Remarks by Ambassador Odeen Ishmael of Guyana at the United Nations Latin American and Caribbean Meeting on the Question of Palestine
Caracas, Venezuela, 13 December 2005
On behalf of the delegation of Guyana, I thank the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for hosting this very important meeting which gives representatives of Latin American and Caribbean countries the opportunity to express their views on the Palestinian question.
It is particularly important that this forum is convened in the region of the Caribbean which has traditionally rendered support and solidarity to the cause of the Palestinian people. My country, as an integral member of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), at all international forums, has spoken up in support of a Palestinian state. And so has Caricom as a regional body whose heads of government have consistently issued statements calling for the recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent state.
The situation in the Middle East and the hardships faced by the Palestinian people, in particular, continue to cause my Government great concern. Guyana stands firm in support of the long-suffering people of Palestine. We encourage the international community to take coherent and forceful steps to restoring the political process and assist both the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a fair and viable agreement. For indeed, lasting peace cannot be achieved by confrontation and reprisals, but by a commitment to diplomacy, negotiation, cooperation and respect for international law. Guyana unequivocally supports the struggle of the Palestinian people to attain their inalienable rights, including their right to return to their homeland, and to peacefully exist in an independent state.
As we consider the situation of the Palestinian people, this conference must be greatly concerned about the plight of these long-suffering people in their woefully unequal struggle with Israel. The United Nations Secretary-General has already cautioned us against the political dangers of confusing the term "terrorism" with the struggle of the Palestinian people to win their right of national self-determination guaranteed by international law, a right which every single state represented here is already enjoying. Palestinian Authority leaders have persistently condemned the activities of suicide bombers, not only on humanitarian grounds, but also because they are inimical to the interests of the Palestinian people. And isn't it ironic and a cause for lamentation that repeated calls are made only upon the Palestinian Authority to put down terrorism? Terrorism is also applied on the Palestinian people, but the international media and the international community generally do not pay equal attention when terrorist atrocities applied by fighter jets and tanks are inflicted on these unfortunate people.
The Government of Guyana notes with great interest the peace proposal and concessions that the Palestinian Authority has presented to the United States Government some time ago. The main elements of this proposal include Israeli withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 armistice line, with an allowance for minor, reciprocal adjustments and security cooperation arrangements in which international forces will play a central role in monitoring operations.
All of these have to be achieved by dialogue, and the sooner this process can begin, the better it will be for not only both sides but for the entire Middle East region. Without a doubt, the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people is the key to absolute peace in the Middle East.
It is noteworthy that this meeting is held under the auspices of the United Nations since the United Nations itself has a crucial role in protecting the rights of the Palestinian people. The role of the United Nations system has become increasingly important in addressing the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians, given the deteriorating economic and social conditions confronting them. The humanitarian work performed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides Palestinian refugees in the Near East with social services, health care, and schooling, is now even more vital. It is unfortunate that the Agency has been encountering difficulties when performing its duties due to restrictions placed in its way, but we hope that efforts will be made to ease these constraints so that the staff can perform their duties unhindered. We also hope that the Agency would be provided with the funding necessary to enable it to continue to perform its humanitarian work.
As I said at the beginning, it is of significance that this conference is being held in this region. Certainly, it will engender a Latin American and Caribbean perspective on the question of Palestine. It will also enable all of us in this part of the world to reaffirm our solidarity and support for the Palestinian people, and to raise our voices to demand that these long suffering people be allowed to live in dignity in their own independent state.
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