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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
First of all, I would like to congratulate you for assuming the presidency of the Security Council for the month of January and also to express my appreciation to you and the other Members of the Security Council for this opportunity to address this chamber on a matter that is of grave importance to all of us - the peace, security and stability of the Middle East, including the Question of Palestine. I also wish to thank Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe for his useful briefing that set the tone of today’s open debate.
At the outset, the Philippines associates itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished permanent representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt on behalf of the Non-Align Movement but at the same time wishes to stress on certain points.
The timing of Security Council open debate today is indeed apt and well-chosen. As we enter the New Year with renewed hope and resolution to work harder to attain international peace and security, there is no better choice than to start our discussion with the situation in the Middle East and the Question of Palestineinasmuch as it is one of the most sensitive and long-running issues in the agenda of the United Nations. Since it has become a permanent fixture in the UN agenda, however, there is a danger that we sometimes deal with the issue more in a ritualistic and mechanical manner, thereby losing the urgency and relevance that it truly deserves. Despite years of debate and substantial energy and resources spent, the resolution of this problem still remains elusive.
In our highly interdependent and networked world, geographical distance and remoteness no longer isolates countries and regions from developments in others. As a major source of oil and a big market for exports and services for many countries, including the Philippines, the stability and progress of the Middle East is essential for world peace and security. More than two million of my countrymen and countrywomen live and work in the Middle East, the Philippine Government therefore attaches great importance to the security and safety of every Filipino citizen in that region.
The road map to peace between Israel and Palestine has so far been hampered with obstacles and difficulties. Time and patience seem running out which, if not addressed, could unfortunately lead to greater tension and hostility and worse, armed conflict. This impatience is reflected by the growing view that if Israel and Palestine could not come to terms, then the outside world has no choice but to impose peace on them. But history teaches us that peace to be durable and long-lasting must come from within and not from without.
The Philippines shares with the Palestinian people their legitimate aspirations to achieve justice, peace and freedom. The Philippines has for many years joined in the global clamor for the establishment of a Palestinian homeland to help alleviate the dire situation of the Palestinian people. In this regard, like other like-minded states, the Philippines considers the “Two-State Solution” as an effective answer to the peace problem. The Philippines has also repeatedly expressed its support for the complete and unconditional lifting of the blockade imposed by the State of Israel on the occupied Palestinian territories, especially Gaza. The embargo is counterproductive and it only serves to collectively punish the hapless civilians, particularly women and children in Gaza.
As the international community anxiously awaits any breakthroughs in the peace talks between Israel and Palestine, I wish to point out one important building block in the foundation of a long-lasting peace and stability of the Middle East. I am referring to the goal of making the region free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
One of the tangible achievements of the successfully concluded 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was how to make progress on the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East which calls for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. The Philippines views the road to the establishment of this nuclear-free zone as a confidence-building measure can co-exist with the on-going peace process in the region. That is why the Resolution on the Middle East in the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of NPT says: “ The Conference reaffirms its endorsement of the aims and objectives of the Middle East Peace Process and recognizes that efforts in this regard, as well as other efforts, contribute to, inter alia, a Middle East Zone free of nuclear weapons as well as other weapons of mass destruction.”
In this regard, I wish to highlight the following key points agreed to on the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East at the 2010 NPT Review Conference:
Time is ticking away and 2012 is just around the corner. The Philippines therefore urges the UN Secretary-General, the three depository states and the concerned delegations to carry out the tasks that have been assigned to them by the 2010 NPT Review Conference with haste while at the same time, taking utmost care to ensure that these are done well and that the countries in the region are consulted as stated in the NPT outcome document.
The Philippines understands that for the 2012 Conference to be successful, all nations in the region must attend, participate, and negotiate in a forthright give-and-take manner. The Conference should not be turned into a blaming and naming forum where participating delegations are singled out and condemned. Participants need to come to the Conference with an open mind and a sincere desire to negotiate.
The 2012 Conference presents a rare chance to show the seriousness and goodwill of all stakeholders. I strongly encourage the countries in the region and the three depository States of the 1995 Middle East Resolution to participate and strive to achieve a meaningful outcome. Not only is it important that they participate, but they must attend the Conference with an open mind and heart. In essence, all countries concerned must all be well prepared to make peace. The Conference is a fresh start for all and once again I urge all concerned Member States to seize this rare opportunity.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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