|Date||30 November 2006|
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Agenda item 13
The situation in the Middle East
We meet today to consider the agenda item 13 entitled, "The situation in the Middle East", which deals with the state of conflict and tension in that hot region over the past decades as the result of the continued Israeli occupation of Arab territories, which has led to a protracted state of regional and international insecurity and instability. The time has come to seriously address the situation in our region, particularly in light of the reiteration by the Arab parties of their commitment to a just and comprehensive peace, as reflected in the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and the special ministerial session of the Security Council on 21 September 2006.
Following the proven failure of military and unilateral solutions, as happened in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, and which resulted only in further violence and destruction, the situation now requires action by the international community to expedite the resumption of negotiations in order to achieve a just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In that context and in expression of its rejection of the continuing Israeli occupation, the General Assembly annually adopts, under the agenda item entitled "The situation in the Middle East", two resolutions of great importance. The first, deals with Jerusalem. All General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, since the adoption of the partition resolution of 1947 (resolution 181 (II)), have confirmed the necessity of maintaining Jerusalem's special status, as well as the illegitimacy of any measures undertaken by consecutive Israeli Governments to alter that status before the conclusion of final status negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.
The second resolution deals with the occupied Syrian Golan and confirms the will and determination of the international community to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Syrian territory and to get Israel to withdraw fully from the Golan Heights to the borders of 4 June 1967.
Undoubtedly, reaching a final settlement can be founded on realizing a two-State solution and updating the Road Map to reflect a set of definite steps and a specific timetable that takes into consideration the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and the other relevant components of the peace process. Israel's withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, the Sheba'a Farms and the Golan Heights, will enable the attainment of a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East, in a context that will ensure the establishment of an independent Palestinian State within the borders of 1967 and the establishment of normal relations among all States of the region.
However, achieving this depends to a large extent, on Israel's commitment to achieving peace. Israel must cease all of its policies and practices that contradict and thus jeopardize the peace process. It must show good faith on all tracks by ceasing its extrajudicial killings, blockades and targeting of civilians, as well as by releasing all prisoners and ameliorating of the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as strengthening new confidence-building measures.
In that context, we reiterate our satisfaction with the agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis to honour the ceasefire and cease hostilities, as well as the announcement by Israel's Prime Minister of his readiness to achieve peace with the Palestinians. We also reaffirm the importance of taking mutual steps to break the current stalemate and provide the appropriate environment in order to regain confidence, by resuming negotiations, arranging the release of the abducted Israeli soldiers and the return of Palestinian prisoners, including officials and members of the Legislative Council who have been detained by Israel.
We also look forward to more serious engagement by the relevant international Powers, especially the Quartet, in efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive peace and to commence serious negotiations between the different parties to achieve the full withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and Sheba'a Farms. In that regard, we must acknowledge the positive initiatives of some countries, such as the joint Spanish, French and Italian initiative, in that regard. The end of the occupation must be comprehensive and complete, and must result from direct negotiations on all tracks free from attempts to maintain the status quo or impose a settlement by force, which would only lead to further deterioration of the situation in the region.
I wish to present to the General Assembly today two draft resolutions under agenda item 13, entitled "The situation in the Middle East". The first draft resolution, entitled "Jerusalem", is contained in A/61/L.35 and is co-sponsored by the 30 countries listed in the document. The second draft resolution, entitled "The Syrian Golan", contained in A/61/L.36, is co-sponsored by the 31 States listed in the document.
The first draft resolution reaffirms that the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions remain the main terms of reference for the special status of Jerusalem and confirms the renunciation and repudiation of all legislative and administrative measures and actions undertaken by Israel -- the occupying Power -- aimed at altering the status of Jerusalem. Moreover, the draft resolution confirms that any just and comprehensive solution to the question of Jerusalem must take into consideration the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides, and must include provisions on international guarantees ensuring the freedom of belief and religion to its inhabitants. The draft resolution also welcomes the decision of a number of States to withdraw their diplomatic missions from Jerusalem, in compliance with Security Council resolution 478 (1980).
The second draft resolution deals with the occupied Syrian Golan. It reaffirms Security Council resolution 497 (1981) and highlights Israel's continued non-compliance with that resolution. It also confirms the applicability of The Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Conventions of 1949 to the Syrian territory occupied since 1967 and the illegitimacy of the decision to apply Israeli law to that territory and the settlement operations there. The draft resolution also renews calls upon Israel to withdraw from the Golan to the borders of 4 June 1967, to resume peace negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, and to ensure respect for commitments reached in previous negotiations.
The sponsors of the two draft resolutions believe that the time has come for the international community to address the Middle East from a comprehensive perspective. The people of the region have suffered from the scourge of war and aggression. They aspire to achieve peace, stability and development. That cannot be achieved without the international will to push towards the resumption of peace negotiations on all tracks, with a view to achieving full Israeli withdrawal from all of the Arab territories occupied since 1967 and based on the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Road Map, the Madrid terms of reference and the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. Proceeding from that, the sponsors look forward to a favourable vote by all members of the General Assembly on the two draft resolutions.