Speech by Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo of the People's Republic of China at the Opening Session of the United Nations Meeting for Asia and the Pacific on the Question of Palestine
(16 December, 2003)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government, my warmest congratulations on the successful holding of this meeting and a big welcome to all of you.
The question of Palestineis at the center of the Middle Eastissue. For more than half a century, it has been the root cause for enduring tension and chaos in the Middle East. It has brought tremendous sufferings to countries and peoples in this region, and is posing increasing threat to peace and stability around the world. As proved throughout history, while conflicts, wars or "violence for violence" would lead nowhere, peaceful dialogues and political negotiations offer the only way to effectively resolve issues.
Admittedly, the key to a solution to the question of Palestineis in the hands of the Israelis and the Palestinians, yet international support is indispensable. We have seen that international mediation and peace-making efforts have helped secure every major opportunity for peace in theMiddle Eastfrom the Camp David Meeting to the Madrid Peace Conference, from the signing of the Oslo Agreement to the Roadmap. But the journey to peace has never been smooth sailing. Currently, the conflicts between Israel and Palestineare continuing, peace talks are stalled and the resolution of the question of Palestineremains an uphill journey. It is therefore imperative for the international community to show greater courage, wisdom and resolve in helping the two parties get rid of disturbances, abandon violence, continue peace talks and follow the Roadmap in good faith. To this end, we must do the following:
First, promoting the due role played by the United Nations. As an institution crucial in maintaining world peace and security, the United Nations has an irreplaceable role in resolving issues in theMiddle East. The first special session of the UN General Assembly discussed the question of Palestineand the first UN peacekeeping operation was a mission to the Middle Eastto supervise the ceasefire. The relevant Security Council resolutions and the principle of "Land for Peace" constitute the basis for a political settlement of the Middle Eastissue. The recently adopted Security Council Resolution 1515 has given a strong impetus to the implementation of the Roadmap. But we must be aware that the UN peace-making efforts in the Middle Easthave always been fraught with difficulties, which is inconducive to Middle Eastpeace and detrimental to UN authority. Given the fact that no peace or harmony would ever sustain in the Middle Eastin the absence of the United Nations, it is important for all parties to demonstrate a longer perspective and jointly facilitate a due and positive role of the United Nations.
Second, upholding neutrality and justice in international mediation. It has been shown by history that on the Middle Eastissue, biased and short-sighted mediation would only escalate tension, harm mutual trust, trigger confrontation and lead to endless troubles. Given the long history, complexity and sensitivity of the Israel-Palestine conflict, it is imperative for the international community to strictly observe the principle of neutrality, objectivity and justice without favoring either party. To be more specific, the reasonable concerns and requirements of the two parties must be taken seriously with equal attention and care. The legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to building an independent state, should be restored at an early date. Suicide bombings targeting civilians should also be checked effectively. In a word, only on a just, reasonable and comprehensive basis, can the question ofPalestinebe properly resolved at the end of the day.
Third, bringing into full play the role of civil society. People are always a strong force for peace. The academia, business community, non-governmental organizations and other members of civil society have their unique strengths in appealing for peace and facilitating dialogue. Their participation helps us pool our wisdom together and jointly promote theMiddle Eastpeace process. This is evident in the Geneva Accord agreed upon early this month, thanks to the creative efforts by non-governmental figures in both Israel and Palestine. The Accord represents a positive and useful endeavor, as it echoes the appeal for peace from both the Israelis and the Palestinians and casts fresh light on how to settle the question of Palestine. This and all the other constructive efforts by civil society in resolving the Middle Eastissue deserve our applause, encouragement and strong support.
TheMiddle Eastregion is one of the cradles of the human civilization. The Arab nation and the Jewish nation are of the same root and have both created splendid cultures.Painful sufferings of the two sides, which have persisted for generations, simply cannot continue; the more than half a century-old hatred and animosity must come to an end. All peace-loving countries are obligated to help these two great nations to remove their hate and fends, live in peace and harmony and develop side by side on this great land. Ever since its foundation nearly 30 years ago, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has been working unyieldingly for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and the Middle Eastpeace process. We highly appreciate all this.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council,Chinahas been working all along to push forward the Middle Eastpeace process by persuading the two parties to negotiate and make peace. The three visits by the China's special envoy on the Middle Eastissue have produced good results. Meanwhile,Chinahas given positive response and support to the peace-making efforts of the international community, in particular, the UN agencies. In the future,Chinawill continue to back UN's role in addressing the Middle Eastissue and is ready to join the rest of the international community in pushing forward the Middle Eastpeace process.
Finally, let me wish this meeting a complete success!