Question of Palestine home
Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
30 November 1996
DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
September - October 1996
New York, November 1996
Since April 1991, at the request of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat has prepared a compilation of statements, declarations, documents and other material pertaining to the various aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the question of Palestine and the Middle East peace process entitled "Approaches towards the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the question of Palestine".
In January 1994, the bulletin was renamed "Developments related to the Middle East peace process". It includes information material related to the bilateral Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, the multilateral negotiations on Middle East regional issues, and other aspects of the Middle East peace process.
This issue covers the months of September and October 1996.
This bulletin and its back issues can be found in the
United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) at:
on the UN Web site, Question of Palestine pages at:
Printed copies of this publication, and back issues, can be obtained from:
United Nations Secretariat
Division for Palestinian Rights
New York, New York 10017
Remarks by Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and President of the Palestinian Authority
Yasser Arafat at a press conference, Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, 4 September 1996 1
Texts of three-Power letters to Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and President
of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat, London, 25 September 1996 2
Text of Israeli Cabinet communiqué on the situation in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip
and Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 26 September 1996 3
Remarks by President Clinton on the situation in the Middle East,
Washington, D.C., 26 September 1996 4
Statement by President Clinton on announcing the Middle East Summit,
Washington, D.C., 29 September 1996 4
Appeal for peace in the Middle East by Pope John Paul II,
Castelgandolfo, Italy, 30 September 1996 5
Text of statement by the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation on the situation,
in the Palestinian territory, Moscow, 1 October 1996 5
Statement by President Clinton on the outcome of the Middle East Summit,
Washington, D.C., 2 October 1996 6
Remarks by United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher on the Middle East Summit,
Washington, D.C., 2 October 1996 8
Statement by the White House Press Secretary on the free trade area
extension to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,
Washington, D.C., 3 October 1996 9
Address by President Chirac before the Palestinian Council,
Ramallah, West Bank, 23 October 1996 9
Remarks by Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and President of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat at a press conference
Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, 4 September 1996
After their meeting on 4 September 1996, at Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and President of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat made the following remarks:
Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu
After my talks today here I can observe that both parties reiterate their commitment to the interim agreement and their determination to carry out its implementation. However I would like to emphasize that we have to take into account the needs and the requirements of both sides on the basis of reciprocity, and the assurance of the security and well being of both Israelis and Palestinian alike. I have heard in the Palestinian press and Palestinian quarters that my intention is to fragment, to break up the agreement. This is not true, this is not our intention. We want to advance the issues of concern to all of us and we want to do so in ways to facilitate negotiations on a final status. I also want to make clear that our position is to not only move on the peace process but to also improve the prosperity and economic conditions of the Palestinian population. We think that prosperity and peace go hand in hand and I believe that we can advance to achieve both goals for the benefit of both peoples, Mr Chairman please.1
President of the Palestinian Authority Arafat
First of all I would like to thank the Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu, for this positive meeting which enables us to cooperate more and more and implement the agreement. I would like to emphasize here once again our commitment to pursue the cooperation with Israel and our commitment to cooperate with Israel in all aspects in accordance with the agreement. This cooperation in all fields will continue irrespective of our critical differences. Our commitment for both parties is unchangeable. I believe that we and Mr. Netanyahu and his Government will walk together to advance the peace process, the peace of the brave. We shall not forget it was Mr. Shamir and Mr. Netanyahu who started the peace process in Madrid. I have informed Mr. Netanyahu that our first contact to start the peace in the region was with the late Mr. Begin and the channel was through Mr. Sadat. We are determined to work with Mr. Netanyahu and with his Government. I offer him in front of you my heartfelt congratulations on the election choice of the Israelis of making him Prime Minister, and we will work together as we did with his predecessor.1
Texts of three-Power letters to Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu
and President of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat
London, 25 September 1996
The following are the texts of the letters from German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister John Major addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the President of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat (as released in London, on 25 September 1996):
Letter to Benjamin Netanyahu
Dear Prime Minister,
We were pleased to receive you this week and to re-emphasize our friendship towards the State of Israel, as well as to examine with you the prospects for the peace process. You informed us of your concern to respect the undertakings agreed and to pursue talks with the Palestinian authorities. We have since expressed our grave concern at the serious events which have just occurred in the autonomous territories and which risk endangering the Middle East peace process.
Following on from our conversations with you, we wish to make a joint and formal appeal to you to take the necessary steps to restore calm. We welcome the announcement of the decision to close the tunnel under the Holy City and wish other measures to be taken in the same spirit.
We consider that everyone involved should show moderation and carry out their responsibilities. We strongly wish to see an immediate resumption of the negotiations at the highest level between yourself and Mr. Yasser Arafat, on the basis of terms agreed by the two sides. We are making the same appeal to the President of the Palestinian Authority. Such negotiations would provide the opportunity to examine all the outstanding issues. They should enable the signed agreements to be implemented in full, in preparation for an agreement on the final status of the Palestinian territories.
We regard this as the only way of restoring lasting peace in the territories and guaranteeing Israel's security.
We are counting on your authority and your vision as a statesman to ensure that wisdom and peace prevail, for the sake of all the peoples in the region.
Please accept, Prime Minister, the assurance of our highest consideration.
) Jacques Chirac (
) Helmut Kohl (
) John Major.2
Letter to Yasser Arafat
As you know, only this week we received the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, in order to examine with him the prospects for the Middle East peace process. He informed us of his wish to comply with the undertakings signed and to continue the talks with the Palestinian authorities.
We have since expressed our grave concern at the tragic events which have just unfolded in the Palestinian territories and which could jeopardize the Middle East peace process.
We wish, by way of this joint formal appeal, to encourage you to continue to take all measures necessary to restore calm. We are making the same emphatic appeal to the Prime Minister of the State of Israel.
We consider that in the current circumstances both sides must show moderation and assume their responsibilities in full.
We strongly wish to see an immediate resumption of negotiations at the highest level between you and Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, on the basis of terms agreed by the two sides. Such negotiations would provide an opportunity to examine all the outstanding issues, and should enable the agreements signed to be implemented in full with a view to agreement being reached on the final status of the Palestinian territories.
This appears to us to be the only approach capable of bringing lasting calm back to the territories and of ensuring the safety of all the peoples in the region.
We know that your commitment to the continuation of the peace process will lead you to do all that you can to ensure that common sense and reason prevail.
Please accept, Mr. President, the expression of our highest consideration.
) Jacques Chirac (
) Helmut Kohl (
) John Major.2
Text of Israeli Cabinet communiqué on the situation in the
West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem
Jerusalem, 26 September 1996
The following is the text of the Israeli Cabinet communiqué on the situation in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem issued on 26 September 1996, at Jerusalem:
(Communicated by Cabinet Secretariat)
September 26, 1996
The Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs met this evening (Thursday), 26 September 1996, and received briefings and assessments concerning the situation in the areas of Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jerusalem from the Defence Minister, IDF commanders, the Israel Police, and the heads of the GSS.
The Committee held a discussion, and took the following decisions:
1. The Government expresses its deep sorrow for the victims who died today, joins in the painful mourning of the families, and wishes a full recovery to those injured.
2. The shooting on the part of the Palestinian Police, and the incitement to violence, constitutes a severe violation of the Interim Agreement, and their continuation will place the continuation of the peace process at risk.
Article XV of the Interim Agreement, which concerns the "Prevention of Hostile Acts" determines that:
Both sides shall take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime, and hostilities directed against each other, against individuals falling under the other's authority and against their property, and shall take legal measures against offenders.
The Government calls for the renewal of the political peace negotiations, in accordance with the framework agreed upon between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, without any prior conditions.
3. The Government is firm in its determination to defend the citizens of Israel, the residents of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and the soldiers of the IDF, by all means necessary, and it instructed the IDF, the Israel Police, and the other security forces to take every step required to do so.
4. The Government expresses its appreciation to the soldiers of the IDF, the Israel Police, and the other security authorities which stand in the war against violence and terrorism.
5. The Government of Israel demands that the Palestinian Authority restrain, and effect the cessation of, the violent activities and the creation of ferment from within its territory against the citizens of Israel and the soldiers of the IDF.3
Remarks by President Clinton on the situation in the Middle East
Washington, D.C., 26 September 1996
On 26 September 1996, at the White House, President Clinton made the following statement regarding the situation in the Middle East:
I'd like to say a few words about the situation in the Middle East. I deeply regret the injuries and the loss of life we've seen in the West Bank and Gaza in the last few days. It points to the urgency for both sides not only to end the violence, but to take positive steps to resolve the issues that divide them.
Over the past 24 hours we have been in constant touch with the Israelis and the Palestinians. Our message to them is this: It is in everyone's interest to resolve their differences peacefully, to work together on security and to avoid any actions that could make progress on the peace between Israelis and Palestinians more difficult.
The events of the past two days stand out precisely because we have made so much progress towards peace in these past few years. Violence was becoming the exception, not the rule. The overwhelming majority of Israelis and Palestinians want peace, and they have been doing the hard work to build it.
So, again, let me say: I ask both sides to end this violence, to get back to the business of peace, to implement the agreements they've reached, to resolve their differences through negotiations.4
Statement by President Clinton on announcing
the Middle East Summit
Washington, D.C., 29 September 1996
The following announcement on the convening of the Middle East Summit was made by President Bill Clinton on 29 September 1996, at the White House:
The loss of life and the tragedy of the violence in the Middle East this week have been a terrible development for the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples, a blow to all those who worked for a lasting peace, and encouragement to those who oppose a lasting peace.
Earlier this week I called on Israelis and Palestinians to end the cycle of violence, to restore calm, to recommit themselves to the hard work of building peace through negotiations. There has been some progress since then towards ending the confrontation, but not enough. Therefore, after consulting Secretary Christopher, who has literally been working around the clock with the regional leaders to resolve this problem, I have invited Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat to come to Washington as soon as possible. They have accepted my invitation, as has King Hussein of Jordan. I have also invited President Mubarak of Egypt. He is seeing whether it is possible for him to attend. I expect the meetings to take place early this week.
The United States has often played a pivotal role in bringing Arabs and Israelis together to work out their differences in peace. It is our responsibility to do whatever we can to protect the peace process and to help move it forward. This is such a moment.
The events of this week are all the more shocking because the Israelis and the Palestinians have taken so many giant steps towards peace in the last couple of years. They have shown the world that they want peace. They know that they must make hard choices to achieve that goal. I am prepared to do everything in my power to help the Israelis and the Palestinians end the violence and begin the peace process again in earnest.
We have to return to the path of peace along which they have already travelled so far.5
Appeal for peace in the Middle East by Pope John Paul II
Castelgandolfo, Italy, 30 September 1996
On 30 September 1996, at the conclusion of
in Castelgandolfo, Italy, Pope John Paul II made the following appeal for peace in the Middle East:
Unfortunately, once again painful events have occurred which upset the already fragile peace process in the Middle East. Following the bloody episodes of recent days in Jerusalem and other places, all we can do is entrust so much pain to God, beseeching him to transform such sufferings into a loyal commitment in favour of a true, just and lasting peace.
In this difficult hour, I would like, with insistence, to ask the Israeli and Palestinian populations and their leaders for a courageous effort in order not to suffocate the hope of peace and to avoid further provocations, other injustices and consequently new violent reactions.
It is the duty of believers - Jews, Christians and Muslims - to seek every way which favours understanding and reciprocal faith in favour of peace in a land which God willed to be holy.6
Text of statement by the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation
on the situation in the Palestinian territory
Moscow, 1 October 1996
On 1 October 1996, the following statement concerning the situation in the Palestinian territory was made in Moscow by the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation:
The latest developments in the Palestinian territories have been closely followed in Moscow. The situation there, certain lull notwithstanding, remains extremely complicated.
Efforts by the Russian co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process have been focused on an energetic promotion of the cessation of the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation and resumption of serious negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian leadership.
In our view, a certain reduction of tensions has become possible thanks to the multilateral steps undertaken in the last few days. The adoption of the Security Council resolution, a politically ponderous and balanced basis for placating the situation, was a matter of crucial importance.
On 28 September 1996, the United Nations Security Council adopted, by virtual unanimity, a resolution with regard to Palestinian-Israeli clashes. The tragic events in Jerusalem and in the territory of the Palestinian Authority, invaded by Israeli troops, have revealed, with all obviousness, the absolute perniciousness of the stalemate in the negotiating process - a stalemate lasting already for a few months.
This is the aspect that is especially emphasized in the Security Council resolution the Russian side made a significant contribution to. The resolution contains a call for the immediate reversal of all acts which have prompted the outburst of violence. The need is stressed to immediately resume negotiations on the agreed basis, rather than from scratch.
These are the aspects which were accentuated in the statement by Mr. Yevgeni M. Primakov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, at the formal meeting of the Security Council. The meeting itself, unprecedented as for the level and the number of participants (over 30 Foreign Ministers) and held with our active support, has resulted in an earnest political discussion of ways to overcome the crisis and become a reflection of the international community's deep concern over the fates of the peace process in the region.
Russia is satisfied that the Security Council proved capable of an adequate response to the perilous developments in the Palestinian territories. The Russian side expresses the hope that the Security Council's decision, one pursuing specific results and balanced at the same time, will prompt all the parties concerned - including the participants in the Washington, D.C., meeting - to display maximal restraint, goodwill, and political foresight, as well as will give a powerful impetus to the reanimation of the Middle East peace process on all the negotiating tracks.7
Statement by President Clinton on the outcome
of the Middle East Summit
Washington, D.C., 2 October 1996
On 2 October 1996, at the White House, President Clinton made the following statement upon the conclusion of the Middle East Summit:
I'd like to begin by thanking King Hussein, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Chairman Arafat for coming here to Washington at this critical and very difficult moment for the Middle East peace process. Their journey reflects a true commitment to peace, and an understanding that there is no alternative to the path of peace their people have traveled so far along in the last few years.
I invited them here with three urgent goals in mind: First, to seek to curb the terrible violence and death that we saw last week. Second, to get the Israelis and Palestinians talking again at the highest levels. And, third, to help both parties return to the hard work of building peace through negotiations.
Today I can report progress on these goals. First, the Israelis and Palestinians clearly are talking again at the highest levels. I believe the calm, constructive, face-to-face meetings Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat have had here will help to build trust between them and promote progress on the issues that still divide them. The Prime Minister and the Chairman agree that they are partners in peace, understand that it is vital to take into account each other's needs and concerns, and realize the importance of removing the frictions between them.
Second, the Prime Minister and Chairman Arafat have recommitted themselves to a non-violent future, to renouncing violence in the resolution of their disputes.
Third, they are ready to renew and intensify negotiations on implementing the Interim Agreement, with Hebron as the first priority. They are committed to engaging immediately in talks and to achieving tangible progress quickly.
To assist them in this effort I am sending Dennis Ross, our special Middle East coordinator, to the region now. The very first meeting will take place on Sunday morning at Erez. They want to resolve the problem of Israeli redeployment from Hebron, and they want to achieve this as soon as possible.
I might point out that these talks will be occurring continuously, and these will be the first continuous peace talks that have been held since the Prime Minister assumed office with the Palestinians.
Finally, the leaders also understand the need to make arrangements between their security forces so that cooperation is more reliable and the situation on the ground is stabilized. They are prepared to do what is needed to achieve that as well.
All of us should put the meetings we have had over the last two days into the proper perspective. The peace process did not start today and it will not be finished tomorrow. For three years now the Israelis and the Palestinians have been moving forward along the path to a lasting peace. Every step is hard. It requires both sides to make difficult decisions and to keep their eyes fixed on the prize of lasting peace. But the progress they have made has proved to the world that progress is possible and peace is possible. Both sides know there is no turning back. Just as there can be no peace without security, there can be no true security without peace.
I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat understand the choice they face every day. It is the choice between cooperation and conflict, between progress and regression, between hope and fear. The Israeli and Palestinian peoples have chosen to strive for cooperation, progress and hope. Now it falls to their leaders to guide them towards those goals, to help them stay true to their choice and, ultimately, to succeed.
In this effort, we are all profoundly privileged to have a partner in King Hussein. He has shown the world equal parts courage and wisdom; and he has especially shown that here this week. I thank him for being here. I rely on his counsel. The peace process has no better friend.
Most of all, let me again thank Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat, who came here at very difficult times with tensions high. I am convinced they both want a more peaceful, prosperous future for their people. I am convinced they both want a more secure future for their people, and I believe they are both prepared to do the hard work that is necessary to achieve their goals.
For our part, the United States will always be there to help. We remain committed to our common goal - a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We recognize our special responsibility to protect the peace process at moments of extreme difficulty, to help move it forward. We have embraced this responsibility because those who take risks for peace must be able to count on the United States.8
Remarks by United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher
on the Middle East Summit
Washington, D.C., 2 October 1996
On 2 October 1996, at the White House, United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher explained the reasons for convening the Middle East Summit as follows:
Well, you've all just heard the President reporting on the results of the summit. I want to do something a little bit different, try to give you a broader perspective on the reasons why the President called for this summit and the significance of what occurred, as well as where we go from here.
The peace process has made tremendous progress in the last three years, but after last week's confrontation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the peace process was plunged into what I feel was the most serious crisis since it began. The events so eroded the trust and confidence of the parties that the whole structure of the peace process was indeed threatened.
The United States has long been recognized as having a fundamental national interest in seeing this Middle East peace process succeed. We've been indispensable to the achievements of that process up to this point. The President and I felt we simply couldn't sit by and see this process threatened, put to such a test, without doing everything we could to try to salvage it. The extraordinary circumstances required, in our judgment, an extraordinary effort. That's why the President called the summit, and why we've been here for the last about 30 hours.
We began with three objectives. The first was to bring the leaders into direct contact. Last week's confrontation and the very raw feelings that it engendered made the contact between the parties very difficult in itself. Nevertheless, without direct engagement it was clear that the issues could not be addressed, and hence President Clinton succeeded in bringing Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat to Washington, together with King Hussein, in order to meet face to face.
Given the intensity of last week's violence and the estrangement between the parties, getting them together was itself a breakthrough.
Second, we needed to try to restore some measure of mutual trust and confidence between the parties. We all know that this could not and cannot happen overnight. But this week, in the last 30 hours, with tremendous encouragement from King Hussein, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat began the process of rebuilding trust under the leadership of President Clinton.
Third, we needed to find a way to get the parties to intensify their negotiations on a range of issues relating to the Interim Agreement, to make possible the implementation that is so badly needed.
We have done that. The parties have committed to do precisely that, to go back to the negotiations on a continuous and intensive basis for the first time in this new Israeli Government. Dennis Ross and his peace team will join the parties in the region to help achieve that process progress.
It's certainly true that no single summit can entirely change an atmosphere or resolve all the substantive issues that lay on the table. But we did make a significant and important beginning. We'll continue to be involved, as our administration has made the pursuit of peace in the Middle East a top priority. We'll continue to do everything we can to try to make the peace process succeed.9
Statement by the White House Press Secretary on the free trade area
extension to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
Washington, D.C., 3 October 1996
The following announcement was made on 3 October 1996, at the White House, by White House Press Secretary Nicholas Burns concerning the extension of the free trade area to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip:
President Clinton signed legislation last night that will expand duty-free treatment of products imported from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and help to spur economic development throughout the region.
This new trade initiative reflects the continuing commitment of the United States to help open new economic opportunities for the Palestinian people - a vital element of the Declaration of Principles signed at the White House in September 1993. It also provides tangible United States support for the peace process and promotes greater economic cooperation among Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.
The proposal grants products of the West Bank and Gaza Strip special trade status, identical to those accorded products of Israel under the Israel-United States Free Trade Agreement. Such a special trade status will provide new employment opportunities for Palestinians outside Israel proper and lure increased foreign investment to the West Bank and Gaza.
The Palestinians have agreed to grant duty-free access on United States imports to the West Bank and Gaza Strip and national treatment within the territories, to assist the United States in verifying compliance with United States trade laws, and to prevent unlawful transshipment of products not qualifying for duty-free access. In addition, the Palestinians will support all efforts to end the Arab League Boycott of Israel in all its respects.
The President would like to thank Chairman William Roth (R-DE) of the Senate Finance Committee, Ranking Member Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Hank Brown (R-CO), Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee William Archer (R-TX), Ranking Member Sam Gibbons (D-FL), Phillip Crane (R-IL), Chairman of the Trade Subcommittee, Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Trade Subcommittee, and Representative Clay Shaw (R-FL), for their efforts to enact the legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support.9
Address by President Chirac before the Palestinian Council
Ramallah, West Bank, 23 October 1996
On 23 October 1996, the following address was delivered by French President Jacques Chirac before the Palestinian Council in Ramallah, West Bank:
Mr. Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and of the Palestinian Authority, Dear Yasser Arafat,
Mr. Chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ministers, Members of the Legislative Council,
I feel it a great honour to be the first foreign Head of State to be invited to speak before the first Assembly to be freely elected by the people of Palestine, on its own land.
Yesterday in Jerusalem, today in Ramallah, I measured how much every man and even woman of this land of Palestine is happy to welcome, on his, on her own soil, the representative of a country that is a friend. I could see the emotion in the eyes, the gestures. And this morning I share that emotion. The emotion of being with you in the building of long-yearned for national institutions, of which this Legislative Council is one of the pillars. The emotion of accompanying a dignified and brave people along the road to peace. And, last but not least, the emotion of meeting in his own land the man who embodies that choice, Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Franco-Palestinian relations go back a long time. In the darkest hours, France was by your side, supporting your will to achieve self-determination. President Arafat, you reminded me recently that on two occasions France saved your life. Since then, you have been a regular visitor to Paris. And you chose to break your journey in Paris on your return from the Washington Summit. A few weeks earlier, in Paris, it was you, Mr. President of the Legislative Council, who launched the cooperation between our Parliaments.
In speaking before your institution today, my intention is to register with due solemnity the importance France attaches to your Assembly, the expression of Palestinian democracy. You are one of the tangible achievements of the peace process. I wish to pay tribute to the exemplary work you are doing and to your role in building a democratic Palestinian State. And I know how attached you are to the freedom and to the human rights you were denied for so long.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as elected representatives of the people you now hold an indivisible part of the national Palestinian sovereignty. Your responsibility to your people and to history is therefore capital. Like us in earlier times, you are engaged in the apprenticeship of democracy. Your task is all the more important that everything has to be created.
Like all democratic peoples, you are intent on pursuing your debates with dignity. Like them, you strive to draw up the best possible legislation. Like them, you try to define the political options and to express them clearly. Those are the tasks all nations assign to their representatives. May you find the rules that will ensure the balance between the executive and the legislative power. Such are, Mr. Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Chairman of the Legislative Council, your moral obligations towards the Palestinian people. I know that that is the road you are following.
This stands much to your credit. The respect for democratic principles is one of the assets that gives you wide internationa1 support and strengthens the confidence in you on the part of your partners.
Europe, which did a lot to help the holding of the general elections in January 1996, will continue to support you in the establishment of a State governed by the rule of law. There are still many difficulties on the way, but we are conscious of what has already been achieved, and we know how tenacious the Palestinians can be.
Your past has been marked by exile and sorrow. And sadly, the last few weeks have also seen tragedy and grief. Once again women, men and children have died. Palestinians, but also Israelis. For the sake of those who have died, for your own sake, for the sake of all of us who support you, do not give in when things are difficult! Resist the temptation of withdrawal and hatred! Keep your hope alive! Think of all the obstacles that have been overcome since the time - which was only yesterday - when many denied the very existence of the Palestinian people! Like others, your people has a history and a culture with roots in its own land, a profound unity and a natural aspiration to choose freely its destiny, to have its own State.
Victims of a history that was not their own, the Palestinians became a people without a land. You have known trials and exile, and yet you have held fast. Remain firm on the principles! Go on holding the olive branch! As you were already saying fifteen years ago, Dear President Arafat, and I quote you: ‘Victory is not won by arms, but by faith, determination, abnegation and a just cause’. The Palestine Liberation Organization, in the difficult times it went through, gained legitimacy and international recognition. In accepting Israel’s right to exist the Palestinian people agreed to a sharing of the land. And then, from Madrid to Oslo and Taba, Israel accepted the progressive exercise of your sovereignty.
I said it yesterday to your Israeli neighbours and partners, and I say it again today: the peace process is still fragile. It is true that decisive steps have been taken towards the ‘peace of the brave’ that President Arafat called for, referring to General de Gaulle. But we are only at mid-stream. Time is not on the side of peace, therefore not on the side of the two peoples, the Palestinian and the Israeli, who alike both want peace. Each new confrontation shows the mortal danger that lies in not moving forward. I have come here with a feeling of urgency.
I am conscious of the frustrations and the humiliations you may feel. I know the daily suffering you endure. But it is vital to remain cool and calm. Despite disappointments, to keep a level head. Together we must fight the temptation of violence, that can always reappear. We must beat off all extremists, throw back the forces of hatred. In rejecting violence as a way of expressing your claims you will be faithful to the action pursued indefatigably by President Arafat. You will also be faithful to those promoters of peace, President Sadat and, later, Yitzhak Rabin, who died for having shown vision and conviction in wanting reconciliation and peace.
There are those who think that the past weighs too heavily. But it can also be the source of mutual knowledge, that must change into understanding and cooperation. Such cooperation will be made both necessary and difficult by the relative scarcity
of natural resources, particularly land and water. On both sides a lot of political courage will be needed. Peace has a price, but peace is priceless.
Today, in order to move forward, first the agreements that have been signed must be respected, both in letter and in spirit.
The period of autonomy must enable the two parties to measure what has been accomplished by both sides, to learn to live side by side, and to show that peace and neighbourly relations are not utopias.
The status is transitory: it must not be unduly prolonged. As of now, new settlements must stop, because continuing the process would seriously impair the likelihood of harmonious coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. The changes in the status quo in Jerusalem, the pulling down of houses, the expulsions, the construction and use of restricted highways must cease.
The unity of the Palestinian territories must also be preserved. In compliance with what was agreed, there must be freedom of movement within the West Bank and between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. And finally the Palestinians must be able to exercise their right to economic development without which peace would be illusory. This implies that the territories should no longer be closed off, but also that they should be free to
develop external trade
The construction of a port at Gaza, that France has decided to support, with our European partners, is an economic and a political necessity.
You know that Europe is the biggest donor of aid to the Palestinian economy. Such assistance will continue. Our purpose is a political one: Europe wants the Palestinians, through development, to reap the dividends of peace.
This determined action is part of an unwavering perspective: from Venice, in l980, to Florence this year, the European Union has constantly come out firmly in favour of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. We will continue to mobilize the Union to ensure that its political role shall be commensurate with its economic commitment, so that it becomes a co-sponsor of the peace process. Our message will remain based on the principles I set out a few months ago in Cairo: the settlement of the Palestinian question is the key, the heart of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
In order to achieve such a comprehensive peace, Israel's legitimate aspiration for security must be understood and accepted everywhere. Israel, assured of the peaceful intentions of its Arab neighbours, will become convinced that the existence of a Palestinian State, far from being a threat, will on the contrary be an element of its security. And then, as President Arafat put it, may the values of tolerance become the foundation of a new ‘culture of peace’ that will ‘submerge the whole region’!
France is prepared to contribute to the definitive settlement by fostering political dialogue, by encouraging the setting up of institutions and by helping economic development. We do not forget the dispersed fragments of your nation, the majority in fact, who aspire to set eyes once more - for many for the first time - on their homeland. Due regard must be given to the rights of the refugees, which were asserted by the international community nearly fifty years ago, but never exercised. And lastly, there cannot be a peace that would exclude the “City of Peace”, Jerusalem. This was demonstrated by recent tragic events.
The whole world has its eyes on Jerusalem, the thrice Holy City. I can understand the passions it inspires. Its holiness, for the Muslims and the Christians, as for the Jews, cannot be dissociated from its existence as a city. That means that in order to retain its unique identity, its plurality must be preserved. The solution for Jerusalem cannot be solely religious, or solely national. It is necessary that freedom of access for the faithful, all the faithful, be guaranteed
everywhere. And any idea of sovereignty, from whatever quarter, must be fitted into the
framework of the negotiated compromise planned by the Oslo agreements. This compromise solution will have to take into account the aspirations and the rights of all the parties concerned.
Mr. Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and of the Palestinian Authority,
Mr. Chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council,
Members of the Legislative Council,
To consolidate and extend autonomy. To settle the question of refugees. To imagine the status of Jerusalem. To set up your State. These are so many goals to be attained, so many problems to be solved, but their difficulty should not frighten us. Let us rather measure what has been achieved. The fact is that the most difficult part has already been done: mutual recognition and agreement on the stages to be completed in order to reach peace.
You have been able to achieve such results thanks to the support of the international community, the courage and vision of true statesmen, but also thanks to the unity you have managed to demonstrate, despite your dispersal. More than ever, preserve that unity!
In this long quest, France will be by your side so that, in rediscovered harmony, all the peoples on this historic land and shall live in peace.10
1. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, via the Internet at <www.israel-mfa.gov.il/peace/pre4996.html>,
4 September 1996.
2. Deutsche Presse Agentur GmbH, via NewsEDGE, 27 September 1996.
3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, via the Internet <www.israel-mfa.gov.il/news/cab0926.html>,
26 September 1996.
4. The White House Briefing Room, via the Internet at <www.library.whitehouse.gov/Press Releases.cgi>; also United States Information Agency at <
>, 26 September 1996.
5. USIA, via the Internet at <
>; also Agence France-Presse, via NewsEDGE, 29 September 1996.
6. Text received on 1 October 1996 from the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.
7. Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, press release No. 61, 2 October 1996.
8. Federal News Service, via NewsEDGE, 2 October 1996; also the White House, Office of the Press Secretary, via Internet at <www.state.gov/www/current/middle_east/isspeech.html>, 2 October 1996.
9. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 2 October 1996.
10. Text received on 29 October 1996 from the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations.
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