The Palestinian question and the civil war in Syria made up the ‘chorus lines’ of every Arab speech made at the U.N. General Assembly, in its sixty-seventh session this year.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, Emir of Qatar, was the first Arab speaker. He presented the outline of the Arab position. Then Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalif was the last Arab leaders I heard speak, and his address remained within this outline.
Sheikh Hamad said that the region’s core problem remained the Palestinian question, and spoke about the Israeli occupation and settlement, and Israel’s refusal to negotiate.
The emir of Qatar then asked about the reason why the international community was doing nothing to enforce international resolutions, for example with the U.N. Security Council issuing a resolution under Chapter VII to end the blockade on the Gaza Strip, put an end to settlement activity or put the peace process back on track.
Sheikh Hamad also called for an Arab political and military intervention in Syria, to end the bloodshed and secure a peaceful transition of power, urging all U.N. Member States to provide all kinds of support to the Syrian people, until their legitimate rights are fulfilled.
Sheikh Khalid said, “The Syrian Crisis is the primary issue these days, but Palestine and the suffering of its people are still the main issue for the Arabs,” and called for a just, lasting and comprehensive solution that would lead to the establishment of an independent state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.
The Palestinian question has the support of a clear global majority. What I saw last year at the U.N. General Assembly was repeated this year. When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas entered the hall to give Palestine’s address, the delegates applauded him for a long time, both inside the hall and outside it, and interrupted his speech with applause eight times.
Mahmoud Abbas said that he spoke on behalf of an angry people, and gave examples of the brutal crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation, including, for instance, 535 assaults by terrorist settler militias against civilians, mosques, churches, monasteries, homes and schools, and even trees and fields, with the complicity of the Israeli occupation forces and the government.
Abbas stressed that Israel rejected the two-state solution, although the Palestinians had accepted a state on only 22 percent of their land. He called on the international community to intervene, because Israel was preparing a new Nakbah, or catastrophe, for the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian President was followed by war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu after another speaker. […] The war criminal who represents an invented state occupying an entire country and persecuting its people, with a confirmed nuclear arsenal, spoke about Iran’s nuclear program and what is in its possession or not yet in its possession. He incited action against the Persian nation, although he is at the head of a neo-Nazi government, and the last remaining apartheid in the world today.
I could not bear to see Netanyahu and hear his speech, so I left.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati tried to keep his distance from Netanyahu and his filth. When he found out that his speech had been scheduled in the morning, close to the timing of the speech of the Israeli prime minister, he asked for his address to be delayed to the afternoon.
I sat for one hour with the family of the Lebanese prime minister and friends, waiting for his turn to come. I also sat for an hour with the family of Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad and other friends in the evening, also waiting for his turn to deliver his speech. These two hours were the best thing about that day.
I was personally pleased to see Libya’s new delegation, and Dr. Mohamed Maqrif, the leader of the National Congress, did not tear apart the U.N. Charter at the rostrum. Instead, he reminded us of what Muammar Qaddafi had perpetrated two years ago, and spoke about the suffering of the Libyan people under the previous regime.
He also thanked the countries that have supported his people’s revolution, and overall, he kept to the main gist of all the Arab addresses in speaking about the suffering of the Palestinian people under the occupation, calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibility over the ongoing Israeli violations.
When I checked the text of Maqrif’s address in the Arab version, I found that Israel was placed between two small quotation marks in denial or denunciation of it, and I agree with this.
Our newspaper, al-Hayat, had published excerpts from the addresses of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, and Iraqi Vice President Khudair Khuzaie. I will therefore not add anything more about this, but I want to say that the Arab addresses were balanced in presenting the problems and what is required to address them.
Nevertheless, I do not believe that there is any quick solution to Israeli Nazism, Iranian recklessness, or the bloodshed in Syria. Instead, I expect more of what is happening to us, before we can see a breakthrough, where Arab peoples would reap the fruits of their revolutions.
This is so that no revolutions may break out against the Arab Spring itself, which I believe, until further notice, does not deserve its name.
The writer is a columnist at the London-based al-Hayat, where this article was published on Sept. 30, 2012