Permanent Mission to UN

Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cuba, H.E. Ambassador Orlando Requeijo Gual, before the General Assembly, under Agenda item 41: "Question of Palestine". New York, 29 November 2001.

Mr. President:

Once again, we have come together in this Assembly to address the question of Palestine. Precisely one year ago, as we celebrated the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we expressed our profound concern at the outset of a new and deplorable chapter in the history of assaults against and violations of the most fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. Those were the first two months of the second intifada, in which the casualties mounted precipitously and many were eager to see wisdom prevail over the bloodshed and suffering of an entire people.

Unfortunately, however, a year later we continue with dismay, distress and helplessness to see the deterioration of the situation in the Palestinian territories. There have been 14 months of tragic acts of violence, confrontation and outright warfare that have caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people and injured tens of thousands, including children, women and the elderly. Although the economic damage has been significant, the sorrow and mourning are truly immeasurable.

Since 28 September 2000, Israel has imposed its law implacably through lethal incursions into Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem, the destruction of property on an increasingly large scale, the creation of new and the expansion of established settlements on Palestinian land, military occupation and the implementation of a pitiless blockade, which paralyses economic activity, imposes severe difficulties on the Palestinian people and is destroying the little that remains of the fragile trust between the two parties.

These actions make the possibility of achieving fair and lasting peace in Palestine, and throughout the Middle East ever more remote. Israel continues to defy and ignore the many resolutions of this Assembly, the Security Council and the Commission on Human Rights concerning the question of Palestine. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and international humanitarian law are being openly flouted. At a time when the international community has openly and promptly voiced its resolve to combat terrorism, we view those outrages with profound concern. Resolutions that were adopted more than 50 years ago have been and continue to be ignored. We might well ask ourselves why there is so much incompetence and inaction.

Today more than ever, the United Nations has the key responsibility to participate actively in the search for a solution to the question of Palestine. The General Assembly must help to revitalize the peace process in the light of the manifest inability of the Security Council to enforce its own resolutions in any circumstances. We all know when, how and why such double standards are applied. They must be abandoned, along with the anachronistic privilege of the veto exercised by the United States on the many occasions when it must protect its allies and accomplices, regardless of the flagrant violations that they may commit before all mankind, making impunity a fundamental feature of their activities.

My delegation is highly honoured to be a cosponsor again this year of the four draft resolutions submitted under agenda item 41. As it has traditionally done, Cuba will vote in favour of the draft resolutions and hopes that they will enjoy the majority support of the delegations present here.

We have heard enough speeches full of promises that vanish into thin air. We have heard enough rhetorical insinuations that fail to be translated into deeds. We have seen enough immoral complicity and injustice. We must call forcefully on Israel to comply with all the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East. To use a fashionable term, there is no need to draw a new road map to chart the way to peace. It has existed for some time now and we must do our utmost to use it, without dangerous deviations that harm the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

Cuba once again condemns the acts of aggression and state terrorism directed by Israel against the Palestinian people and reaffirms its resolute solidarity with that people in its struggle to establish an independent and sovereign State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to secure the return of all occupied Arab territories. We must act with resolve and fortitude. Let us strive for justice and peace. Let us spare present and future generations of Palestinian children the horrors of the recent past and of the present.

Thank you very much

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