I come to the Council at a time when I think it will be very well understood that the United States of America, President Bush and myself personally have been very committed to the Annapolis process and to finding a lasting and permanent peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the establishment of a Palestinian State to live side by side in peace, security and democracy with the people of Israel.
I come to the Council at a time when we can all look back on just one year ago when there was no peace process. Now there is a viable, robust peace process. I come to the Council at a time when Israelis and Palestinians are continuing their negotiations towards the establishment of a two-State solution despite complications on both sides. I note, for instance, the meeting between President Peres and President Abu Mazen earlier today and the meeting earlier this week between Foreign Minister Livni and Abu Alaa. I note also that President Bush met yesterday with President Abbas and that I will do so later today.
I want to note also that the Quartet will meet later today to discuss the Annapolis process and how to bring support to the parties as they seek a comprehensive peace. The Quartet is the proper forum for those discussions and I very much look forward to that meeting later on today. I want to note that the Annapolis process expects not only political negotiations, but also progress on the ground, particularly for people of the Palestinian territories, and the fulfilment of road map obligations. The United States’ position on the fulfilment of those obligations by both Israel and the Palestinians is very clear. We have spoken to them.
I want to note, too, that the international community has other obligations and we need to make certain that we remain focused on them. First, we must support the parties in their bilateral negotiations so that they might come to a lasting peace. Secondly, we must to insist that all parties live up to their road map obligations. Thirdly, we must provide financial assistance, particularly to the Palestinian National Authority. Here, I would like to note that the United States has provided historic levels of assistance to the Authority, including through mechanisms that we have never used before: direct budget support from the American taxpayer to the Palestinian Authority. I would hope that the States of the region will completely fulfil their pledges in an expeditious manner so that the Palestinian Authority can, under the Government of Salam Fayyad, meet its obligations to its people.
However, the international community has other obligations as well. I ask that States of the region — and our Arab colleagues in particular — consider ways that they might reach out to Israel to demonstrate, in word and deed, that it is understood that a comprehensive solution requires full understanding that Israel belongs in the Middle East and will remain in the Middle East as a valued partner. In that regard, I take note of the Arab peace initiative, which is an important step in that direction, but I hope that more can be done.
Finally, it is certainly the obligation of the international community to speak loudly and firmly against terrorism and extremism in all their forms. The taking of innocent life is never acceptable, whatever its justification.
Just as unacceptable is the kind of language that was heard in the General Assembly yet again this week. The President of Iran — who unfortunately represents a great people, the Iranian people, who, as a whole, I believe, do not hold his views — said that another Member of the United Nations should be wiped from the face of the map, destroyed and should not exist. That is simply unacceptable. When the Security Council decides what really needs to taken up as a threat to international peace and security, I believe that that should be at the top of the list.
The United States of America will be asking that the Council convene again to take up the matter of one Member of the United Nations calling for the destruction of another Member of the United Nations in a way that simply should not be allowed, if I may be pardoned for saying so in polite company.
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