The peace process in the Middle East has entered its tenth year since the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference. During these 10 years, thanks to the joint efforts of the Arab and Israeli sides and the endeavors of the international community, the process has registered some significant progress. Last year witnessed Israel's withdrawal of its troops from Southern Lebanon and negotiations entered on the final status between Palestine and Israel. All these are important elements in the complete restoration of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people and the realization of a comprehensive and durable peace in the Middle East region.
To our regret, however, the eruption of large-scale violence between Israel and Palestine last September has severely hindered the Middle East peace process, causing grave concern to the international community. Last October, the Commission convened a special session on Palestine which adopted a resolution and strongly condemned the responsible party for its abuse of military forces resulting in large amount of civilian casualties, especially that of women and children. It also called upon the international community to take immediate and effective measures to halt this serious violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people. However, the violent confrontations between Israel and Palestine have continued unabated. A series of extreme incidents have resurged not too long ago. We are gravely concerned by this situation. The endless prolongation of the Middle East and Palestine issues not only endangers the peace and security of the region, but also poses a constant threat to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Palestinian people.
This year marks the beginning of a new century. The development of humanity also enters into a new stage. However, this optimism of a dawning Century is marred by a dark shadow: the specter of the decades-long sufferings of the Palestinian people in destitute. The international community, including this Commission, should give importance and apply itself to the solution of the Middle East and Palestine issues in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and the relevant resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Commission itself. The Chinese delegation is of the view that the international community should build upon the opportunity offered by the convening of the Special Session of the Commission on Palestine last October, and urge certain countries to discard their taste for double standards and replace it with effective measures conducive to a just and fair solution to the Middle East and Palestine issues at an early date. Only with the sustained progress of the Middle East peace process can the security of the countries in that region be really safeguarded, and can the Palestinian people who have long been victimized by war and destitution fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including their right to self-determination.
Being a permanent member of the Security Council, China constantly supports the Palestinian people in their struggle to restore their legitimate national rights, and actively supports the Middle East peace process. It has made contribution within its capabilities towards the relaxation of tension and the advancement of peace in the Middle East region. The Chinese government always holds the view that the relevant UN resolutions on the Middle East and the principle of "land for peace" are the bases for peace talks on the Middle East. The effective implementation by all sides of agreements and understandings reached between them is the key to break the deadlock in the Middle East peace talks. We hope that all relevant UN resolutions and previously reached agreements will be implemented and adhered to. The parties concerned should take all necessary precautions against any action detrimental to the peace process. The international community has the responsibility and obligation to help the relevant parties in the Middle East to overcome all difficulties and obstacles in the realization of a comprehensive, just and durable peace in the region. The Chinese government will, as always, work with the international community and will continue to play a positive role in the early solution of the Palestine issue, as the latter is in fact the crux of all Middle East issues.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.