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FINAL RECORD OF THE NINE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEENTH
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva
on Thursday, 30 January 2003, at 10.15 a.m.
The PRESIDENT : I declare open the 918th plenary meeting of the Conference on Disarmament.
Mr. LEVY (Israel): Mr. President, since this is my first time to address the plenary, allow me to congratulate you on the assumption of a demanding task: opening the year of work and guiding us through the first session. Bearing in mind the considerable amount of work ahead of us, please rest assured of my delegation’s fullest cooperation.
In addressing the myriad security problems in the Middle East in a balanced manner, it is incumbent upon us to examine the unique regional characteristics that challenge and undermine stability in our area.
Peace and reconciliation could reduce the arms race in our region to the minimal levels required for national self-defence. An effective security regime based on arms control measure can only be achieved and sustained in a region where wars and armed conflicts, terror and political hostility, incitement and non-recognition cease to be features of everyday life.
Arms control is not a goal in itself; it is, rather, a means by which countries and Governments strengthen the security and the well-being of their citizens. A world free of weapons of mass destruction is a noble goal which we believe should be achieved through the building of confidence and trust among all the countries concerned.
In our region, political reality requires a practical step-by-step approach in order to achieve this confidence. This approach should be based on reconciliation and comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbours. The establishment of peace should be accompanied and strengthened by confidence-building measures and arrangements regarding conventional weapons, culminating in the eventual establishment of a mutually verifiable zone free of ballistic missiles and of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. This zone would include all the States of the region, and would result from the establishment of mutual recognition and free and direct negotiations among them. The absence of recognition, the lack of direct contact and the refusal to accept the right of one State to exist undermine the attainment of confidence and trust.
It is therefore our strong belief that the regional context should be the primary and essential framework to advance critical arms control measures, predicated on a comprehensive and durable peace in the area of the Middle East.
In recent years, Israel has sought to lay enduring foundations for peace and stability in its region, based on a historic reconciliation, embodying the notions of compromise, mutual trust, respect, open borders and good neighbourliness. The basis for coexistence between Israel and its neighbours was laid in the bilateral peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. We still hope to widen this process and turn the vision of peace and stability that we have for our region into a reality.
Israel believes that recent global and regional developments pose an acute challenge to the efforts of the international community to arrest the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and to promote arms control. These alarming developments include: the continued export of weapons of mass destruction, delivery vehicles, know-how and technologies, including by members of the suppliers’ regimes; the continued development and production of weapons of mass destruction, as well as their means of delivery, by States parties to conventions that prohibit their development and production; the demonstrated weakness of international verification instruments in detecting prohibited clandestine activities that clearly violate undertakings reached under arms control treaties.
These issues merit consideration and discussion. For its part, Israel stands ready to participate in such discussions. Ideas will be evaluated according to their contribution to the promotion of global and regional non-proliferation and stability, taking into account Israel’s national security requirements and concerns.
Israel is naturally aware of the difficulties and disagreements regarding the programme of work. We are carefully following the different initiatives to resolve this issue. When a proposal is made that is broadly accepted, primarily by the relevant parties to the current disagreement, Israel will determine its position on its merits.
These days our attention is also focused on the threat of terrorism to our societies, institutions, ways of life and peace of mind. No one today can feel immune. Not only does terrorism claim the lives of thousands, but it also places all of us at risk.
Unfortunately, Israel has been at the forefront of those countries and societies victimized by terrorism in recent decades, but especially so most recently, as young people, brainwashed by their peers, have been committing the ultimate insanity of suicide-bombings in crowded places, cafes, restaurants, universities, buses and public squares, murdering hundreds and wounding thousands. Terror has also taken the form of cross-border attacks, hijacking and attacks on civil aviation, such as the recent attack against an Arkia plane at Mobasa airport, and the use of short-range rockets against population centres in Israel. In recent years these terrorist acts in all their manifestations have touched almost every family in Israel and have become part of the daily lives of Israelis.
Terror has become a strategic weapon, not only in the context of the Middle East, but on a global scale as well. The objective of its perpetrators is not only to kill and maim, but also to scare and scar the human fabric of civilian populations. These consequences cannot be justified by citing alleged extenuating circumstances.
Lately much has been said and discussed here about the disturbing possibility of a connection between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
The danger of such a link casts as dark a shadow on the strategic environment as it does on the regional one, particularly in the Middle East. Clearly, it is all the more alarming in a region in which certain countries have nurtured terror as a tool of diplomacy. These same countries have also been seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction in breach of their international commitments and have proved their readiness to supply and arm terrorist groups with conventional weaponry and rockets. There exists a real danger that such countries will provide these same groups with non-conventional weapons.
Israel is, unfortunately, one of the only countries in this body that still faces a variety of threats, ranging from single acts of terrorism to all-out war. Even the threat of an unconventional attack has become a normal aspect of daily life in Israel. As we speak today, Israelis are lining up to equip themselves with gas masks. The reason for their doing so is the fear of a non-conventional attack from a country that has no direct dispute with us.
Unfortunately, their concerns are justified. During the Gulf war, 12 years ago, under the orders of the same leader who is today the cause of regional and worldwide instability, Israel was the target of 39 unprovoked ballistic missile attacks. This is the same leader who has used chemical weapons against his own countrymen and who has threatened, on more than one occasion, to use his arsenal of non-conventional weapons against my country.
Mr. President, as we gather here today, beginning a new year of work on disarmament, we should reflect on the true purpose of our work. Disarmament is a fragile and indispensable tool in our hands and in the hands of our leaders, whose mission is to ensure the security and well-being of their fellow citizens, without relying merely on a build-up of arms. Shaping a new world free of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery is a noble and indispensable goal. Let us all live up to this great responsibility.
Mr. AL-NIMA (Iraq) (translated from Arabic): In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful!
Mr. President, as this is the first time I have taken the floor before this august assembly, allow me to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency of this Conference. I should also like to assure you of my delegation’s willingness to cooperate with you in seeking to achieve the results which this Conference is working towards.
I am making this statement in exercise of the right of reply to the statement made by the Ambassador of Israel.
We Arabs have a well-known saying which goes as follows: “If you are shameless, do whatever you want.” This proverb is used in reference to people who make demands on everybody but themselves; people who expect from others what they themselves are not prepared to give. The statement by the Ambassador of Israel is a case in point. The Ambassador presented a number of untruths, which we have become used to hearing in successive meetings. He spoke of his faith in the goals of the Conference and yet the international community has not seen Israel take any tangible steps to disarm or to subject its nuclear facilities to international monitoring, even though Israel does have nuclear weapons.
Israel has signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, but it has not ratified it. So, no one knows what stocks it has. It also has a stock of biological weapons and their means of delivery. Although it is Israel that is responsible for the arms race in the Middle East, the Ambassador of Israel claims to have faith in the goals of disarmament, and says that he wants to rid the region of weapons of mass destruction and bring a halt to the arms race.
Paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 687 (1991) calls for the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction. We have yet to see Israel take any practical steps towards that end.
The representative of Israel complains that his country has been subjected to acts of terrorism, ignoring the fact that it is occupying territory belonging to others. It has built illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, and is killing civilians and children, dismantling farms, destroying houses, closing roads and imposing collective punishment on defenceless people. Whenever these people resist the occupation, it calls them terrorists and expects us to believe its claims that its intentions are pacific, yet it makes no secret of its expansionist ambitions to annex by force territory owned by others, and this in contravention of United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. As for evidence of Israeli practices against Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory, one need only look at the resolutions adopted by the Commission on Human Rights at its most recent session. Do Israeli practices against Palestinian civilians not violate the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention? Do these people not have a right to defend themselves against the occupation? What should we call Israeli practices? Are they not acts of terrorism?
In his statement, the representative of Israel referred to my country without mentioning its name. We have no wish to get into a slanging match on this subject, but Israel makes no secret of its hostile intentions towards my country and is forever trying to provoke a war against my country. The representative of Israel makes accusations about the leader of my country, but we should remember that the leader of his own country is wanted on charges of war crimes and that a lawsuit has been brought against him in Belgium. There is also evidence to show that he was involved in the massacres at Sabra and Shatila in 1982.
In conclusion, I should like to give a message to the representative of Israel: If your house is made of glass, don’t throw stones.
Mr. DEMBRI (Algeria) (translated from French ): Mr. President, I would like to take the floor to follow on from the statements made by my colleagues from Israel and Iraq. I am doing this not only as the representative of an African country, but also as that of an Arab country represented here in the Conference on Disarmament.
I would like my statement to be understood as free of any polemic elements but, since we are in the Conference on Disarmament, I must admit to a certain measure of sadness. Our distinguished colleague from Israel, who knows my position well, should have come before us today with a very strong statement, announcing, for example, that his country had decided to submit the nuclear installations of Dimona for inspection by IAEA. That would have boosted the prospects of peace in the Middle East. I would also have liked our colleague from Israel to have announced that his country was going to comply strictly with the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. It would appear that this has not been the case; I can only hope that this information will be forthcoming in his next statement and then the chances for peace in the long-suffering Middle East will be more promising.
We all condemn terrorism. It is the scourge of the third millennium and Algeria, which has long suffered from terrorism, long before most other countries, long before 11 September and often in the face of universal indifference, has a well-earned entitlement to declare its condemnation. I believe that, whenever there is a civilian victim in the Middle East, whether Palestinian or Israeli, we are all affected. We should espouse this as a universal truth and I would also like to point out that these are not simply positions taken by States, but the positions of entire communities of States. The Arab League has condemned terrorism; the Organization of the Islamic Conference has likewise condemned terrorism. And if it is a question of assigning responsibilities, as has been said, in the statement by Mr. Yaakov Levy, I recommend that he read the memoirs of a former minister of foreign affairs of Israel, Mr. Moshe Sharett, who says quite simply that the Israelis were heavily involved in the financing and training of Hamas. This is historical reality and cannot simply be erased. When we talk about responsibility we should be very clear.
I would like to offer a few other examples which show that we are not simply here to reproach one another for facts that have now gone down in history but rather to work on the basis of peaceful dialogue in endeavouring to build international peace and security together.
I would like to recall, since I am also the representative of an African country, that the infamous Dr. Wouter Basson of South Africa, who came up with an unprecedented plan to get rid of the black race in Africa, then found refuge in Israel. This took place in the 1980s and it should not be forgotten. I believe that this remains unrefuted but let us now try and look beyond these facts.
While on the subject of the chances for peace, let us consider what prospects there are today. There are such prospects. Thus, the Arab summit in Beirut came up with a peace offer and presented an unparalleled opportunity for peace. When will we hear any response to this programme, which, I should point out, has been welcomed by virtually the entire international community and, notably, the European Union, which reacted very favourably to the Beirut summit proposals?
I can also point out agreements that have been reached to establish peace on a sustainable basis, such as the Camp David accords of 1979 with Egypt and the 1994 agreement with Jordan. These are all very well and good, but there is still something that bothers me. It seems to me that this memory exercise is somewhat selective. Why was Oslo not included? Oslo marked an important stage in the peace process. Why did the Ambassador of Israel simply skim over Oslo?
Does this mean that no one in his country is complying any longer with the Oslo accords? If we look at things from this perspective, if we want to be borne along on this current of consolidating peace and creating nuclear-free zones in the Middle East, as have been achieved in Africa and Latin America, then I believe that we should also take on board the proposals of people who, in my view, have acted as a moral conscience. Among them I would mention the senior official, Robert Mallett, in the United States, who, in his public statements and writings, has always spelled out the real issues underlying the negotiations between Palestine and Israel. I would equally place my trust in those advocates of dialogue such as the Israeli writer David Grossman, who has also mapped out the contours of a future fraternal relationship between Palestinians and Israelis. This is because, when all is said and done, it is not Israel that is threatened today - at least, not in our eyes: it is Palestine.
We would like to know when Israel will finally bring its borders into line with international agreements? When will it stop its daily violations of the security of the Palestinian people and their property? Our conscience - and not just the Arab conscience or the Muslim conscience, but the conscience of many of us throughout the international community - is deeply troubled, Mr. Ambassador of Israel, by these very strong images, not only of people dying in your country, but also of little Mohammed Al-Dura, who was killed with his father and pictures of whom appeared in the mass media all over the world. In addition, there are images of people buried under the debris while tanks leave destruction in their wake. I think we will all retain the images of the Israeli soldiers crushing the limbs of Palestinians with rocks. These are the sort of images we do not want to see any more, the repetitions of Kristallnacht that we hope never again to encounter. If we want to build peace then we must listen to the message of peace.
We would like to recall again that the proposal of the Beirut Arab summit is still awaiting a response so that we can move forward and, of course, we are also waiting for your country to submit itself to the IAEA inspections, as required of all other countries in the world, including those which have already renounced nuclear weapons, and for it to give its undertaking to comply strictly with the Security Council resolutions. When that day comes, we will have made a great step forward, and I hope that that will be the tenor of your next statement.
Once again, Mr. President, I would like to insist that there is nothing political about all this. I am not exercising any right of reply, I am simply trying to shed light on a situation which is of concern to all of us and today the Ambassador of Israel has given us an opportunity to break the vow of silence that so often seems to be imposed on the issue of Israel’s nuclear potential. I think that we should bring all these problems out into the open and I would like to thank him at least for having done that today, because otherwise we might have read quite the opposite meaning in his statement.
Mr. LEVY (Israel): Mr. President, just a very brief reaction. The statement which I made, I think, speaks for itself in outlining Israel’s views and policies in relation to the work of the Conference. There are sufficient political forums in the United Nations to debate either the wild accusations which the Iraqi Ambassador launched or the measured considerations which my colleague, the distinguished Ambassador Dembri of Algeria, presented to us.
I do not think that these polemics should be introduced into this forum. I think it would be inappropriate, even though I, like Ambassador Dembri, could draw on many images of victims of terrorism and belabour the point to a great degree and, I believe, with similar emotion and emphasis. I would just like to say to Ambassador Dembri that I am party to what I discern as the genuine motives behind your statement - to peace in the Middle East - and, when illustrating in my speech the peace accords signed so far between Egypt and Israel and between Jordan and Israel, I expressed my hope that beyond a general declaration of principle, which was the Oslo accords, which as you indeed pointed out has been abrogated by one party, the Palestinian Authority, that we would like indeed to reach those agreements with the other neighbouring countries, including, as you stated, recognition of borders. We would very much like our borders to be recognized through negotiations by our neighbours, and to see an end to the mutual threats and terrorism.
But again, these issues are more for the political forums of the United Nations, and I recommend that - as I at least shall do in my statements and I hope that others from the region will do likewise - we stick to the issues at hand and again, my statement here speaks for itself.
Mr. SALLOUM (Syrian Arab Republic) (translated from Arabic ): Mr. President, I should like to reaffirm our willingness to cooperate with you in order to achieve the desired outcome of this Conference and break the deadlock in its work. As if the problem of the deadlock were not enough, the Ambassador of Israel is only making things worse by talking about matters that have no place in this forum. We do not wish to exercise our right of reply, because we have no desire to get into an argument here, but we do need to clarify some points.
We Syrians, like all Arabs, condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We particularly condemn State terrorism; a form of terror in which Israel has distinguished itself. Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons poses a major threat both to its neighbours and to the region as a whole. Not only has it been shown to possess nuclear weapons, it also has the means to deliver them to countries in the Middle East. Moreover, it persists in refusing to open up its facilities for inspection.
The representative of Israel talks about the fact that his country has been subjected to terrorism. When I look at the text of his statement, it seems that he could be talking about what Israel itself is doing. Cross-border attacks, terrorist acts, hijacking: who does all these things? Let us begin from the beginning. Who killed Count Bernadotte? He was killed by the people currently governing Israel. Who attacked its neighbours? Let us start with a list. Israel attacked Egypt in 1956 and also occupied its territory. It attacked its Arab neighbours in 1967 and occupied territory belonging to virtually every one of the neighbouring States. It attacked Lebanon twice and occupied its territory. The Ambassador said that there have been attacks on civil aviation. Who attacked and brought down an Egyptian aircraft? Who attacked and downed an unarmed Libyan civil aircraft, killing all the passengers on board? As for cross-border kidnapping, Israeli mercenaries working for the Israeli authorities kidnapped Lebanese citizens, who are still being held hostage.
He says, and I quote: “young people … have been committing the ultimate insanity of suicide bombings”. Who is responsible for causing this insanity? How could a young person in the prime of youth fail to go mad when he sees Israeli soldiers coming into his home, beating up his family, forcing them out and then demolishing the house? How could a person avoid going mad when he sees Israeli soldiers seizing his brother’s hand and pounding it with stones until it breaks? How could a person not go insane seeing Israel launch weapons of mass destruction and missiles from aircraft to bombard people’s homes using Apache aircraft normally deployed in war to bomb civilian homes. Israel sent commandos to Beirut airport to blow up 10 civilian aircraft. It dispatched killers to Tunis to kill Palestinian leaders. It financed, equipped and managed the terrorist groups that carried out bombings in Egypt.
I am talking about history. All of this has been documented for everyone to see. The current Prime Minister of Israel was condemned by an Israeli Commission for his part in the massacre of civilians. Government officials and parliamentary representatives are talking about a transfer policy. They forged close ties with the apartheid regime in South Africa. And yet, in spite of all of this, the Ambassador of Israel says that the reason for what is happening in the Middle East is that there is no peace. This is the only thing in his entire statement that is true.
Yes, our problem in the Middle East is that there is no peace. Why is there no peace in the Middle East? Because Israel rejected and continues to reject the joint peace initiative presented at the Arab summit in Beirut. If I wanted to say everything about the conventional, biological and chemical weapons being stockpiled by Israel, these meetings would not give me enough time. I should like to add my voice to that of the Ambassador of Algeria and say that this forum is devoted to discussing disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament. How happy I would be, if the Ambassador of Israel were to say that Israel had decided to open up its nuclear facilities for inspection. How pleased I would be, if the Ambassador of Israel were to confine his remarks to the substantive matters under consideration, so that we were not obliged to set the record straight. We hope that this forum will not be diverted from its path once more by allegations made by the representative of a State that continues to occupy land belonging to three countries in the region and that persists in refusing the hand of peace that is held out to it by its neighbours.
Mr. President, I shall not impose any further on this assembly’s time. I hope that this discussion will end here.
Mr. LEVY (Israel): Mr. President, it is really not my wish for us to go yet again into polemics on the issue of the Middle East; there are substantial forums for the discussion of this issue. I will therefore refrain from recounting at length the historical books and other sources setting out the record of Syrian aggression. I believe that would be unproductive.
I admit I am also at a disadvantage here because I am unable to quote from the record of public commissions of inquiry conducted in Damascus against atrocities committed by the regime and its leaders, against its own citizens, citizens of Lebanon and other neighbouring countries, for reasons which you will clearly appreciate.
I would like, however, briefly to read you 10 names and to ask a question at the end. The names are those of the 10 major terrorist organizations currently stationed with their headquarters in Damascus with their leaders: The first is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by Ahmed Sadat; the second organization is the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by Naif Hawatmeh; the third is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, headed by Ahmad Jibril; the fourth is the Palestine Liberation Front, headed by Muhammad Abbas, known as Abu al-Abbas ; the fifth is the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, headed by Samir Gosheh, and the Damascus branch is headed by Khalad ’Avar El-Majid; the sixth is the Vanguards of the Popular War of Liberation, headed by ’Isam al-Qadi, also in Damascus; the seventh is the Fatah Intifada, headed by Sa’id Musa Marais, known as Abu Musa; the eighth is the Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, headed by Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, who is stationed in Gaza but with headquarters in Damascus; the ninth is the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, headed by Ramadan Shallah; and the tenth is the Communist Revolutionary Party, headed by Arabi Uwad.
I would suggest that it would be a pleasure for us in this Conference on Disarmament, rather than listen to speeches, as eloquent as they might be, by the distinguished Syrian Ambassador, to hear that his Government was taking action, first, to close these offices which conduct and perpetrate terrorism and, second, to arrest the heads of these organizations whom I have named here. Everyone in authority in Damascus knows exactly their location, their phone numbers and their addresses. I submit that this would be much more productive than any speech, however eloquent.
The PRESIDENT : I thank the distinguished Ambassador of Israel for his statement and I now recognize the distinguished Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Mr. SALLOUM (Syrian Arab Republic) (translated from Arabic ): Mr. President, we had hoped to avoid this dangerous detour along which we are being dragged by the representative of Israel. We wanted this forum to discuss disarmament, and particularly nuclear disarmament. Perhaps the Ambassador of Israel wants to avoid mentioning Israel’s nuclear arsenal, so that he does not have to say whether his Government is willing to open its nuclear facilities for inspection or not. This is the subject that we would like to discuss; not these other matters.
As usual, however, he has completely distorted the facts. I would like to correct what he said. The Palestinians whom he mentioned are in Damascus, because Israel is occupying Palestine. If a Palestinian State existed, they would not be obliged to live in Damascus. These people represent Palestinian information offices that provide information about the justice of the Palestinian question and the right of Palestinians to an independent State and to self-determination, as guaranteed under international law and United Nations resolutions. I do want to say, however, that all they are doing in Damascus is disseminating information on the Palestinian question and this is a legitimate right. Second, who says that these people represent, are members of, or that these are terrorist organizations. I can give dozens of examples of people who were called terrorists and were later recognized as freedom fighters, who became leaders of their own country. Nelson Mandela is one example. Israel supported the regime which put him in prison for being a terrorist.
I would like to concentrate on the reasons for the establishment of this Conference, particularly the goal of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and the fact that the presence of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery in Israel prevents us from realizing that goal. The main danger facing Israel is the policy pursued by its leaders. The Palestinians whose bones Israel is breaking every day, whose homes it demolishes and whose lives it takes, greeted Israeli soldiers with roses when they thought there was a chance for peace. I would like to remind people that the reason why the peace agreement was signed between the Palestinians and the Israelis was to establish an independent State within five years. It is Israel that has stopped this from happening. The current Prime Minister of Israel sparked off the recent violence by making a provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, knowing full well what would happen afterwards. He used the visit for electoral purposes, hoping to embarrass the then labour Prime Minister. He knew perfectly well what the consequences of his visit would be. He did what he did to sabotage the peace process, which he had publicly rejected. He undertook that visit because he wanted to provoke everybody and to enrage the Palestinians.
I will not dwell on Israeli internal politics, but there are many people who accuse the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of having inspired the killer of Yitzhak Rabin. They inspired Rabin’s killer, who was an Israeli, not an Arab. The people who killed Rabin at that time, are killing the peace process, and they are killing Palestinians on the streets today. I do not want to dwell on this subject, here, however - this is not the right forum.
Let us go back to Israel’s nuclear weapons. Does the Israeli Government have any intention of opening up its facilities for inspection? Does Israel intend to ensure that the region becomes a nuclear-weapon-free zone? I do not want to hear talk about conventional weapons. We will think about that, if there is peace, because peace is a possibility. We have an Arab initiative. The Ambassador of Israel need only declare, on behalf of his Government, that they are willing to accept this initiative, and I guarantee that there will be peace before the end of the current year. I asked the same question during the most recent session of the Commission on Human Rights, but I have yet to receive a response. His Government did not give a direct answer, but it did respond indirectly by preventing the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her delegation from visiting the territories to investigate the flagrant violations of human rights perpetrated by Israel. At the time, the representative of Israel was acting as Israel’s ambassador to the Commission on Human Rights. He himself told the High Commissioner for Human Rights that he could not allow her to go into the occupied territories. So, let us return to the subject of this Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, and particularly to the subject of Israeli nuclear weapons.
Mr. LEVY (Israel): Mr. President, as I stated earlier, I have no wish to belabour the points and answer at great length. I would just like to remind the distinguished Syrian Ambassador this is not the Commission on Human Rights, which he cited. There is ample space during six weeks of the Commission on Human Rights to exchange barbs and accusations, mostly falsely where he is concerned. I repeat that my statement regarding the issues on the table here speaks for itself. I would offer, however, one observation. The distinguished Ambassador of Syria referred to the Israeli political and electoral system and alluded to what, in his view, motivates leaders and candidates and office-holders in Israel, mostly in an erroneous manner. I would like to state, however, that the electoral and political process in Israel is free and democratic. I would recommend its introduction in the country which the distinguished Ambassador represents. It might prove a rather innovative and rewarding process.
Mr. SALLOUM (Syrian Arab Republic) (translated from Arabic ): Mr. President, I would just like to clarify something. I was not talking about the political regime in Israel nor about Israeli elections. I was talking about the Israeli Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, not the electoral system. These two persons are believed to have inspired Mr. Rabin’s killer with their ideas. I am not making this up. This is what we hear from Israeli circles. I should also like to remind people that Mr. Rabin’s widow herself alluded to this matter. As for their elections and the way they choose to manage their own affairs, this is a matter for them to decide and has nothing to do with us.
Mr. LEVY (Israel): Mr. President, I would just like to state for the record that the current accusation made by the distinguished Ambassador of Syria and the others made earlier are false.