Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has said that the Arab Spring "will not become a complete reality unless democracy applies to Israel and the Palestinian people get their rights back."
Speaking during his tour of Uruguay, Suleiman asked what democracy the Western world is referring to constantly when 145 countries, including his hosts in Montevideo, support UN recognition for Palestine but it is still blocked.
"There is an entire people in the Middle East," said Suleiman, "the Arab Palestinian people who lost their land and haven't got a state yet." He pointed out that Lebanon's instability arises in part from the fact that Palestinian refugees have not had their right to return to their homeland turned into a reality. "That is the basis of the turmoil in the region," he added.
After a meeting with Uruguay's President, Jose Mujica, his Lebanese counterpart stressed the need to push for a just and comprehensive solution to the Middle East conflict, on the basis of international resolutions, the Madrid Conference and the Arab Peace Initiative adopted in Beirut in 2002. This includes those resolutions relating to the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, away from any form of resettlement in other countries, and to enhance the opportunities for reform and democracy that are emerging in the Arab world.
Suleiman explained that Lebanon looks forward to multilateral cooperation between Uruguay and other South America countries on the one hand, and Lebanon and Arab countries on the other hand, through the work and decisions of Arab and South American summits. He sought to "emphasise the integration between our shared civilizations and cultures in furtherance of a political and economic partnership that we aim to achieve between the two regions."
President Mujica said that Uruguay agrees with Lebanon on the need to support major just and humanitarian issues in the world and to stand by the Palestinians and their legitimate rights. He also highlighted the need for the reform of international institutions.
There are around 50,000 people of Lebanese origin in Uruguay, said Mujica. Hence, he added, the need to develop trade and scientific, artistic and technical cooperation between Lebanon and Uruguay.