Delegates Highlight Peacekeeping Budget Cuts amid Increasingly Complex Challenges, as Fourth Committee Continues Comprehensive Review

Shrinking budgets are at odds with increasingly complex peace operations, delegates warned today, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its general debate on the comprehensive review of United Nations peacekeeping.

The delegate of the United Republic of Tanzania pointed out that while operational tasks remain the same, most missions are not well-resourced and the reduced force levels are overstretched and more vulnerable. Emphasizing that the reduction of force levels must be clearly informed by the situation on the ground, he said they must not be at the expense of lives, whether those of troops or innocent people.

In similar vein, Pakistan's representative warned that arbitrary cuts in peacekeeping funding risk diminishing effectiveness and jeopardizing the safety of troops. She went on to contrast the comparatively high cost of waging war with the low investment in peacekeeping activities.

Argentina's delegate said he has observed a trend of demanding improved performance from peacekeeping missions carrying out a growing number of tasks in complex environments, while budgetary appropriations for their operations remain frozen.

Cambodia's representative described sufficient resources and budgeting as a prerequisite for the success of mandated peacekeeping operations, calling for improved and adequate equipment, health facilities as well as proper predeployment training for peacekeeping troops.

Agreeing, Paraguay's delegate said that increasingly complex realities require new measures � including better risk assessment, identification of threats, predeployment training and better equipment � to ensure the ability of troops to carry out their tasks safely.

Mali's representative pointed out that his country hosts the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), one of the largest peace operations. Its peacekeepers face a complex environment marked by asymmetric threats, he observed. He called for sufficient resources and materials for the Mission, highlighting the importance of adapting peacekeeping mandates to new challenges.

Many delegates voiced support for enhanced female participation in all stages of peacekeeping and peacebuilding, with Sri Lanka's representative noting that the inclusion of women is vital and can contribute to solving sexual exploitation and abuse issues. Norway's delegate urged the immediate creation of a permanent gender adviser position in all operational headquarters, recalling that a recent study conducted by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces identifies challenges and barriers to the recruitment of female peacekeeping troops.

Also speaking today were representatives of Colombia, Syria, Republic of Korea, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Singapore, Eritrea, Israel, Brazil, Jordan, China, Peru, Tunisia, Lebanon, Mongolia and Egypt.

Representatives of Israel, Syria and Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 1 November, to continue its general debate on the comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.

General Debate

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that as one of the largest and most consistent troop-contributing countries for almost six decades, her country has contributed more than 200,000 troops and co-hosted, with India, one of the earliest United Nations missions. Peacekeeping missions require clearly prioritized and sequenced mandates with effective triangular cooperation and the involvement of troop-contributing countries, she said. Political solutions are essential for sustained peace, she added, underscoring the importance of addressing the root causes of any conflict. Warning that arbitrary cuts in peacekeeping funding risk diminishing effectiveness and jeopardizing the safety of troops, she contrasted the comparatively high expense of war with the low investment in peacekeeping activities. She went on to emphasize that protection-of-civilian mandates do not absolve host States of their responsibility to protect civilians.

GUILLERMO FERNA�NDEZ DE SOTO (Colombia), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the scale of United Nations peacekeeping endeavours requires the Organization to adjust to new realities by improving chain-of-command policies, training and operational behaviour while ensuring clarity on the use of force. All that depends on the good reputation and credibility of the troops and the United Nations, he added, emphasizing that organizational efforts to maintain peace must be geared towards prevention and quick response. Noting that the original mandate entrusted to the Security Council continues to play a fundamental role in the pursuit of sustainable peace around the world, he said Colombia has been a troop-contributing country since 2006 and has also provided technical support to other peacekeeping missions, he said, reiterating his country's readiness to deploy personnel to any peacekeeping operation and to contribute their expertise in a broader context through lessons learned.

MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said peacekeeping operations should abide strictly by United Nations Charter principles to avoid interference in the internal affairs of States. In that regard, prior Government consent must be obtained in countries where peacekeeping troops are deployed, he said, adding that his country has always supported all such efforts. Noting that many United Nations peacekeeping operations are designed to protect civilians, he warned against using that concept as a pretext to legitimize actions contravening the Charter. Before developing frameworks or criteria for protecting civilians, a common legal definition of that term must be reached, he emphasized. Turning to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), he said guidelines regulating its work must be observed. He noted that Israel continues to occupy Arab territories, describing the occupation as the main reason for the existence of three peacekeeping missions in the Middle East. On 30 October, he said, Israel used bombs, toxic gases, beatings and detention in the Syrian Golan, because of the people's refusal to abide by farcical local Israeli elections. Moreover, the evacuation of UNDOF from certain sites was caused by Israel's support for terrorist groups in the separation area. That support constitutes a flagrant violation of the disengagement agreement as well as international law, and undermines the Force's mandate, he stressed.

CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea) emphasized that ongoing reform efforts should lead to more coherent and effective peacekeeping, placing a greater focus on prevention and sustaining peace. In reaching that end, peacekeeping capabilities must be enhanced to better meet their mandates in today's complex and high-risk environment, he said, stressing also the importance of prioritizing better training, new technologies and increased engagement with local communities. Peacekeeping mandates must be designed as part of a broader political strategy considering the entire peace continuum from prevention and peacekeeping to peacebuilding and long-term development, he continued, adding that such a strategy could guide efforts to determine the division of labour among missions, United Nations country teams and other relevant actors, including the Peacebuilding Commission. Referring to the multidimensional challenges facing today's operations, he said effective peacekeeping requires shared responsibility among all actors, including regional and subregional organizations and especially the African Union.

RODRIGO ALBERTO CARAZO ZELEDA�N (Costa Rica), associating himself with CELAC, said peacekeeping operations have had to change over the years to meet the challenges of new conflicts. The Secretary-General's reforms will make operations more effective and coordinated, he said, emphasizing the need for clear mandates with a people-centred approach ensuring local ownership of peace processes. The participation of women is fundamental at all stages of that process, he said, emphasizing the critical need for a gender perspective at every level of response. Peace and sustainability will be achieved through policies of inclusion, he continued, advocating also the inclusion of young people in peace processes undertaken by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Welcoming measures to ensure a rapid response to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, he underlined that such misconduct harms the Organization's credibility, calling for perpetrators to be subjected to criminal proceedings.

YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) expressed hope that the Action for Peacekeeping Declaration will reinforce the collective commitment of Member States to strengthening the bond linking all peacekeeping stakeholders. The Secretariat must provide the Security Council with timely, frank and substantive reports on peacekeeping operations, he said, adding that the issue of strategic force generation is an integral part of the reforms. He went on to underscore the need for proper funding of peacekeeping operations. Mandate implementation must be closely monitored and assessed so that those in need of structural reform can be identified, he said, emphasizing also the importance of triangular dialogue among the Council, the Secretariat and troop-contributing countries. Recalling Ukraine's request that the Department deploy a United Nations peacekeeping mission to Donbas, he said that such a deployment will serve as evidence of the Organization's ability to act in accordance with its mandate in challenging conflict situations. A United Nations-mandated peacekeeping operation in Donbas could be a decisive factor in bringing peace to Ukraine, he said.

MARTA�N GARCA�A MORITA�N (Argentina), associating with CELAC, said his delegation has observed a trend of demanding improved performance from peacekeeping operations carrying out a growing number of tasks in complex environments, while their budgetary appropriations are frozen. Highlighting the need for more effective and flexible missions with clear parameters for staff and host States, he called for sufficient lead time for planning purposes, based on established priorities and in consultation with troop- and police-contributing countries. Moreover, operations must be designed and implemented as part of a broader strategy towards peaceful settlement of disputes. Expressing support for the Secretary-General's zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse and exploitation, he said Argentina has signed the voluntary compact. Turning to civilian protection, he said it should be considered from a political and humanitarian perspective, and called upon all Member States to reach a common understanding of the concept, especially in cases requiring the use of force.

TRACY QUEK (Singapore), associating herself with the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that her country has sent more than 2,000 personnel to 15 peacekeeping missions since 1989. Moreover, Singapore has participated in such multilateral peace support efforts as Combined Task Force 151 in the Gulf of Aden and the Defeat-ISIS Coalition [Global Coalition Working to Defeat ISIS]. It has also collaborated with the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support in developing the NOTICAS application, which is designed to enhance the efficiency of casualty reporting across missions, she said. Encouraging the Secretariat, the Security Council as well as troop- and police-contributing countries to improve triangular cooperation, she said the General Assembly must also fulfil its financial obligations to peacekeeping in full, on time and without conditions.

JULIO CA�SAR ARRIOLA RAMA�REZ (Paraguay), associating himself with CELAC, said his country attaches priority to the efficient implementation of peacekeeping mandates. To that end, Paraguay has created an operational centre for the joint training of peacekeeping troops with the main task of predeployment training of military and police personnel, with a special emphasis on ethical conduct, he said. Paraguay contributes personnel, including female officers, to various missions, he added. Turning to the safety of peacekeeping troops, he recalled that many have lost their lives despite the Blue Helmets being the best-known symbol of the United Nations. Increasingly complex realities require new measures to ensure that troops can carry out their tasks safely, he emphasized, citing better risk assessment, identification of threats, predeployment training and better equipment.

SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, urged the international community to heed the root causes of instability and conflict. Peacekeeping operations must be deployed in support of, not instead of, active diplomatic efforts, she said, emphasizing that they should recognize the primacy of politics and strengthen the rule of law in the aftermath of conflict. Underlining the importance of protecting children, she said countries receiving peacekeepers should own the process and their plans should focus on bolstering national institutions and addressing issues of restorative justice and reconciliation. The inclusion of women at all levels of peacekeeping and peacebuilding is vital, she stressed, saying it can contribute to solving sexual exploitation and abuse issues, which Sri Lanka has addressed by implementing, among other measures, a stringent vetting procedure for peacekeeping troops.

SOKSAMPHEA LAO (Cambodia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said his country has sent thousands of Blue Helmets to join peacekeeping missions. Observing that United Nations peacekeeping missions encounter stalled political processes and direct attacks by transnational actors, he called for extensive collaboration in partnerships with regional and subregional organizations to mobilize greater political support. Moreover, sufficient resources and budgeting constitute a prerequisite for ensuring the success of mandated peacekeeping operations. Expressing support for reform in that context, he also called for improvements in terms of supplying adequate equipment, health facilities and proper predeployment training. Close dialogue among the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and troop-contributing countries is necessary to address gaps and provide appropriate solutions, he said.

ELSA HAILE (Eritrea), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said threats to peace and security are increasingly complex, and in that context, peacekeeping must adapt while adhering strictly to its Charter principles: respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of force except for purposes of self-defence and protecting the mandate. Missions must be deployed with clear and achievable mandates, adequate financing and capabilities, wide political support and a clear exit strategy, she emphasized. Further, they should focus on prevention and address the root causes of conflict, prioritizing long-term development. She cautioned against deployment of troops from neighbouring countries in cases where national interest might trump regional peace objectives. Eritrea condemns all forms of sexual exploitation committed by United Nations personnel and strongly supports the inclusion of women in peacekeeping operations, she added.

MODEST JONATHAN MERO (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said peacekeeping mandates must consider specific mission requirements in order to ensure the safety of peacekeepers. He appeal to the United Nations to put in place a workable mechanism to facilitate the partnership linking the United Nations, Member States and such regional bodies as the African Union. Noting that peacekeeping missions are being downsized due to budgetary constraints, he said that does not reflect the actual security situation on the ground. While operational tasks remain the same, most missions are not well-resourced and the reduced force levels are overstretched and more vulnerable, he cautioned. The reduction of force levels must be clearly informed by the situation on the ground, not at the expense of lives, whether those of troops or innocent people, he emphasized. All missions should have credible and timely all-weather contingency capabilities to provide support and reinforcement to troops, both in day and night operations, he said, stressing that the United Nations, Member States and the international community must ensure that all missions are adequately resourced and equipped.

ISAAC BACHMAN (Israel), noting that United Nations missions are mandated to keep peace on his country's borders with Lebanon and Syria, said both neighbouring countries are riddled with non-State actors armed by Iran, as are Yemen, Iraq and the Gaza Strip. Until an operation that deals directly with that problem is endorsed, he said, existing missions in the Middle East must implement their mandates fully and effectively, especially when dealing with Iran-backed militias that often possess more advanced weaponry than do State actors. He thanked the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and troop-contributing countries for maintaining the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) between Israel and Syria, pledging that his country will continue to work closely with it and to facilitate redeployment in the area of separation, as stipulated by the Security Council. He emphasized that Israel will protect its borders against unwanted violent actors and hold Syria responsible for any action against it, including violations in the separation area. He also thanked contributors to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), stressing his country's commitment to Council resolution 1701 (2006). In that context, he urged that the Mission fully implement its mandate, explaining that Hizbullah continues to place much of its unprecedented arsenal exceeding 150,000 missiles and rockets in populated areas, using civilians as human shields. It is vital that UNIFIL report accurately on realities on the ground, including areas where it is denied access, he said, emphasizing that only then can the threat be addressed effectively.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) noted that more than 55,000 Brazilians have taken part in over 40 United Nations peacekeeping operations, including leading the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) as the main troop provider over its 13-year-long existence. Brazil currently leads the Maritime Task Force of UNIFIL, providing its flagship vessel, and a Brazilian general is the Force Commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). That vast experience is the key to developing an integrated perspective of peace processes, which do not depend solely on military means, he said. With peacekeeping missions operating in increasingly volatile and hostile environments, and their resources stretched, Brazil offers partnerships in training, he said. Reiterating the strongest possible condemnation of all gender-based violence by peacekeepers, he called for perpetrators to be brought to justice.

MOHANNAD ADNAN MOUSA SHADDAD (Jordan) said his country has participated in peacekeeping operations for decades, contributing more than 100,000 personnel. Emphasizing that troop-contributing countries should not shoulder sole responsibility for United Nations peacekeeping operations, he highlighted the importance of triangular cooperation in that regard. Jordan supports the Secretary-General's reform efforts and his Action for Peace initiative, he said, while emphasizing that peacekeeping operations are no alternative to finding solutions to the root causes of conflicts. Jordan is also committed to the gender agenda, he added, noting that his country will meet the 15 per cent target for female representation and expressing support for the Secretary-General's zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.

ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that his country hosts the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), one of the largest peace operations. Its peacekeepers face a complex environment marked by asymmetric threats, he observed. Welcoming Security Council resolution 2423 (2018) renewing MINUSMA's mandate, he said it strengthens support for the Blue Helmets. Highlighting the importance of adapting peacekeeping mandates to new challenges, he called for sufficient resources and materials in that context. A mission's success falls to the collective but differentiated responsibility of all actors involved, he said, calling for regular consultations among all stakeholders throughout the planning and implementation process. He also welcomed the strategic partnerships linking the United Nations, the African Union and Group of Five for the Sahel (G5-Sahel). Noting that funding represents the main challenge in that regard, he advocated robust mandates and predictable and sustainable funding for all peacekeeping operations in Africa, particularly for the joint force of the G5-Sahel.

WU HAITAO (China) said peacekeeping operations must be carried out in alignment with the United Nations principles of non-interference and respect for sovereignty. That approach will win the confidence of Member States, he said, adding that peacekeeping operations must respect host countries. If a host State requests the exit of a peacekeeping operation, an exit strategy must be created immediately, he emphasized. Furthermore, troop-contributing countries must have a bigger say in terms of operations, including the needs and requests of developing countries, and the African Union must have support to enhance capacity-building on that continent, he said. In addition, the Secretariat must provide peacekeeping forces with better and more predictable support, bearing in mind the overall picture and aim of peacekeeping operations, by improving logistical support and maximizing results. Targeted training as well as safety measures and medical capabilities, including treatment and evacuation, must be improved, he stressed. Describing his country as a major troop-contributing country, he reiterated its support for the China-United Nations Peace and Development Trust Fund, saying it provides enhanced peacekeeping capabilities for developing countries, including African States.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that any agenda for peace must include comprehensive plans for the entire process. Expressing support for the Secretary-General's reforms, including the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, he said it will increase the effectiveness of operations. Emphasizing that predeployment training is essential for the success of missions, he reported that Peru has been working through its peace training centre to ensure that its troops are instructed thoroughly on the protection of the most vulnerable populations. He went on to reiterate Peru's commitment to combating sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations. Peru signed the voluntary compact to punish the perpetrators of such crimes, enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on the issue, he noted. Missions must be able to adjust to changing situations through advanced technology, rapid response, modern warning systems and strategic withdrawal plans, he said. Underlining that performance evaluation must not be a punitive tool, he said it should instead fill gaps in training. The presence of more women in peacekeeping operations is essential for promoting prevention and sustaining peace, he added.

MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said peacekeeping operations must be conducted in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, particularly those relating to consent, impartiality and non-use of force unless allowed under international law. Peace operations must receive clear and objective mandates, as well as suitable resources. He also called for building capacity to better protect Blue Helmets, noting that they face unprecedented threats in conflict zones. Emphasizing that human rights must be respected, he said peacekeeping operations must stand against all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation. Tunisia currently participates in six peacekeeping missions and plans to expand its contingent and step up staff training in that regard, he said. Welcoming the joint framework signed by the United Nations and the African Union, he encouraged other such partnerships and called for suitable means for funding them.

AMAL MUDALALLI (Lebanon), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said peacekeeping operations represent a useful instrument for de-escalating crises, adding that optimizing it requires true partnership and coordination among all stakeholders. Calling for more balance in the representation of women in peacekeeping operations, she urged enhanced accountability to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, commending the steps already taken by the Secretariat in that context. Peacekeeping must not constitute an alternative to peacebuilding, she said, emphasizing that, instead, conflicts must be prevented by addressing their root causes. Noting that her country hosts the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), she recalled that the Security Council extended its mandate for another year in August, demonstrating the international community's support. The problem lies on the other side of the Blue Line, she said, recalling that the Secretary-General has called upon Israel to end its aggression. In that context, she urged the international community to exert pressure on that country to end to its occupation and daily violations of Lebanon's sovereignty on land, sea and in the air.

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, noted the complex environments in which United Nations peacekeeping missions operate amid asymmetric and unconventional threats, emphasizing that identifying peacekeepers is a national responsibility. Describing his country as the twenty-seventh largest personnel contributor, deploying nearly 900 military and police personnel in five operations, he said it ranks high in terms of deployment per capita, and will soon deploy an additional infantry battalion. Noting the increase in the number of women peacekeepers intended to incorporate a gender perspective in United Nations peace and security efforts, he cited the 78 women Mongolian officers and non-commissioned officers in the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), pointing out that Mongolian Blue Helmets are praised for their robust, calm and appropriate approach to peacekeeping. Supporting the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel, he stressed the importance of adequately training, equipping and preparing peacekeepers to fulfil their mandates.

TORE HATTREM (Norway) said his country is prepared to extend the multinational rotation concept for a military transport aircraft in Mali until 2022. Pledging support for reform projects, he said indicators must be developed to identify the political processes to be pursued in support of peacekeeping missions. A political solution requires commitment on the part of all stakeholders, he emphasized, adding that the international community must speak with one voice. Norway is involved in the development of a handbook that will provide practical tools for peacekeepers to use in the prevention of sexual violence, he said. Turning to the safety of peacekeepers, he said the third phase of the Peacekeeping Intelligence Policy must be implemented as soon as possible. Efforts to mitigate the threat of improvised explosive devices must continue and missions should have adequate medical facilities, he added. Concerning the participation of women in peacekeeping operations, he urged the immediate creation of a permanent gender adviser position in all operational headquarters. He went on to note the study conducted by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, saying it identifies challenges and barriers to the recruitment of female peacekeeping troops.

TAREK AHMED MAHFOUZ AHMED MAHFOUZ (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that successful implementation of the Action for Peacekeeping initiative depends on the commitment of all stakeholders. Recalling the history of Egypt's contributions to peacekeeping missions, he said all stages of the peace process must be addressed when planning operations, from prevention and settlement to post-peace-process rebuilding. Emphasizing that politics should be the hallmark of the approach to conflict resolution, he said peacekeeping operations should only accompany the peace process, not act as an alternative to addressing the root causes of conflict, he stressed. Security Council presidential statement S/PRST/2017/27 provides clear guidelines for the review of mandates that will ensure that missions remain relevant and responsive, he said, calling upon the Council to consider ways, with full participation by troop-contributing countries, to improve its mandates. The use of force must be limited to cases of self-defence or defence of the mandate, he said, emphasizing that well-trained troops will be able to posture in such a manner as to deter violence. Operational frameworks for objective assessment of performance must be created, he said, announcing that Cairo will host a regional conference on enhancing peacekeeping performance in November.

Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply in response to Syria, said the Arab refusal to accept the Jewish State is the reason for the existence of peacekeeping forces in the region. The Assad regime is not worthy of the land it claims to govern and lacks the legitimacy to speak on morality, human rights, peace or the rights of others to ancestral lands, he added.

The representative of Syria raised a point of order, saying that Israel's representative spoke beyond the topic at hand, which is peacekeeping.

The representative of Iran, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply in response to Israel, said the statement by that country's delegate represents a distraction from its occupation of the State of Palestine and the atrocities committed there, noting that at least 15 military attacks and aggressions by Israel have been recorded in the region. He went on to point out that Hizbullah is a political party in Lebanon and a recognized movement resisting the Israeli occupation. He also clarified that Iran's military advisers are present in Syria to combat terrorism at that State's invitation, noting that terrorists in the Golan Heights receive support from the Israeli army. The Israeli regime represents the main source of instability in the region, he stressed, calling for accountability in that context.

The representative of Syria said Israel is attempting to cover up its crimes, particularly in the Syrian Golan. Its occupying forces are providing support to armed terrorist groups there, including Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh), he said, adding that they also organized an election on 30 October, in contravention of international instruments. Israel does not have the right to impose its laws on the people living there, who are Arab citizens, he said, describing those activities as null and void. Furthermore, Israel is contravening the disengagement agreement, he said, citing a newspaper report describing that country's support and financing of terrorist groups in the disengagement zone. Israel's media have also mentioned such reports, he recalled. There is no Israel-Syria border in the Golan, he pointed out, emphasizing that it is a disengagement zone.

The representative of Israel said it is ironic for Syria and Iran to preach values to the only democracy in the Middle East. Israel saves lives in the Golan that the Syrian regime slaughters, he added. The definition of terrorism is distorted by the Syrian administration, he said, adding that Syria and Iran mistreat their own people. Israel is not accepted, no matter its borders, he observed.

The representative of Syria described the Golan as Arab and Syrian, emphasizing that it will always be so. The elderly people attacked with tear-gas were protesting illegal Israeli practices, he said, emphasizing that, Israel cannot, therefore, call itself a democracy.

The representative of Iran said there has been consensus that the question of Palestine is the core issue in the Middle East. The continuing occupation of Arab lands and holy sites by the occupying regime lies at the centre of that question, he added, stressing that Israel's atrocities against the civilian population have outraged the world.

Source: United Nations