offices in Syria were information offices and performed no other activities.

    Mr. TADMOURY (Lebanon) said that he would like to refer the Israeli delegate to the Secretary-General’s reports and his representative in Lebanon, to find out about incidents in Lebanon. From May 2000 until September 2001, there had been 2,272 incidents, mostly by air. Was that not a provocation to terrorism?

    Mr. JACOB (Israel) said listening to the debate was an Orwellian experience, in that everything was backwards, where "bad" was "good", and "night" was "day". Representatives of regimes that exercised State terror against their own people were calling Israel a State terrorist. There was no point in replying. It was hoped the international community recognized the truth. It would be evident when those countries were held accountable for supporting, harbouring and financing terrorists.

    * *** *