7.28.2005

Strong International Consensus Backs Two-State Solution in Mideast

State's Brencick expresses U.S. concern over closure of Syria-Lebanon border

A strong international consensus has developed behind President Bush's vision for the establishment of a Palestinian state existing in peace and security alongside Israel, according to William Brencick, political counselor at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

"Right now, the focus of our efforts, as well as those of the international community, is on working toward a successful implementation of the Gaza disengagement plan," Brencick added in his statement to the U.N. Security Council July 21.

He said the central challenge facing the Israeli plan to withdraw from Gaza is improving the security situation.

"[O]verall Palestinian performance confronting terrorism has been far from satisfactory, and this remains an area of concern for us," Brencick said in his statement.

Brencick also expressed deep U.S. concern about Syria's closure of its border with Lebanon.

"This is clearly an attempt by the Syrian government to strangle the economy of Lebanon by impeding trade," Brencick said.

Following is the text of Brencick's statement:

(begin text)

U.S. Department of StateStatement by William Brencick
Political Counselor, U.S. Mission to the United Nations,
In the Security Council
July 21, 2005

The Situation In The Middle East

MR. BRENCICK: The U.S. welcomes the opportunity to discuss comprehensively the situation in the Middle East and reiterate our serious concerns regarding the challenges the international community faces in bringing about a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic region.

With respect to the Israeli-Palestinian situation, it has been three years since President Bush first put forth his vision of two democratic states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace and security. Since then, a strong international consensus has developed behind this vision and behind the road map for peace designed to reach that vision. Both parties have clear obligations under that road map. Progress on the road map and moving toward that vision of two states in peace and security cannot be achieved by rhetoric and blame.

Right now, the focus of our efforts, as well as those of the international community, is on working toward a successful implementation of the Gaza disengagement plan. U.S. Security Coordinator William Ward has been on the ground since March 9 to assist in reforming the security services and to coordinate international assistance in the area. Quartet Special Envoy Jim Wolfensohn has identified six short-term and three longer-term challenges to economic recovery and is working closely with the parties on these issues. Overall progress has been made but much work needs to be done to ensure that this complex operation is a success.

Gaza disengagement holds out the possibility to reenergize the road map and realize real progress towards peace. We believe the road map and existing mechanisms, including the quartet, are the best avenues for moving the parties forward. Everyone here supports this road map, and the Council has specifically endorsed it.

A central challenge to be addressed between now and mid-August remains improving the security situation and creating the conditions that will be conducive to the success of the Disengagement plan.

President Abbas has taken some concrete steps toward security reform, which we encourage. He has made clear that he will hold his security chiefs accountable for their performance in halting attacks on Israelis. However, overall Palestinian performance confronting terrorism has been far from satisfactory, and this remains an area of concern for us.

Turning to the situation in Lebanon, we urge the new Lebanese government to move toward full implementation of UNSCR 1559, including militia disarmament. Our position on Hezbollah has not changed. It is a designated foreign terrorist organization and cannot play a role as a legitimate political actor until it renounces violence and disarms. The recent violent events initiated by Hezbollah along the blue line on June 29 and July 12 underscore the danger this militia poses to international peace and security.

Mr. President, we are also deeply concerned about Syria's closure of its border with Lebanon. Though we welcome legitimate efforts to interdict illicit trade and the movement of terrorists and their assets, the severity of this effort clearly illustrates an ulterior motive on the part of the Syrians. This is clearly an attempt by the Syrian government to strangle the economy of Lebanon by impeding trade across their border, which is Lebanon's gateway to the rest of the Arab world, and a means of continuing to interfere in Lebanese affairs.

This situation underscores the need for the two governments to establish normal and sovereign relations between themselves in order to resolve problems such as this one. At the same time, this is an issue that is affecting Lebanon's trade with other Arab nations and we would expect that they would also make their views known to the Lebanese and Syrian governments.

This is yet another example of Syria interfering in Lebanon. The Syrian government is signaling not only to the Lebanese, but to the rest of the world, that it is still trying to call the shots there.

Thank you, Mr. President.

(end text)

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

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