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UNITED
NATIONS
A S

        General Assembly
        Security Council
Distr.
GENERAL
A/52/581
S/1997/866

6 November 1997

ORIGINAL: ENGLISH

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Fifty-second session
Agenda items 36 and 37
QUESTION OF PALESTINE
THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
SECURITY COUNCIL
Fifty-second year



Report of the Secretary-General


1. The present report is submitted in accordance with General Assembly resolution 51/26 of 4 December 1996 on the question of Palestine.

2. On 9 September 1997, the Secretary-General, pursuant to the request contained in paragraph 9 of resolution 51/26, addressed the following letter to the President of the Security Council:

3. On 18 September 1997, the following reply was received from the Security Council:

4. In a note verbale dated 9 September 1997 to the parties concerned, the Secretary-General sought the positions of the Governments of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as the Palestine Liberation Organization, regarding any steps taken by them to implement the relevant provisions of the resolution. As at 23 October 1997, the following replies had been received:

Note verbale dated 6 October 1997 from the Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

Note verbale dated 13 October 1997 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

OBSERVATIONS

5. The stagnation of the Middle East peace process during the past year is disappointing. After prolonged and difficult talks, the protocol concerning the redeployment in Hebron, concluded on 17 January 1997, inspired the hope that confidence and mutual trust between Palestinians and Israelis would increase and create a positive environment for subsequent negotiations that could be successful. Regrettably, the start by Israel of construction of a settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim/Har Homa to the south of East Jerusalem thwarted that positive trend and led to a dangerous and lengthy stalemate. Since then, I have submitted two reports (A/ES-10/6-S/1997/494 and Corr.1 and Add.1 and A/ES-10/6-S/1997/798 and Add.1) in this regard at the request of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, which addressed Israeli actions.

6. I have been appalled by the horrifying terrorist bombings in Israel, which took the lives of innocent people. These despicable acts of terror have further shaken the confidence between Israelis and Palestinians and deepened the crisis in the peace talks. Terrorism, whatever its motivation, can never be justified and I condemn it unreservedly. It is the enemy of the Middle East peace negotiations that hold the expectations of millions. Violence of this kind can never advance any cause. I welcome and fully support measures being taken to combat terrorism. Enhancing the role of the United Nations in that regard is a part of my programme for reform.

7. The parties to the peace process bear responsibility for settling the Arab-Israeli conflict in a just and comprehensive manner in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). The people of the Middle East have a right to live in peace, security and mutual respect and dignity. Attempts to avoid implementing in full and on time the agreements signed since 1993 or to undermine them can only postpone the fulfilment of those aspirations and weaken the peace process.

8. It is my earnest belief that both sides - Palestinians and Israelis - should do everything possible so that mutual trust is restored, peace negotiations are revitalized and steady progress is ensured through the transitional period, leading to a permanent settlement as envisaged by the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (A/48/486-S/26560, annex). Courage, determination and commitment should guide the parties along that path. To that end, Israel should refrain from unilateral actions that have the effect of pre-empting the outcome of the talks and the Palestinian Authority should spare no effort in fighting terrorism effectively. I hope that the resumption of high-level meetings this autumn and the committee talks on outstanding issues will create momentum to get the Israeli-Palestinian talks back on track. Progress on the Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon tracks of negotiations is also essential for achieving a comprehensive and durable peace in the region.

9. The United Nations will continue to support the peace process, politically and through the provision of economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people facilitated by the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories. Improving living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza is imperative for creating a favourable atmosphere for the peace process on the ground. In that connection, it is important that UNRWA be put on a sound financial footing so that the downgrading in its services to the Palestinian refugees can be avoided.

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