AS (2012) CR 02
2012 ORDINARY SESSION
Monday 23 January 2012 at 3pm
The following texts were submitted for inclusion in the official report by members who were present in the Chamber but were prevented by lack of time from delivering them.
Mr AVITAL (Observer from Israel) — I want to use these few minutes that I have to describe my perspective on the situation in the Middle East.
Middle East is no longer a code name for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict alone, but a code name for a regional transformation, that we in Israel hope in the end will lead to the betterment of the life of ordinary citizens in the Arab world, and to the advancing of liberal and democratic values in this area. We also hope that this transformation will, in the end, lead and serve the cause of peace and prosperity in our area.
But we in Israel are not naïve – we watch these changes with a watchful eye and we stand on guard, in case this transformation takes the wrong turn; in case the dictatorial regimes, whose time has surely passed, are replaced, God forbid, with populist, extreme and, dangerously, militant regimes. So we have our fears, alongside our hopes, for a true process of democratisation in our area. As I have said before in this Chamber, it is not and never was an integral part of our agenda and national hopes to be the only democracy in the Middle East.
It is in this spirit - the spirit of optimism is a force of change – that we, not without hesitations, welcomed here, only in the last session, the decision made by the Assembly to grant the Palestinian National Authority the status of Partners for Democracy.
It is our hope that the Palestinian National Authority will stand by the commitments it made before the Assembly, and we wish it the best of luck in its endeavour. Its success in democratisation is our success, and can and must further the cause of peace and the prospects for a resolution of this long and bitter conflict between our two nations.
But as to some other major risks populating our region, I must mention here the Iranian nuclear threat. I want to commend the European Union for putting in place an effective set of sanctions against the Iranian regime as long, of course, as it keeps following its nuclear ambitions.
A nuclear weapon in the hands of an extreme regime that calls bluntly and loudly for the destruction of the State of Israel is not only a threat to our nation, but a great threat to the stability and prosperity of all peace-loving democracies. Iran’s imperial ambitions therefore pose a risk not only to us but to the general stability of the world.
I want to emphasise here that Iran has no business in the Middle East, and no business in the conflict, however bitter, between us and the Palestinians. It is for us and our Palestinians neighbours to find a way to resolve – and soon – this long and bitter conflict that has consumed the lives of our two nations for so long.
In conclusion, let me express my hopes that direct negotiations between us and the Palestinians will resume fast.
I want to thank the Council of Europe for the efforts it made and makes to help us and the Palestinians in this joint venture that is so essential to our future. We and the Palestinians are neighbours destined to share a land and the faster we realise that and move in this direction the better it is for us, our region, and the world at large.
Mr OSCARSSON (Sweden) — Seventy years ago, January 1942, 15 Nazi leaders came together in Wannsee, outside Berlin, to co-ordinate the so-called ”final solution”. This was the attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe, an estimated 11 million people. Some 80% of the people who were later killed by the Nazis were still alive in January 1942. By 31 December that same year, 80% of those who were murdered during the Holocaust had been killed. There was a time to move, a window of opportunity. The countries of Europe could have opened their borders to Jewish refuges in 1933, when Hitler came to power, or in 1938, after the Crystal Night.
In 1938, all free countries met in Evian in France — summoned by the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt — to discuss the humanitarian problem of the Jewish refugees. As Hitler had annexed Austria and hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees were seeking a safe haven, the free world knew that something had to be done. It soon became clear that the conference was not going to solve anything. Reading the statements of the delegates today fills you with shame and indignation. Here were the most powerful of nations, and not one lifted a finger to rescue the persecuted. Shamefully, my country, Sweden, was among them.
However, there always seem to be lights in the darkness. One light was Raoul Wallenberg. He was the young Swede who, at only 32 years of age, went to Budapest at the end of the Second World War in order to use passports from neutral Sweden to protect Jews who were threatened with immediate deportation to the death camps. He and his collaborators saved tens of thousands of Jews. Raoul Wallenberg risked his life in the struggle against one of the horrifying ideologies of the 20th century: Nazism. He was killed by the other: Communism.
This year, 2012, is the centenary of Raoul’s birth, on 4 August, and his memory is celebrated as a symbol of courage and unselfishness all over the world. The legacy of Raoul and countless other men and women who performed heroic acts rescuing the persecuted must not die. We must not let the Holocaust be denied, trivialised or forgotten. We must not let world leaders repeat it, even though we know that there are those who want to do so. And we must also work together to prevent the persecution today of other minorities, such as the Christians in Egypt and Pakistan, or those in Nigeria where Boko Haram wants a religiously cleansed north. Our window of opportunity is open now, and we must not ignore it.
Mr SABELLA (Palestinian National Authority, Partner for Democracy) — It is indeed a privilege for me to be here as a member of the Palestinian parliamentary delegation. This is the first time that we are participating in the plenary as partners for democracy. On behalf of my delegation, I wish to congratulate Mr Mignon on his election as President of the Assembly, and also thank Mr Çavuşoğlu for his wise leadership which saw Palestine achieve the status of Partner for Democracy.
We see this as an important development for our people and their legitimate aspirations to statehood on the borders of 4 June 1967. This cannot be achieved without justice. Peace and reconciliation are the fruits of justice, not simply responding to the pressing needs of our people, even though these are important.
We are unfortunately at a very difficult juncture – there is no progress on peace negotiations; illegal settlements are expanding by the hour; the situation in east Jerusalem, as pointed out in a November 2011 report by European Union Consul Generals and representatives to the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah, is dramatic in terms of prospects for normal relations between Arabs and Jews in the city.
Only today, both a colleague of ours in the Palestinian Legislative Council and the ex-minister for Jerusalem affairs were abducted from Red Cross offices in east Jerusalem to be eventually deported to Ramallah. A couple of days back, Dr Aziz Dweik, parliament speaker, was imprisoned. Our colleague Qais Abdelkarim, known to many of you, was twice denied exit from the occupied territories to attend this and other similar meetings.
Yet, because of this dismal situation and political stalemate we look to the Council of Europe to enhance the partnership and co-operation with us in order that the aspirations of our people be realised. We count on your support and partnership. Thank you for your willingness to support our people and our aspirations for statehood.