Maher addresses 56th UNGA session
Egypt-Regional, Politics, 11/15/2001
The political settlement of the Question of Palestine, which is the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, requires a clear Israeli will to desist from its continued occupation of the Arab land, said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher on Wednesday.
Addressing the 56th session of the UN General Assembly, Maher said Israel needs to understand that its position in the Middle East will not witness any real improvement until it evinces the will to return to the borders of the 4th of June 1967.
Maher's speech was read out on his behalf by Egypt's delegate to the UN Ambassador Ahmed Abu Gheit.
Israel must realise that any peaceful settlement of the Question of Palestine requires the return of east Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty.
Failure to understand this fact will always constitute an obstacle to all the peaceful efforts for the establishment of peace in the Middle East, he said.
Any political or security arrangements for the settlements of the Palestinian Question must lead to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state exercising sovereignty over its land, water and airspace.
There must be a just settlement based on UN resolutions and the norms of justice, legitimacy and of the oldest refugee problem in modern history, namely that of the Palestinian refugee.
Egypt does not accept a situation in which Israel remains the sole nuclear power in the Middle East.
The Middle East must be a zone free from weapons of mass destruction. The countries of the world, particularly the five nuclear weapon states, must discharge their responsibility under the international non-proliferation instruments.
When such conditions prevail and are supported by the world's nations - especially the friends of Israel, forcefully and decisively because they are just and rightful...then the painful chapters of this long lasting conflict can be closed. Only then will it be possible to raise new generations to live in peace and tolerance instead of living in the frustration, violence, and hatred.
The part of the world, located in the area from West Asia to the Southern shores of the Mediterranean, needs peace in order to achieve the objective of social, economic and political development. For that to be attained, there is a need for a decisive and swift achievement of that just settlement.
Concerning the issue of terrorism, Maher said the events of the September 11 in the U.S. were not the beginning of terrorism.
We have suffered from terrorism for many years. The tragic events of the September 11 put the whole question in the focus of international concern.
This was reflected in a determined international consensus to deal not only with the manifestations of terrorism but also with its root causes. For the battle of terrorism to be successful, it must extend to all aspects of life:
political, economic, cultural and in the field of security. A disease cannot be cured by dealing with the symptoms alone but rather there is always a need for analysis and a thorough investigation of the germs which spew their venom in the hearts, souls and bodies, he said.
This leads me to a worrisome phenomenon that increased in magnitude after the tragic events of September 11th, namely the attempt to associate the charges of terrorism and backwardness with Islam and its resultant persecution of Arabs and Muslims.
This attempt can only be the result of ignorance and blind prejudice.
Islam is a religion based on truth, justice and the respect for human rights, particulary the right to life and to be rid of poverty, ignorance and blind prejudice.
In Islam, man has the duty to interact with others through understanding, and mutual respect.
I commend the governments, including the US government, which took measures to put an end to these heinous practices of the dark ages.
Nevertheless, there is much more that needs to be done by us all to clarify the truth and dispel the darkness of ignorance and arrogrance.
Thus all will know the human progress and knowledge is a river that has not stopped flowing since the dawn of history. Every civilization has been a beneficiary from and the tributary to the achievements of other cultures.
The Arab Islamic civilization, as well as the Christian and the Pharaohic ones, have all made contributions that live with us until this very day, Without those contributions the world would not have been able to reach its current level of progress, he said.
Had it not been for those contributions, the backward forces of darkness would not have been reined in.
I am standing before this august Assembly at the end of the first year of the third millennium, ten years after the Madrid Conference which reaffirmed the basis for the Middle East settlement, yet the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Question of Palestine at its core, continues without a just and comprehensive settlement.
This is truly hard to believe.
It is most regrettable that the Syrian and Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 and the remainder of the Lebanese territory continue to languish under the heavy yoke of Israeli occupation. That occupation continues to cause injustice, destruction, frustration and anger.
It continues its refusal to comply with the terms of international legitimacy.
It continues to defy the will of the world. This unjust situation takes us back to a dark age that the United Nations was established to end. This unjust situation creates suffering and agony for a people whose only crime is to demand their rights.
It also creates an unhealthy climate exploited by those who wish to fish in the troubled waters in order to propagate the darkness, the misery, the chaos and the pain, he added.
The international and regional situation, in addition to the humanitarian and legal requirements as well as the interests of all peoples, can no longer tolerate the continued occupation, usurpation and settlement by Israel of the terrtories of others.
They can no longer tolerate an army of hateful occupation using the most sophisticated and lethal weapons to brutalize unarmed civilians, to demolish their homes and uproot their trees.
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