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The UN

Discussion on UN devlopments with regard to Israel and the Middle East

Palestinian Peace Steps Needed

Wendy, Fri Sep 16, 2005

Sharon at the UN--a balanced article

Sharon Tells U.N. It's Time for Palestinian Peace Steps New York Times, September 16, 2005 by JOEL BRINKLEY

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 15 - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel spoke Thursday to the General Assembly, a body he has long considered a tool of the enemy, and challenged the Palestinians to demonstrate their commitment to peace now that Israel has completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

"The State of Israel proved that it is willing to make painful concessions in order to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians," he said, his tone confident and firm. "I call on the Palestinian leadership to show determination and leadership and to eliminate terror, violence and the culture of hatred from our relations."

The audience reaction was polite, as is the custom here, but even that might have been more than Mr. Sharon would have expected in the past.

Through several decades in public life, Mr. Sharon had never before spoken to the United Nations. Just a few months ago it might have seemed unthinkable that he would stand before the world forum that has tried to pass countless resolutions criticizing Israel and precious few aimed at the Palestinians, in the Israeli view.

But this week, he said, numerous world leaders, including some from Islamic nations, have approached him in the halls of the United Nations building, asking to shake his hand and congratulating him on Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. Mr. Sharon, in an interview later, said he was pleased by that reception, though he declined to name the other leaders.

Nonetheless, in his address, Mr. Sharon could not help but refer to Israel's sorry history with the United Nations.

He said Israelis had not forgotten "dozens of harsh and unjust decisions made by the United Nations over the years." Referring to Iran, he added: "We know that, even today, there are those who sit here as representatives of a country whose leadership calls to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. And no one speaks out."

In the speech and in the interview, he described the decision to withdraw from Gaza as painful - "very hard, very hard and complicated."

But to the United Nations, he insisted, "Now it is the Palestinians' turn to prove the desire for peace."

While Mr. Sharon's speech was more conciliatory toward the Palestinians than is his custom, he said little to suggest that Israel planned any more conciliatory moves toward the Palestinians right now, though he did say that following a path toward peace was "my calling and primary mission for coming years."

His remarks brought criticism from some of his right-wing opponents in Israel. Furthermore, unless Mr. Sharon announces new concessions to coincide with any serious actions toward peace that the Palestinians may take, he could find himself in conflict with the Bush administration.

In recent weeks, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said several times that she expects Israel and the Palestinians to take simultaneous steps toward peace in the months ahead.

Israel, she said in an interview last month, should withdraw from more West Bank cities and loosen roadblocks and checkpoints that restrict Palestinian travel, while Palestinian authorities should disarm Hamas and other Palestinian factions intent on continuing the uprising and should work to govern Gaza responsibly.

In the interview, Mr. Sharon's voice turned hard as he said: "The focus should be on Gaza now. It is the time now for the Palestinians to take steps to show they can rule. We left Gaza. We are not there. They will be tested now. Can they run a country? Can they stop the violence?"

Mr. Sharon did reiterate that Israel "is committed to the road map," referring to the peace plan that the United States and its allies proposed in 2003, "and the Sharm el Sheik understandings" early this year. At Sharm el Sheik, an Egyptian city on the Red Sea, Israel agreed to release some Palestinian prisoners and to withdraw from five West Bank cities.

In his speech, Mr. Sharon made no obvious effort to tailor his remarks to curry favor with the other leaders meeting at the United Nations this week. He did not back away from positions that many here oppose. He opened his address by noting, "I arrived here from Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, and the undivided and eternal capital of the State of Israel."

Palestinians hope to establish the capital of their state in part of Jerusalem, and many nations represented here are sympathetic to that goal.

Nasser al-Kidwa, the Palestinian Authority's foreign minister, sat silently through the speech and at its end folded his arms and did not join in the applause. Later, Mr. Sharon offered a long and impassioned defense of Israel's security fence, which surrounds much of the West Bank and in many places cuts into it. Israel's high court ruled Thursday that Israel must reroute part of it.

"We will continue to build it until it is completed," he said, "as would any other country defending its citizens."

But in the end the prime minister returned to the difficulties that have prevented him from appearing here before now.

"I hope," he said to the General Assembly, "that the comprehensive reforms that the United Nations is undergoing in its 60th anniversary year will include a fundamental change and improvement in the approach of the United Nations, its organizations and institutions, toward the State of Israel."

Later, he said: "It was important for people to hear it. It was important that I say it clearly."

Other articles in this section

The U.N. discovers the cause of anti-Semitism: Jews By ANNE BAYEFSKY, Opinion Journal, November 18, 2004

Useful quotes made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Elie Wiesel on the UN and antisemitism

The UN's Jewish Problem Ruth R. Wisse, Weekly Standard, March 31/02 (04/08/2002, Volume 007, Issue 29)

Israel faces rampant discrimination at the United Nations Julian Schvindlerman, the Miami Herald, November 1, 2002.

A Typical UN Press Release Forum Post by Wendy, Thu Aug 25, 2005

British diplomats push Annan for a 'no excuses' definition of terrorism By Charles Laurence, Sunday Telegraph, 24 July 2005

UN Record on Israel and Arab East Jerusalem Forum Posts by Oboler, Wendy, Aug 25, 2005

Some good news, Dan Gillerman appointment Forum Posts by Wendy Sept 2005 + JPosy article

ADL suggestions for reforming the UN Forum Posts by Wendy Sept 2005

Sharon and Peace at the UN Forum Posts by Wendy Sept 2005 and article New York Times, September 16, 2005 By JOEL BRINKLEY

The UN's Palestinian Problem Forum Posts by Wendy October 2005 and article

Australia for Israel at the UN Forum Posts by Miriam downunder and Wendy October 2005 and article from The Australian

Canada to reject anti-Israel UN resolutions Forum Posts by Wendy visiting Canada December 2005 and article

Bauer on UN antisemitism From lecture notes on antisemitism

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