Question of Palestine home
12 March 1986
Item 37 of the preliminary list*
THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Letter dated 12 March 1986 from the Chargé d'affairs a.i. of the
Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations
addressed to the Secretary-General
The Government of Israel has repeatedly pointed out Syria's destructive role in preventing the establishment of peace in the Middle East. Maintenance of a formal state of war with Israel has long been a guiding principle of Syria's foreign policy. In recent weeks this principle has been reinforced by Hafez Assad, the President of Syria, in a series of speeches that indicate growing hostility and belligerency in Damascus.
On 27 February 1986 over Radio Damascus, Assad urged Egypt "to tear the Camp David accords to shreds ..." and added that "time is working in our favour ... we ourselves shall work towards locating the Golan in the heart of Syria, and not on its border". Nine days later, on 8 March 1986 (Radio Damascus), Assad declared that Syria was preparing to act against "Zionist plans". He went on to add that "We [Syrians] have a date, soon, with our brothers in the Golan, on the day of victory".
These statements by themselves are enough to warrant international concern regarding Syria's intentions. However, these threats take on new meaning in light of Syria's steady increase in its military forces. In its pursuit to wage war against Israel, Syria has been expanding its armed services to unprecedented levels in an attempt to reach a so-called "strategic parity" with Israel. Syria's vast arsenal already includes ground-to-ground and surface-to-air missiles which could easily reach Israelis major cities. Syria has moved SAM-5 missiles close to Israel's border as well as across its border with Lebanon. In addition to this, the Syrian arsenal currently includes over 4,000 tanks, 2,500 pieces of artillery and over 600 combat aircraft, while its standing army has increased from five divisions in 1982 to nine divisions in 1986.
Along with these exhortations and its military build-up, Syria continues its active role in supporting and promoting international terrorism. Under Syrian protection, terrorists headquartered in Damascus have recently increased the range of their heinous activity. Syrian-based terrorists are provided with a full range of organizational and logistical support, weapons, ammunition, training facilities and direction. The Syrian Foreign Minister, Farouk Sha'ara, openly admitted that his Government "allowed the Palestinian terrorist, Abu Nina], to maintain an office in Damascus" (5 March 1986,
) . (In statements from Damascus both Abu Nidal and George Habash declared responsibility for the recent murder of Zafer Masri, the Arab Mayor of Shechem. Earlier, Abu Nidal also took responsibility, in a statement from Damascus, for the Rome and Vienna airport massacres.) In addition to Abu Nidal, the so-called "Palestinian Salvation Front" - which includes such terrorists as George Habash, Ahmed Jibril, Abu Musa, Naif Hawatmeh, and Hezbollah fanatics - is also headquartered in Damascus.
Syria openly uses terrorism to further its hostile policies. In his speech on 8 March 1986, President Assad boasted about Syria's ability to train and "inspire suicide car-bombers. He said "... The [Syrian] armed forces is a training school for death in the service of God ... We will teach our children to cherish death. . ." . Assad went on to brag about the "success" of several young people who had been enlisted for suicide missions in Lebanon. Of the 15 suicide attacks against Israel and Lebanese army troops in southern Lebanon from April 1985 through November 1985, responsibility for five was claimed by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and another six were perpetrated by members of the Syrian Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party. Israelis and Lebanese have not been the only targets of these inhuman attacks. In October 1983, two suicide missions originating in Syria killed 240 Americans and 58 French nationals.
In light of these ongoing developments, Syria's aggressive policies and its support of international terrorism necessitate immediate action by the international community. The Government of Israel will continue to adopt measures in order to protect and safeguard its citizens, while at the same time, it will continue to follow its policy aimed at strengthening the peace process in the Middle East.
I have the honour to request that this letter be circulated as an official document of the General Assembly, under item 37 of the preliminary list, and concerning measures to prevent international terrorism, and of the Security Council.
) Johanan BEIN
Chargé d'affairs a.i.