Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore

Permanent Observer of the Holy See
61st session of the UN General Assembly
Before the Special Political and Decolonization Committee
(Fourth Committee) on Item 31

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

New York, 2 November 2006

Mr Chairman,

Having carefully reviewed the Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), my delegation would like to commend the work of UNRWA in meeting new challenges even given the violence and military activity in the area.

Many of the issues raised in the Commissioner-General’s report are symptoms of a much larger issue which, as we all know, has festered far too long in the region. Each year at this meeting we recite the seemingly endless list of difficulties and differences separating Israelis and Palestinians, but they are differences 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. This is why my delegation remains convinced of the two state solution as the basis for the resolution of the crisis, which would permit Israelis to live in security in their own land and Palestinians to live safely in a viable state of their own. This can only be achieved if the international community, and in particular the Quartet, shoulders the burden of reactivating genuine negotiations with all dispatch.

It is a sad fact that the international community has failed to engage the Israelis and Palestinians in significant and substantive dialogue along with dispute resolution 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. Evidently, those brokering the negotiations will have to maintain a balanced approach, avoiding the imposition of preconditions on either side.

Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the key to a series of questions affecting the whole Middle East, without going into the consequences for the wider world.

In the hope that the many problems of the region will finally be resolved by negotiation and dialogue, my delegation further underlines that a lasting solution must include the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem. In light too of the numerous incidents of violence and challenges to free movement posed by the Security Wall, the Holy See renews its support for “internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities” (A/RES/ES-10/2).

Finally, we repeat our call to the international community to facilitate significant negotiations between the conflicting parties. Only with a just and lasting peace – not imposed, but secured through negotiation and reasonable compromise — will the legitimate aspirations of all the peoples of the Holy Land be fulfilled.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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