In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
The Middle East is at the forefront of the regions which occupy the attention of the international community and take a large share of international efforts.
A quick survey of the situation in the Middle East shows that it threatens not only the security and stability of the region, but also international peace and security. Israel occupied large portions of Arab lands during the 1967 war, most of which are still under its control 25 years later. Until now, peace has not been achieved in the region, and the Palestinians are not one step closer to achieving their national rights, including their right to self-determination.
Since then, Israel continued to challenge the international community by planning and executing policies that aim at usurping these lands, while continuing at the same time to dispossess the Palestinians of their lands. Israel worked at shrinking the Palestinian population in the occupied territories and at converting the land into a colony. Israel continued with its original objective, which is to tighten its control of the occupied territories and suppress any Arab resistance in them.
The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits, in Article 47, the annexation of lands occupied by military force. The United Nations passed resolutions condemning these Israeli policies in East Jerusalem and other Arab towns and cities. Article 49 of the same convention prohibits the transfer or expulsion of the original population in the areas they live or outside their territories, no matter what the causes or reasons. Yet, we still see the Palestinians being expelled from their lands. The same article prohibits the occupying authorities from transferring their citizens to the lands they occupy. Yet, Israel continues to increase the number of settlements, which the reports before us say constitute more than 60 per cent of the West Bank and Gaza that were appropriated by military orders from 1967 until 1992; 230,000 Israelis have been settled in 212 settlements in the occupied Palestinian lands, including the holy city of Jerusalem. The same situation is in the Syrian Arab Golan where the occupying authority endeavors to change its demographic character by increasing the number of settlements.
Israeli estimates say that Israel will receive more than 100,000 new settlers by the end of this year, and that the new settlers will reach 2 million in the Golan during the next five years. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir alluded to this plan when he said "large scale immigration will require a greater Israel." At present, there are only five Arab villages out of the original 110 which were in existence before the occupation. Forty-five Israeli settlements are built on the ruins of Syrian Arab villages in the Golan. Israel has expelled 93 percent of the Golan population in order to realize its false dictum in the Arab Syrian lands, "a land without a people, for a people without a land." Israel continues to execute its plans to change the historical, cultural, social and economic characteristics of the occupied territories on which it imposed its administration, its laws, and its identity in order to erase the Arab identity of the occupied Golan, in contradiction to Security Council Resolution 497 (1981) and other related United Nations resolutions.
The nature of the Israeli policies has become clear for the international community; from the principle of invasion for the purpose of occupation, to the principle of deprivation from natural and human resources and the imposition of mass economic punishment, Israel takes measures like brutal force, demolition of houses, pulling out trees as well as other oppressive measures. The objective is the same, which is the gradual annexation of occupied Arab lands.
Israel did not stop with the lands occupied in 1967. It invaded another Arab country, Lebanon, and it still occupies the southern portion. From time to time, it bombards the villages and towns in southern Lebanon and western Bekaa valley, which results in innocent casualties and great material losses. Israel's continued deplorable aggression against Lebanon aims at preempting the implementation of United Nations resolutions, particularly Security Council Resolution 425, which requires Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon. In this regard, we have to affirm that Israel must be committed to complete and unconditional implementation of Security Council Resolution 425 so that the Lebanese government will be able to exercise its legitimate authority over all Lebanese soil.
I have to stress here that the Lebanese government has achieved great progress in its efforts to implement the Taif Agreement by taking all necessary political and constitutional measures. The international community must continue to support these Lebanese efforts and participate in the reconstruction of Lebanon. In this connection, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia appeals to the international community to work towards the establishment of an international fund for the reconstruction of Lebanon.
The time has come for the Middle East region to receive its share of security, peace, and tranquility, and for all energies to be directed towards stability and development. The Arab countries have asserted their sincere intentions to establish permanent and just peace in the Middle East. They have proven this by participating in the peace negotiations which are co-hosted by the United States and the Russian Federation.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has given its full support to the peace process in the Middle East. It believes that peace requires the elimination of the dangers of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. It is imperative to convince all the countries in the region without exception to desist from producing, stockpiling, or acquiring any such weapons. In fact, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and all other Arab states have implemented, by word and deed, the treaty for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is now imperative that all countries in the region, including Israel, must become parties to this treaty in order to achieve a balance that guarantees security, peace and stability to all.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes in finding a just solution to the situation in the Middle East. It also believes that no real peace will be achieved in the Middle East unless a permanent and just solution to the Palestinian issue is found, and unless there is a complete withdrawal of Israel from all Arab territories occupied since the 1967 war, foremost of which is the holy city of Jerusalem, which is an integral part of the occupied territories, and unless Israel withdraws from Southern Lebanon. The success of the current peace process in the Middle East clearly depends on Israel's serious implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and all other related United Nations resolutions.
The time has come for this region to receive its share of security, peace and stability, and for all its resources to be devoted to the prosperity of its peoples. The Middle East region can offer a decent living for all who live there and can become an oasis of progress and ingenuity, thus returning to what it once used to be, a fountain of human civilization.
Thank you, Mr. President.