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Statement by the Chairman of the Committee
20. Mrs. Absa Claude Diallo, Chairman of the Committee and of the Seminar, stressed that the choice of the capital of Sweden to host the Seminar was by no means a coincidence. Because of its deep attachment to international peace and security, Sweden had worked unfailingly for peaceful coexistence among all nations. It had always demonstrated its full and complete solidarity with the Palestinian people. Many of its illustrious citizens had made considerable sacrifices for that cause. She drew attention to the historic contributions made by Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, by Count Bernadotte, the United Nations Mediator in Palestine in 1948, by Ambassador Jarring, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General following the 1967 war, and by Olof Rydbeck, former Commissioner of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). She referred in particular to the presence of Mr. Sten Andersson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, who had played a personal role in the initiation, in 1988, of the dialogue between the United States and the PLO.
21. For well over 40 years, the United Nations had continued its efforts to bring about a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, which would take account of the needs and interests of all the parties concerned. As part of those efforts, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People had been established in 1975. Since its establishment, the Committee had consistently stressed that peace could be achieved only through the implementation of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 providing for the existence of two States. It had therefore regularly called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967 in order to enable the Palestinian people to exercise its national rights, in particular the right to self-determination and independence. Because of the stalemate in the peace process resulting from the military occupation and serious violations of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, the Committee had intensified its efforts to inform the world public in order to make it more aware of the need for even stronger support for United Nations recommendations with a view to a peaceful settlement.
22. The Committee was undertaking all those initiatives because it was firmly convinced that, in order to arrive at a peaceful solution to that most complex question, it was essential to inform the public worldwide in order to promote a thorough understanding of the issues at stake and to encourage rational discussion free from the fears and ideologies of the past, thereby creating a climate conducive to bringing the parties together in a negotiating process under the auspices of the United Nations. Of particular importance was the fact that the Committee had continued to press for the early convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East in accordance with the guidelines and principles reaffirmed by the General Assembly in its resolution 44/42 of 6 December 1989. That Conference was the most constructive and widely accepted proposal for breaking the impasse and for advancing towards a just settlement. It was also evident that partial and bilateral approaches would not of themselves lead to the achievement of the desired objective.
23. The hope of the Committee in organizing the Seminar was to contribute to the peace process by providing Palestinians, Israelis and Europeans with an ideal forum for discussion so as to identify the specific and effective steps to be taken to promote a just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine. That approach deserved particular attention since it was now clear that violence, ill-treatment and intimidation could not blunt the will of the Palestinian people to win back its freedom and exercise its inalienable rights to the full. The intifadah had confirmed that determination, since it had already irreversibly laid the foundations for a future independent Palestinian State. It had also strengthened the nationalism of that oppressed nation which resolutely set foot on the road to full independence when the State of Palestine was proclaimed at Algiers in November 1988.
24. The Committee regretted that the Government of Israel had so far not responded positively to the Palestinian peace initiative and that it had not agreed to recognize the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people. On the contrary, Israel continued stubbornly to reinforce its occupation of Palestinian territory by a reign of terror and violence. By its recent decision to settle Jews from the Soviet Union and elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory, the occupying Power had once again defied the international community and had sought to undermine the peace effort.
25. The Committee welcomed the fact that many sectors of Israeli public opinion were opposed to the policy of their Government. In addition, Israeli strategic thinkers had come to the conclusion that the two-State solution was the best option from the perspective of Israel's fundamental security and economic needs. Israeli military officers had expressed the belief that Israel's security was no longer dependent on holding the occupied territories and that a political solution was essential. Some government personalities had begun to understand that their country must withdraw from the occupied territories and engage in dialogue with the true representatives of the Palestinian people namely, the PLO. All those considerations gave the Committee additional reasons for hope since other sectors of Israeli public opinion were also evolving in that direction and engaging in joint activities with the Palestinians, including representatives of the PLO. The intensification of contacts between the two sides on so many different levels showed that a decisive historic turning point had been reached in the Middle East conflict and that a negotiated solution was possible.
26. The Committee's hope was strengthened by the changes which were now taking place throughout the world, which encouraged the settlement of old conflicts by political means and which were paving the way for a new era of peace and co-operation in promoting the common interests of mankind. She expressed the hope that the winds of peace and solidarity which prevailed throughout the world, would also prevail in the Middle East and make 1990 the year of the definitive settlement of the question of Palestine, which was now the oldest regional conflict on the United Nations agenda.
Message from the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization
27. A message from Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO was read by Mr. Eugene Makhlouf, representative of the PLO in Sweden. In the message, high appreciation for the effective role and great and important efforts of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and of the Secretary-General, was expressed. The message said that Sweden's hosting of the Seminar showed its continuing support for the work of the United Nations, accentuated its constant role in the development of the peace process in the Middle East and reaffirmed its support for the rights of the Palestinian people and the role of the PLO.
28. The message referred to the theme of the Seminar, "Peace and justice for the Palestinian people - an imperative for the 1990s", and stressed that that slogan must be turned into reality. But that could not be done amid occupation, the "iron-fist" policy, and organized state terrorism practised by the Israeli occupation authorities. It was therefore essential to give prompt and immediate attention to providing protection for the Palestinian people. Peace and justice could not be achieved as long as Israel refused to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people and sought by every means to strike at the PLO, its sole legitimate representative, and to eliminate its existence as a people.
29. The message said that the tremendous influx of Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union and elsewhere made the situation in the Middle East more dangerous. The way in which the movement of the Soviet immigrants had been effected was an exercise in abduction whereby they had been transported from their place of origin to the occupied Palestinian territory, where the authorities, without giving them an opportunity for free choice, had settled them. That was a flagrant violation of all international pacts and laws, in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention and of the Palestinian people's right to live in the territory of its homeland and its right to freedom of movement and to return to its homeland. It also meant the confiscation of more of the land and property for the purpose of settling these immigrants. That would intensify tension and explosiveness in the region. The confrontations and the clashes with Jewish immigrants that had taken place in Jerusalem were but a proof of the Palestinian people's insistence on defending its right to its land and its homeland and to the protection of its property. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the Government of Israel was exploiting the influx of immigrants to wreck opportunities for peace by using those immigrants for the implementation of its expansionist and aggressive policy for the establishment of Greater Israel. There was no doubt that that immigration was encouraging Israel to reject the peace process by adopting a policy of prevarication with regard to all peace initiatives put forward, with the aim of perpetuating Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land, which constituted a blatant threat to peace and security in the region and in the world.
30. The uprising of the Palestinian people had served to reaffirm the objectives for which it had been struggling since the outbreak of its revolution, which were the termination of the Israeli occupation of the occupied land, the restoration of its people's inalienable national rights and the establishment of its independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital. The intifadah would continue, because its continuation was the guarantee of the achievement of justice for the Palestinian people and for the Israeli people. It was therefore necessary to break the current deadlock in the peace process in the region by directing efforts towards the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, in accordance with United Nations resolutions and under United Nations auspices, with the participation of the five permanent members of the Security Council and all parties concerned with the conflict, including the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, on a footing of equality with the other parties, in order to establish a just and comprehensive peace in the region. That placed on the peoples and the Governments of Europe and on all peace-loving States of the world major responsibilities for exerting the necessary pressures on the party that rejected peace in order to persuade it to adopt the peace option and participate in the International Conference.
31. The message called upon the United States Administration to adopt a position in favour of the convening of the International Conference. It appreciated certain positive statements by President Bush and Secretary of State Baker concerning the situation in the occupied territories and the advancement of the peace process in the region, but the Palestinian people expected the United States Administration - in order that it may have an effective role - to cease its continuous support for Israel, which enabled Israel to perpetuate its occupation of the Palestinian land and to continue its aggression.
Panel I: "The intifadah: its impact on and significance for advancing towards a just solution based on the principle of two peoples, two States":
"The intifadah: its impact on and significance for advancing towards a just solution based on the principle of two peoples, two States"
34. Mrs. Marisa Cinciari Rodano, member of the Italian Peace Association, stressed that the Palestinian uprising had introduced extraordinary developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in the Middle East situation. That massive, non-violent struggle involved the majority of the Palestinians of the occupied territories. As a first very important result, the intifadah had put before world public opinion and the decision-makers of the Western countries the fact that the Palestinian question was a national question, a problem of self-determination, a liberation smuggle against a foreign occupation. She emphasized that the Palestinian people were a nation. The uprising had also shown that the Palestinians in the occupied territories considered the PLO as their only legitimate representative. She expressed the view that the intifadah appeared to be both the result and the condition of the new PLO policy. The 1988 Palestinian National Council had marked a renewed consensus among the main Palestinian political groups and contributed to the creation of the political background of the uprising. At the same time, it had given the PLO the strength to design new scenarios and to abandon military practices in favour of a realistic political approach. The PLO had also succeeded in an intense diplomatic activity. Mrs. Cinciari Rodano pointed out further that the intifadah had created a new awareness of the Palestinian question within Israel. But the problem was still far from solution, taking into consideration the growing polarization within the Israeli society and a drift towards the right. She highlighted the activities of the peace movements in Israel but said that they were only a small minority, while fundamentalist religious groups claiming the absolute rights of Israelis over the entire land and calling for the expulsion of all Palestinians from the Holy Land were very active and aggressive. Referring to the current Israeli Government crisis, she stressed that the developments in the occupied territories and the question of negotiation would be the main political problem for any Israeli Government. She then pointed out that through the uprising, Palestinians were building the basis of a pluralistic democratic society, an absolute novelty in the Middle East. Both local communities and the joint national leadership of the intifadah were composed of representatives of the five major Palestinian groups. Finally, she said that the democratic developments in Eastern Europe had a strong psychological impact on the Palestinians having achieved democracy by means of non-violent struggles. At the same time, Israel's new relations with Eastern European countries as well as the growing number of Soviet Jewish immigrants were creating apprehension. She concluded by saying that the attention of the international community should also be drawn to the issue of nuclear disarmament in the Middle East in the framework of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
35. Mr. Igor M. Khvorostiany, Deputy Director of the Institute of History of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, said that the intifadah, as a non-violent struggle of the Palestinian people against the Israeli occupation, had demonstrated a great power potential. He described the intifadah as a mass civil resistance demanding self-determination and an end to occupation. The main goal of its participants was to build an independent Palestine alongside an independent Israel. He stressed that the intifadah had already had a decisive impact on the occupied Palestinian community, galvanized it to action and unified it as never before. It should not only be considered as an uprising against the Israeli occupation. It was one of the most important parts of the Palestinian State-building process. Step by step, through that process the Palestinian people were persistently withdrawing the generalized obedience exacted through force by the Israeli authorities and were transferring it to their national authorities. Restoration of self-respect among the Palestinians and the achievement of a higher degree of unity had made it possible for their leaders to take bold initiatives in the search for a peaceful settlement. He emphasized that the intifadah was a practical implementation of the Palestine Declaration of Independence, which he considered as a point within a process of Palestinian State-building. By proclaiming the State of Palestine, the Palestinian movement had created a new opportunity to launch a sustained and successful peace initiative. He highlighted the fact that during the uprising, the process of Palestinian economic disengagement from Israel had been strengthened, the boycott of Israeli goods had became more effective and had played a significant role in encouraging the development of local industry. He said that the intifadah had created political turmoil within Israel. He indicated changing attitudes and perceptions to be found in the press, in the Knesset, and in the statements of individual political leaders. There were signs of a re-evaluation within Israel of the PLO reality. The Israelis had realized that the occupied territories were not only a threat to the future security of their State, but they had become a clear and present danger to Israeli political stability. The intifadah had influenced and split Israeli public opinion on the problems of continued occupation and recognition of an independent Palestine alongside an independent Israel. It had also encouraged world public opinion and diplomatic efforts to assist in settling the conflict. He concluded by saying that the intifadah would continue because it had proved to be one of the most effective factors in the State.
36. Mr. Hans Peter Kotthaus, of the Federal Republic of Germany, Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Co-operation, said that since the outbreak of the intifadah, there had been two important stages. The year 1988-1989 had seen many changes. After 40 years of various stages in exile, the Palestinian struggle came back home. That was also a culmination of 40 years of maturation of the Palestinian national movement. The second stage had been the shift of attention to Europe, particularly Eastern Europe. He disagreed with fears that the growing focus on Eastern Europe could have negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East. Self-determination and democracy were the two items on the East-West agenda; they were also the guidelines for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He expressed the view that as a result of recent developments, a number of problems had arisen, among them the emigration of Soviet Jewish citizens, and a new complacency on the part of the United States Administration and Congress. In the latter case, a pro-Israel lobby in the United States managed to influence the activities of members of both Houses. One hopeful aspect of his visit to the United States had been his impression that the Political Action Committees were separated more and more from Jewish American public opinion. Another difficulty was the stalemate within the Israeli Government. All these difficulties posed a challenge, setting the agenda for immediate political actions and initiatives. Eastern Europe should improve relations with Israel, but it should also maintain certain principles such as support for the Palestinians. On the problem of the emigration of Soviet Jews, all agreed on the principle of freedom of movement for every human being. All agreed with emigration so long as those who left their homelands were not settled in the occupied territories. He believed the vast majority of those who wanted to emigrate did not want to go to Israel but to the industrialized countries. However, they were not being given that choice. A question which should be asked was what was the absorption capacity of Israel within its 1967 borders. Europeans, Palestinians and Israelis did not believe there was much time left to solve the Middle East problem. The United States, its Congress and public opinion should be influenced to develop a more urgent attitude towards the peace process. Through political contacts and institutions, Europe should indicate support for the Israeli pragmatists. Towards the Israeli Government, it was necessary to be firm. In certain situations, punctual reactions, including sanctions, had proved effective. Governments must act now. He hoped that meetings such as the present one would lead to recognition of the principle of two peoples, two States, but with a common future.
37. Mr. Nikko Lohikoski of Finland, Chairman of the European Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine (ECCP), said that without doubt, the intifadah was the most significant development in the occupied territories since the Israeli occupation in 1967 began. It was a people's unarmed revolution, a powerful demonstration that the Palestinians would settle for nothing less than an independent State. It had changed the life of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, its values and society forever. Its impact on the solution of the Palestine question was no less crucial. By mobilizing the whole Palestinian society, it had made it possible for the PLO to initiate a bold and realistic peace policy, which found expression in the 1988 Palestine National Council and its decisions. The vision of one State, two peoples had been replaced by the vision of two peoples, two States. The message of the Palestinian people was that the aim of its struggle was Palestinian independence, but independence not at Israel's expense. That policy had removed an important barrier from the development of European and Palestinian relations. Unfortunately, Israeli leaders, while cherishing their own independence, refused to recognize the other half of the United Nations partition resolution and continued to obstruct peace efforts. He stressed that there was wide international consensus about the legal basis for settling the Middle East crisis, manifested in various resolutions. An international conference under United Nations auspices had proved to be the most acceptable and useful framework for dealing with all aspects of the conflict. Participation of all parties concerned, including the PLO, was necessary at all stages of the process to ensure its success. The stagnation in the peace process must be overcome so that the idea of the international peace conference would gain in momentum. That was all the more urgent since the Israeli Government seemed to accept, even encouraged the settlement of immigrants in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem. He pointed out that Europe should insist that Israel stop establishing settlements in the occupied territories and should secure, with the co-operation of the Soviet Union and the United States, that Jewish emigrants leaving the Soviet Union would be able to choose the country where they wanted to go. Anti-semitic and other racist and chauvinist deeds and attitudes should be uprooted, so people did not have to feel threatened and had less reasons to leave their own country. Europe had a special role in the Middle East and should take more initiative in the search for a settlement. A clearer political and economic message could be sent to the parties, through trade with the occupied territory and upgrading the status of the PLO. There should be more political, economic, moral and other support to the people in the occupied territory. His organization had been doing much but needed more support and co-operation from European Governments in helping the Palestinian people.
38. Mrs. Kelly Maes, Member of Parliament of Belgium, said peace prevailed in Europe but not everywhere else, and not for the Palestinian people. Since the onset of the intifadah, nothing had or would be the same again. Europe was going through a period of centrism and tended to forget that the world was very small and that problems elsewhere would affect it. The greatest difficulty in establishing peace was encountered in the Middle East. The efforts of the PLO and other political forces must be recognized in Israel. She had seen first-hand the suffering of the Palestinian people and she marvelled at the way they had held up. But their patience would not last forever. She hoped a solution to the problem could be found soon. In that connection, she said, a resolution had been tabled in the Belgian Parliament which urged the 12 members of the European Community to make a greater effort on the Palestinian question. Europe did not always take a worthy stand with respect to other peoples. Only through negotiations and the convening of an international conference would peace be achieved in the Middle East. The Middle East region was part of the common heritage of mankind and all shared a common responsibility towards it. She hoped, therefore, that it would be possible to seek peace through peaceful means in the region.
39. Mr. Evert Svensson, Member of the Swedish Parliament, stressed that the intifadah entailed the emergence of the Palestinian people before the eyes of the world. It had placed the issue of national rights of the Palestinian people on the world agenda and set in motion diplomatic and political machinery for the purpose of securing them. It had helped awaken public opinion in Israel to the need to respect the national rights of the Palestinians and to dialogue with the Palestinians. Today a significant portion of the Israeli public found it in the best interest of Israel that a settlement be reached along the principle of two peoples, two States. Many Israelis were struggling to convince their fellow countrymen that it was necessary and possible to have trust and confidence in the Palestinians and that respecting the rights of the Palestinians did not imply giving up the rights of Israel. Mr. Svensson pointed out that the intifadah had brought about popular structures which would be of value in building an administration of a Palestinian State. He then turned to the problem of immigrants settling in the occupied areas and said that they were violating international law. The Nordic Ministers for Foreign Affairs had expressed their concern. The recent occupation of the Greek Orthodox St. John's Hospice in Jerusalem was highly troublesome. The Swedish Parliament had stressed the importance of an international peace conference under United Nations auspices with participation of the parties concerned, including the PLO. It had condemned Israeli crimes against international law and human rights during the occupation. He appealed to Israel to enter into dialogue with the Palestinian people before it was too late, and to all true friends of Israel throughout the world to help bring that about.
40. Mr. Dedi Zucker, Member of the Israeli Knesset, said that it should be clear that the discussion about Israelis and Palestinians was about two peoples and there was no solution for one without the other. He highlighted the impact of the intifadah on the Israeli society and stressed that it had shaken tremendously the status quo in the Middle East. It had brought Israelis and Palestinians back to the point where they were fighting each other as in 1948. Many Israelis had held the idea that the occupied territories were easily occupied, an idea that had collapsed. Israelis were now forced to pay the price for the occupation - a political, economic, moral and military price. However, the price was still not unbearable in the view of many Israelis who favoured occupation. He outlined that another impact of the uprising was a growing attitude of pragmatism among Israelis. Many Israelis had became pragmatic despite their ideology, nevertheless, far too many held on to their ideologies and stereotypes. He pointed out that the grassroots, unlike Palestinians, were more dynamic and pragmatic than the leadership, leading to a growing gap between public opinion and the politicians. The deep cleavage in the political system and in the parliament had frozen the peace effort begun two years before. The conclusion to be reached was that there was room for direct efforts by people, bypassing the political institutions because the latter were blocking the grassroots development of accepting reality. He welcomed the Palestinian approach of talking directly to the Israeli public. He expressed the view that the Palestinians had overcame fear and had regained their pride by standing up to the Israeli army for more than two years. The 1988 PLO decision was the end of a very long process, and after a long history of rejecting any compromise, which could not have been reached before the Palestinians had overcame their fears and regained their pride. On interrelations in the occupied territory and in Israel, he said that the intifadah had brought the pragmatic elements among the Palestinians closer to the pragmatic elements among the Israelis. That included many centrists in Israel. Turning to the question of immigration, he spoke against settling the immigrants in the occupied territory, but called on the Palestinians to be very clear about their policy, because the right to immigrate would affect to a great extent the Palestinians as well. Palestinians should respect the right of freedom of movement and only on that basis could they reject settling the immigrants in the West Bank. He warned Israelis and Palestinians against radicals among the right wingers and religious fundamentalists, whom he called common enemies of the pragmatic forces on both sides. The present conflict, which was national and political, should not be allowed to become a religious one. Many of those opposed to the peace process introduced religious elements, which would further jeopardize peace among the two peoples. He concluded by saying that there were two halves among the Israelis, the bigger half was pragmatic, the other rejectionist. But the former half was growing and no one should lose hope for the future.
42. Mr. Moshe Amirav, Secretary-General of the Shinui (Liberal) Party of Israel, said that the conflict was based on the dreams, hopes, fears and sufferings of two peoples - Jews and Palestinians - who were very much alike and who would have to stay in the same land, their homeland. For both peoples, it was necessary to be brave enough to admit past mistakes on both sides and to find a solution based on partnership in the land rather than that of "territorial compromise". He pointed out that the mistakes of Israel were that its people had dreams - of Israel as a solution for the Jewish people, and of the land as a Jewish State. They refused to "see" the Palestinians; they also failed to see the real partner in the negotiations for peace, namely the PLO. On the Palestinian side, their mistakes were in their perceptions of Jews. Until a few years ago, it was their goal to destroy the State of Israel. Historic compromises were rejected by Arabs and Palestinians. He said that being today against immigration to Israel was a fatal mistake. Only a strong Israel would be ready to make peace. The immigrants presented Israel's hope of permanence in the area. Palestinians should support that process. He agreed that the new immigrants should not go to the occupied territories but added that less than 1 per cent of those who had gone to Israel had settled there. He was against a "two peoples, two States" solution. His dream was of one homeland, two States. Jerusalem would have to be one city, an open city, but two capitals. The Palestinian refugee problem would also have to be addressed. They would have to be told that they could no longer return to their homes in Jaffa or Haifa. He presented a confederal solution made out of three States - Israel, Palestine and Jordan, with open borders and one economic market, and probably, one currency. Two elements of citizenship would be desirable, one of the particular State and one of the confederation. He emphasized that that was the only idea acceptable to right wingers in Israel and to extremists among the Palestinians. The creation of a Palestinian State would not happen immediately. It would take time. He said that Europe had a role to play in finding a solution to the Palestinian question, but sanctions were not the answer because they would be seen as a threat to the very existence of Israel. Europe could help bridge the two sides through dialogue, support for joint Israeli-Palestinian efforts and assistance on such problem;; as the refugees. The intifadah should become more constructive and demonstrate the possibility of co-operation between Palestinians and Israelis. He was optimistic about the future because the trend in Israel was becoming less idealistic and more pragmatic.
43. Mrs. Marie-Christine Aulas of France, Member of the European Parliament, said it was important to consider the role which Europe now played in breaking the current impasse on the question of Palestine. Two parallel dynamics witnessed in recent years were the regional dynamic where, after half a century of suffering and ale, successes and failure, the question of Palestine had become the centre of attention as a result of and thanks to the intifadah; and the international dynamic, which had been so mach a part of the region's problems ever since the West had had to deal with the question of the East. Despite the new situation, the functional and sometimes even impassioned relationship between Israel and the United States remained. the same. It was responsible for the refusal of a peace conference, for the ongoing diplomatic impasse and for the continued "drip-feeding of the Israeli economy". While the position of Israel and the United States became ever more deeply bogged down in the determinist approach which characterized their view of the world, the rest of the planet was changing direction. Europe, in particular, was rediscovering the continent after 45 years of division, and at last. recovering from the consequences of its last war. That was important especially as far as a solution to the question of Palestine was concerned. She pointed out that Europe was gradually regaining its freedom of initiative. It was now no longer the countries of Western Europe which maintained diplomatic relations both with Israel and with the PLO; diplomatic relations between the Eastern European countries and Israel had resumed. Awareness was slowly being gained of Europe's historical responsibility vis-à-vis the Palestinians, the indirect victims of a history that was not their own. There were also stronger initiatives by the European Economic Community to alter Israeli behaviour against the Palestinians and to provide assistance to the occupied Palestinian territories. The European Parliament adapted many emergency resolutions nearly every month to denounce and condemn Israeli practices in the occupied territories, and the Commission and Council had been just as vigilant. The EEC had made considerable progress on the question of Palestine. Having long benefited from exclusive sympathy, Israel now understood that times had changed. A new strategy had been implemented with the opening in Brussels of a permanent Israeli Mission to the EEC and the establishment of a lobby along the same lines as Political Action Committees in the United States. Analysing the overall situation, she said that there was. on the one hand, a desire for peace leading to an international conference under United Nations auspices and, on the other, a strategy aimed at pushing back deadlines and gaining time by making use of all the different contradictions. None the less, the goal of a just and lasting peace still had to be achieved, and it had to be determined haw an international peace conference could be convened in the face of a United States veto and Israeli-American opposition. The European Community was currently in the best position both historically and politically to take such an initiative. She belonged to a group which had requested that a preparatory committee be established to work on the agenda, membership and methods of work of the international peace conference. By initiating the creation of the infrastructure for such a conference, the dynamics would be set in motion to keep fatalism and determinism at bay and pave the way for a just and lasting peace for all.
44. Rabbi Balfour Brickner, of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in the United States, said that his presence at the meeting was a compelling responsibility in the quest for peace in the Middle East and a responsibility to his own Jewish identity. He had come as an American Jew with a long Zionist tradition, one committed to the two-State solution and who was concerned about what he saw going on. The world would not go to war over many regional conflicts, he said, but it could go to war over the issue of how Israeli and Palestinian rights were resolved. Moreover, a religious passion existed in that region not found anywhere else in the world. People were always willing to die :tee the sacred. It was that reality which should cause the principals in the conflict to give thought, as their decisions could affect more than themselves. He was not blind to the mistakes on both sides, Israelis and Palestinians. However, the hopeful and longed-for changes that were unfolding had brought the participants to the Seminar. He pointed out that in their e torts to fulfill their rights, Palestinians had resorted to the intifadah. PLO officialdom had had to struggle to catch up. The intifadah had drawn world attention to the Arab cause as no other event could, and so had the Israeli response. It had also widened the gap between Israelis and the Jewish Diaspora, with the Jewish community sometimes offended by the actions of Israel. However, he added, while the American Jew might be critical of certain facets of Israeli behaviour, he did not reject the State of Israel. The intifadah had created Israel's biggest problem and its biggest threat. The threat was not to external security but to Israel's internal unity. That was far more formidable and challenging. As a result, Israel was a nation divided as to what to do with 1.7 million Palestinians. Into the vacuum of internal tension, extremists from both sides would crowd out and pre-empt the moderates. Only a reasonable peace process could contain if not eradicate those forces. Likud was as far from accepting such demands as were Arab extremists. Among the numerous proposals, there had been one subject that needed to be discussed - the question of security. To this day, Israelis feared Palestinians. A sense of security for Israel could lead to acceptance of a Palestinian State on the West Bank. Something was needed to protect against those who would harm both States. Also, all legal restrictions to the dialogue process must be removed. There must also be a distinction between "State" and "homeland". He stressed that there was a role for those who did not live in the Middle East. The United States, for its part, had played a role during the "who is a Jew" debate in Israel. More recently, the American-Israel Political Action Committee had repudiated the settlement of Jews on property owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. The United States and the Soviet Union must be partners in any international conference which might ensue. Israel now recognized the Soviet Union's role in any process leading to peace. Sweden, too, had been very involved in that process. The role of the United Nations to facilitate dialogue must continue to grow. No military solution to the Middle East problem was possible. There must be acceptance of land for peace with security guarantees, and changes in Palestinian thinking, from rejection to acceptance of Israel.
45. Mr. Joseph Cassar, President of the Administrative Council of the Maltese Nationalist Party, stressed at the outset that acknowledgement of the full sovereignty of nations and respect for the democratic will of the people had helped break a decades-long impasse in Eastern Europe. Those same criteria, which ensured regional security and mutual co-operation, formed the basis of United Nations recommendations and declarations calling for an international peace conference for a lasting settlement of the question of Palestine. A solution was urgent. The key words to achieve consensus amongst all concerned were dialogue and regional security. He then elaborated on Europe's role in promoting peace in the Middle East which was motivated by a duty due to its historic affinities and responsibilities in the region, and a right since the regional conflict constituted a security threat to the continent. He emphasized the need for a co-ordinated stance adopted by the European Community and other European States. He said that in 1968, the Maltese Government introduced the concept of "Common Heritage of Mankind" at the United Nations. Awareness of a common heritage helped identify common problems - rather than differences - and hence new patterns of coexistence and co-operation. After half a century of Middle East conflict, suffering and insecurity were the common heritage of the Israeli and Palestinian people. That heritage could either form the basis of greater understanding or else become the source of renewed conflict. He recalled the fact that off Malta, in December 1989, the two super-Power leaders had buried the cold war era when full recognition had been granted to the sovereign and democratic rights of peoples. Those same principles, he concluded, were the parameters for a lasting peace in the Middle East.
46. Ms. Viola Furubjelke, Member of the Swedish Parliament, emphasized that now was the time to gather all good forces, friends of Israel as well as friends of Palestine, in order to bring about direct talks between Israel and the PLO. Sweden's engagement derived from the fact that it considered itself as friend of both Israel and Palestine, which was of special value when trying to assist in the peace process. Characterizing the intifadah, she said that it was the low level of violence that had made it successful in the sense that it had made ordinary people, Governments and NGOs all over the world aware of the unjust situation. Although the Israelis had military advantage in the conflict, it was the Palestinians who were stronger, due to their moral and political conviction of their rights. She expressed the hope that the Palestinian people could keep the intifadah as non-violent as possible. She pointed out that the most obvious hindrance to proceedings in the process was the ongoing governmental crisis in Israel as well as the stand of the United States not to put pressure on the Israeli Government. The United States Administration should use its influence to prevent Israel from an undemocratic development, which seemed to be the result of the oppression in the occupied territories. She said that for the Israelis, it was important to change their attitudes towards the Palestinians to get rid of an irrational fear. In general, the current more talkative political climate had shown great progress in solving different regional conflicts. The United Nations had the obligation and the right to accelerate the movement towards a solution of the prevailing problems in the Middle East.
47. Mr. António Lacerda de Queiroz, Member of the National Assembly of Portugal, said a major victory for the Palestinian cause had been that of winning the sympathy of European public opinion and the recognition of the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The intifadah had drawn world public opinion to the Palestinians' suffering, simultaneously with anger and revolt against the oppressors and occupiers. Any just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question required the participation of Israel - and its American ally - and the PLO. Dialogue was essential. He emphasized that Europe had moral obligations towards its most immediate neighbours, the Mediterranean countries, and must be in the forefront of that region's defence. Self-determination and a homeland for the Palestinians must come at the top of Europe's list of preoccupations. He favoured an international conference, open to all parties, including the PLO, on the Palestinian-Israeli question; accepted the proposal for elections in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem if part of a global negotiation framework; and called for increased economic aid, particularly in health and education, for the population of the occupied territories. Most of Israel's arrogance and stubbornness was due to the blind backing of the United States. America's European allies should pressure it into realizing haw important the Arab world was to Europe and that nothing should jeopardize that relationship. A large share of Israeli exports was absorbed by the EEC. Because the trade agreement had to be ratified every three years by the European Parliament, the latter could block it, which it did in 1988 when Israel placed restrictions on the export of farm products grown by Palestinians in the occupied territories. That veto had obliged Israel to change its practice. He wondered whether the friends of the Arab nations should not lobby the European Parliament in order to get more substantial concessions from the Israelis.
48. Mr. Nabeel Shaath, Chairman of the Political Committee of the Palestine National Council, said that there was much more common ground between Palestinians and Israelis than between Palestinians and Americans. There had so far been one-sided support from the United States. The Administration did not feel strongly about the fate of Palestinians in the Middle East. The current driving force in the Middle East was the Palestinian peace plan fuelled by the intifadah. However, that drive was being blocked by a number of factors. The fact remained that no progress was being made in the Middle East situation. The risks of the impasse were many, and included a radicalization of the two sides; an Israeli nuclear attack, even by mistake; and a wider Arab-Israeli confrontation. He said that the Jew, seeking a solution to his tragedy, had made the Palestinian his victim. The Palestinians were thrown out of their land, literally thrown into the sea. He then elaborated on the decision of the PLO to develop a two-State policy in November 1988. That decision was a major compromise, one that was difficult to accept. The thinking leading up to that decision had been long in coming, dating back to 1974. When the Palestinian peace plan was announced in 1988, the time was ripe for the solution of many difficult issues. All those factors led the PLO to believe it was the proper time for concessions. The decisions announced at Algiers, Geneva and Paris included full recognition of Israel, renunciation of terrorism, a decision on the status of Jerusalem, and for the total end of the "stage" theory. In its deeds, the PLO stopped all actions against individuals; attacks by its military units were suspended; it began to dialogue and negotiate with any Israeli willing to engage in dialogue, including Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, even though he world not openly admit to it; the green line was re-established, concretizing the idea of two States; it began planning and building for the new State of Palestine; it also held meetings with businessmen on buying technology to build a new State; and discussed trade with Europe for the export of fruits and clothing. Those were not the actions of people who set "stages" or who dreamed of continuing warfare. He stressed that the Palestinians had accepted the many peace proposals tabled provided they moved towards a final peaceful settlement. But Palestinians and Israelis were still enemies working towards friendship. That would finally happen when there were negotiations. The Palestinians were unwavering on those points: the right of self-determination in all their territory; Israel must withdraw from all territory occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem; equality and the right to feel as Palestinians; for those in the Diaspora, the right of return; a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace; and an international conference leading to security guarantees for Arabs and Israelis. He said that Palestinians were the ones always asked to be tested; the Israelis were never asked. He called for an end to the dehumanization of Palestinians. Palestinians understood and sympathized with the sufferings of the Jews and the continuing subtle discrimination they faced. But there must be understanding without patronizing. The testing of the Palestinians alone must cease. There was a change throughout Israel; the Government there had fallen on the question of peace. There were those in Israel who wanted to see an independent Palestinian State. Everybody wanted peace yet the Americans passed resolutions in Congress which inflamed the situation. If America would not move, Europe must take the high ground and push for an international peace conference. There must be initiative to break the impasse. The Palestinians would extend their hand to anyone willing to move towards peace.
49. Mr. Wan Jingzhanq, Associate Research Fellow, China Institute for International Studies, said that to break the present impasse and let history turn over a tragic leaf by restoring the long overdue peace to the Middle East, both sides should subject themselves to the simple wisdom of "live and let live". However, it took both sides. The PLO's sincerity for peace had so far not been reciprocated by the Israeli side. Rather, the hard-liners had attempted to create new obstacles to the process. To undo that intertwisted knot, the Israeli authorities must change their position of intransigence. He said that at a time when the world situation was moving towards relaxation and several regional conflicts had achieved or were nearing political solutions, the solution of the question of Palestine, the world's thorniest problem, was all the more pressing. A peace conference was the best way to look for a solution. The United Nations could play an important role, while the participation of the permanent members of the Security Council could lend more authority to relevant United Nations resolutions. To create the necessary conditions, the concerned parties, including the PLO and Israel, should conduct a dialogue in good faith. Israel must recognize the reality of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Only through negotiations with the PLO on an equal footing could a solution be found. Further, Israel should withdraw from the occupied Arab territories and cease its suppression of Palestinian residents there. The State of Israel and Palestine should recognize each other and assure each other's security. To promote the Middle East peace process, the international community could continue to exert political, economic and moral pressure on Israel to force it to change its obdurate position. He said that the past year had seen some encouraging signs of change in the development of the Middle East situation. There had been frequent diplomatic activities around the issue, and Egypt and other countries had put forward proposals. All had supported the appeal for an early convening of the Middle East peace conference and called on Israel to change course. The PLO's adherence to its strategy of peace and the heroic struggle of its people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were winning sympathy and support world-wide. In sharp contrast, the hardliners of Israel were finding themselves more and more isolated.
50. Mr. Martin Weiss, Parliamentary Adviser of the Federal Republic of Germany, said that like many Germans, he was questioned very often in recent of days about which role a unified Germany would play in the European political concert. He expressed the view that the German role in Middle East politics, which had been rather unimportant until now, would not change very much. Also, a new and bigger Germany had to bear the burden of its Nazi history - the burden of the holocaust. Therefore, there would never be a principal change in the relations between Germany and Israel. One subject of German Middle East politics would be constant. That was the duty to guarantee Israel's right of existence within secure borders. In the future, therefore, one of the biggest pressure groups in the German Parliament would be the pro-Israel lobby. It would not be very helpful for the career of German politicians to deal with Arab countries too much or even to criticize the Israeli Government. At the same time, consciousness of the Palestinian question had increased in Germany owing to the positive effect of the intifadah. He hoped that in the future, German politicians would have a bigger influence on Israel towards a peace process. He stressed that there would be no movement towards a peace process in the Middle East, and in particular towards a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem, unless all concerned parties were willing to make compromises. After a long period of stagnation, three of the main parties had already moved: the PLO had recognized Israel's right to exist within secure borders and had renounced the use of force; the United States had given up its reservations against the PLO and had commenced a dialogue with the PLO leadership; and the Soviet Union had emerge from its self-imposed isolation and was willing to become an active member of the peace negotiations. All three initiatives were aimed at an international peace conference. The only missing component was a clear signal from Israel. Israel should give such a signal by accepting the PLO as a negotiating partner. The question was who would give such a signal in the current government crisis in Israel. All efforts by Israel to control the occupied territories and its illegal settlement policy had failed to solve the basic problem, that of the living together of the two peoples in one area. The problem could be solved neither by repressive administrative practices nor by military force. It could be solved only through negotiations and compromises based on the principle of the right of existence of both peoples. The first step had to be freedom and self-determination of the Palestinian people. He emphasized that Europe's role in that process should be more important than ever before. In addition to the problems and challenges it now had to face in the Eastern European countries, Europe should not forget its responsibility to the Palestinian people. It had a duty to convince its Israeli friends that a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian question was in their own interest. If necessary, more political pressure had to be applied. At the same time, Europeans should prove their solidarity with Palestine by giving more help to the oppressed Palestinian population. The danger of radicalism and fundamentalism on both sides was increasing. What was needed for the Middle East region was well-functioning democratic States. Palestine could be one of then. He hoped that self-determination of Palestine would be realized, and that Israelis and Palestinians would have the chance to live side by side as two free and independent peoples in a more peaceful Middle East
51. Mr. Andrei Zakharov, Member of the Presidium of the Soviet Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee, said that amid favourable changes in the world today as a result of the new thinking, the situation in the Middle East was intolerable and disturbing. A radical improvement was necessary there in the interest of the peoples of that region and in the interest of international security. That required, above all, a fair solution of the most crucial aspect of the Arab-Israeli conflict, that of Palestine. A crucial impulse in the search for practical solutions was the now two-and-a-half-year-old uprising of Palestinians against Israeli occupation and to secure their lawful national rights. Of fundamental significance for developments in and around the Middle East were the constructive modifications in the position of the PLO in favour of a fair political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict through the fulfilment of the relevant United Nations resolutions, its readiness for dialogue with Israel and its condemnation of terrorism. He said that the main obstacle to the start of the peace process was that Israel continued to cling to its rigid and uncompromising position. It had not budged an inch in recognizing the Palestinians' right to self-determination, and had no intention of returning the lands seized from the Arabs in 1967 and categorically refused to have any dealings with the PLO. By its policy of suppression, repression and deportation of Palestinians and the establishment of more settlements on Arab land, Israel was deliberately erecting new obstacles to the peace process, using various pretexts to continue the occupation, among them, the recent statements that it was necessary to keep the captured Arab lands in order to settle immigrants coning to Israel, including those from the Soviet Union. He said that the Soviet Union was convinced that the most acceptable and effective instrument for a truly all-effacing settlement in the region would be an appropriate international conference in which all parties involved in the conflict, including the PLO, and the five permanent members of the Security Council would take part. The idea of the conference was gaining greater support and it had no sensible alternative. There was international consensus that the conference was necessary. Collective international efforts were required to secure an effective Middle East settlement, to promote a comprehensive and all-effacing solution of the region's acute problems with consideration for the legitimate interests of all parties to the conflict. He expressed the view that mutual concern could be relieved by a thoroughly considered and internationally backed system of security guarantees for all sides in the framework of a comprehensive mutually acceptable settlement. As for preparations for the international peace conference, the Soviet Union was in favour of a more active use of the possibilities of the United Nations. It would also be useful for the Secretary-General to appoint a special representative to the region. The substance of any settlement boiled down to resolving the central problem of the Middle East conflict, that of enabling the people of Palestine to exercise its right to self-determination, and assuring security with its recognized frontiers to all States. In addition, all Arab territories occupied since 1967 should be returned.
52. Mr. Khalid Al Hassan, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Palestine National Council, said that the Palestinians had lost their citizenship in 1948 when they had become stateless. They had become non-citizens and lost their property, belongings and their past. That created a feeling of non-existence which contradicted the fact that Palestinians existed physically. They had, therefore, to struggle in order to practice their existence. . Struggling to restore citizenship, identity, history and the process of making one's future was important to get self-respect and satisfaction. The more the Palestinians were suppressed, the more militant they became. He pointed out that to the Palestinian people the family represented the core of the society; it had played the role of ministries of education, employment and social welfare. Politically, the Palestinians decided to remain refugees since they wished to return home and not to be settled outside their homeland. He emphasized that United Nations General Assembly resolution 194 (III) was the only practical way of solving the Palestinian refugee problem. The catastrophe and tragedy that happened to the Palestinian people had led to its rebirth. The Palestinians had maintained their education and other structures even though they had lost their citizenship and were unable to demonstrate their political identity. He said that in the fifties, the Fatah was founded by the people. The movement was a public one and various organizations had come together, subsequently to found the PLO. The Palestinians were united despite the differences of the various organizations. The Palestinian leadership had been able to assess the desires of the people, leading to the decision of the Palestine National Council in Algiers in 1988. Through ups and downs, the PLO had managed to lead the people and had set up many social establishments, including free medical care, sewing programmes and, until recently, support, for the families of imprisoned Palestinians. He pointed out that in 1968 the PLO announced the one democratic State on a solution based on the Swiss example, where the entities were independent and different languages were used. But the idea had been rejected. Already in 1974 the Palestine National Council adopted in principle a two-State solution. In 1988 the idea was clarified completely. He emphasized that, in launching the "peace offensive", the PLO was influenced by a general atmosphere of detente which came to dominate the international scene. If conflicts were to be resolved peacefully, that should include the Middle East. He expressed the view that in the future, an independent State of Palestine and Israel would be part of a much larger economic and possibly political grouping, which would include other countries of the region. The leaders of Israel would switch their thinking from seeking victory in the battle field to searching for victory in the social and economic battlefield. The Palestinians would be the only people who would be able to help the Israelis in that process. Palestinians and Israelis together would be a part of the economy of the Middle East. There would be a new generation in Israel ready to face the challenges of a settlement of the conflict.
MOTION OF THANKS
Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations