Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
61st session of the UN General Assembly
Tenth emergency special session (resumed):
Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem
and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory
New York, 17 November 2006
As the General Assembly resumes its tenth emergency special session on the situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory, my delegation takes this opportunity to express its closeness to the civilian populations suffering the consequences of recent violence. I would also like to convey the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI to join him in prayer “that God will enlighten the Israeli and Palestinian Authorities, as well as those nations that have a particular responsibility in the region, so that they may do all they can to put an end to the bloodshed, increase humanitarian aid initiatives and encourage the immediate resumption of direct, serious, and concrete negotiations".
While regretting a new toll of deaths and condemning the spiral of violence caused by both military operations and terrorist attacks, we cannot but note that these horrendous occurrences form part of a much larger issue which, as we all know, has festered far too long in the region. Each time we hold an emergency meeting such as this, we recite the seemingly endless list of difficulties and differences separating Israelis and Palestinians, which make it all the more urgent for states to address the problem of the fundamental injustice at the heart of this question. To make a litany of symptoms without addressing the root cause is hardly helpful to either party. Each is forced to live under the horrible tensions of potential explosive acts of terror or military incursions that result in death, casualties and the destruction of infrastructures.
The centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the persistent instability in the Middle East cannot be ignored. It is a sad fact that the international community has failed to engage the Israelis and Palestinians in significant and substantive dialogue, along with resolution of disputes, in order to bring stability and peace to both. It falls squarely upon the international community to use its good offices to facilitate with all speed a rapprochement between the two sides.
This is a time of both urgency and of opportunity: urgency, because the situation is not static, rather it is deteriorating by the minute, as this emergency special session testifies; opportunity, because besides some favourable elements in this political conjuncture, civilian populations everywhere have seen and suffered the devastations of the conflicts and are surely more willing than ever for an honourable peace.
The only peace with a chance of lasting in the region will be a truly comprehensive one. It will involve all major players in the Middle East region and it will have to be based upon bilateral peace treaties and multilateral agreements on all questions of common concern, including water, environment and trade. To do so requires a new and all-embracing vision that will usher in concrete plans for peace.
Thank you, Madam President.