Question of Palestine home
Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
1 January 1992
OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT
AND THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
Issue 9 - December 1991
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii
Text of a communication released by the Israeli Government Press Office,
Jerusalem, 1 December 1991 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Excerpts from an address by King Hussein before the Jordanian Parliament,
Amman, 1 December 1991 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Excerpts from a message by President Hafez al-Assad
to the Syrian Arab people, Damascus, 4 December 1991 . . . . . . . . . . 3
Remarks by Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir on the
Washington round of negotiations, Tel Aviv, 9 December 1991. . . . . . . 4
Excerpts from an address by Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir at the
Likud Central Committee session, Tel Aviv, 22 December 1991. . . . . . . 4
Remarks by Israeli Ambassador to the United States on the
question of Palestinian statehood, Tel Aviv, 27 December 1991. . . . . . 5
Notes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
New York, January 1992
- ii -
In April 1991, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People requested that the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat prepare urgently and update regularly, for the use of the Committee members and observers, a compilation of relevant recent statements, declarations and proposals regarding the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the question of Palestine and the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East. The first issue of the compilation, prepared in response to the decision of the Committee, appeared the same month.
Note should be made that reproduced herein are only those parts of the statements, declarations, proposals and initiatives, quoted or summarized, which relate to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the question of Palestine.
Text of a communication released by the Israeli Government press office
Jerusalem, 1 December 1991
The following is the text of an Israeli Prime Minister's Office communication entitled "Israel's position on Washington peace talks":
"The invitation was conveyed to Israel without prior consultation, contrary to understandings with the United States that such moves would be coordinated with Israel, and that surprises would be avoided.
"The outcome of these negotiations is critical to Israel's security and future. Israel has never had to deal simultaneously with four Arab partners to peace negotiations. Each of these Arab parties has immense demands on Israel, which may impact on its ability to survive. Israel cannot be rushed and pressured. It took 17 months of arduous and agonizing talks to achieve a peace pact with Egypt.
"Israel has repeatedly asked the United States to help convene the peace talks in the Middle East. The United States responded with some sympathy, but nevertheless decided on Washington as the venue. This, despite the fact that Israel had agreed to begin direct talks in Madrid on the understanding that they would subsequently move to the region itself.
"Israel's insistence that the negotiations must be direct and should be held in the negotiating countries stems from the Arab attitude to the peace process itself. For decades, the Arab States have rejected the idea of dealing with Israel directly, insisting on an international conference that would impose a settlement on Israel. With the termination of the cold war and the removal of Soviet support of their position, the Arab leaders changed tactics. They have agreed to the format of direct talks with Israel, but insisted that they should be sponsored, managed and directed by the United States. In return, they expect the United States to apply its weight behind the scenes to help extract concessions with Israel. Accordingly, they have refused to discuss with Israel the subject of modalities and venue of the talks, and insisted on a location removed from the region. In Arab perception, 'direct talks' is a formality which serves as a cover for dealing indirectly through the United States. The Syrian authorities have even prevented the media from broadcasting to the Syrian public that the two sides met for direct talks in Madrid. Israel has tried hard to hold the talks in the countries that are supposed to be moving to peace. There is nothing more natural than that neighbours at war should meet on each other's territory, or on the borders between them, to put an end to hostility and war and conclude a peace agreement.
"For Israel, holding the talks in Washington creates great technical difficulties. Israel is a democracy, whose decisions are made by the cabinet under the direction of the prime minister, not by a single ruler, as is the case in its neighbouring countries. The Israeli negotiators must maintain personal contact with the decision-making level in Jerusalem, and come for consultations on a step-by-step basis throughout the process.
"Israel proposed the postponement of the talks for a few days to enable the United States to consider its proposals and consult with the parties. Experience has shown that the gathering of all the Arab delegations at one time will give the hard-liners constant, irresistible leverage that will hamper progress. Israel fears that holding simultaneous talks with three Arab delegations would prevent a free exchange between itself and its interlocutors. Although Israel has warned the United States that convening all the Arab delegations with Israel at the same place and at the same time would not be conducive to successful negotiations, the United States went ahead and invited all four groups to come to Washington on December 4th.
"The American decision to intervene in order to break an impasse on the venue question sets a dangerous precedent. The Arab negotiators now realize that by stonewalling and threatening they will persuade the United States to assume the role of arbitrator, and substitute itself for direct talks.
"The United States Government has consistently held the position that the Arabs and Israelis must negotiate directly. President Bush said in Madrid: 'Peace will only come as the result of direct negotiations, compromise, give and take. Peace cannot be imposed from the outside.' Yet, in the United States invitation to the December 4th meeting in Washington, the United States included detailed proposals and suggestions on the talks relating to every one of the three groups. Even before the agenda had begun to be discussed between the sides, the United States bypassed the issue and injected its views on the substance of the negotiations. This will only serve to strengthen the Arab resolve to talk substance only through the United States and meet with the Israelis only for imagery.
"A telling example for Israel's concerns is a statement by the head of the Syrian delegation to the peace talks, in an interview on Damascus television. Referring constantly to Israel as 'the enemy', the Syrian ambassador said that the negotiations with Israel were 'a continuation of the war in a different form'. The only way to test the Arab attitude to the peace talks is to enable Israel to conduct the negotiations directly, face-to-face, without any outside intervention on any aspect. Clearly, this is not the direction the peace process is taking today."
Excerpts from an address by King Hussein before the Jordanian Parliament
Amman, 1 December 1991
On 1 December 1991, at Amman, King Hussein of Jordan delivered a speech inaugurating the third ordinary session of the Jordanian Parliament. In his speech he addressed the issue of the Middle East Peace Conference and the Jordanian position in that regard:
"Honourable Senators, honourable Deputies, being deeply aware of its pan-Arab duty and historical commitment to our nation's destiny and causes, with the Palestine question at the top of the agenda, my Government will endeavour to reinforce this commitment in accordance with the principled rules and fundamentals for dealing with the Palestine question and our Palestinian brethren. This will be done in conformity with the principles of international legitimacy express through UN resolutions to end the Israeli occupation; to enable the Palestinian people to exercise self-determination on their national soil; to implement Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, stipulating the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and the principle of the exchange of land for peace; to stop the building of settlements and terminate settlement activities; to bring about Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories, including holy Jerusalem; and to provide the means for a just and permanent peace in the region.
"Within this framework, my Government will continue to coordinate with out Palestinian brethren in such a manner as would lead to the desired effect, particularly with regard to the formula of the joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation and the deep-rooted principles on which our dealings with the peace conference are based."
Excerpts from a message by President Hafez al-Assad
to the Syrian Arab people
Damascus, 4 December 1991
The following are excerpts from a message to the Syrian Arab people delivered on 4 December 1991 at Damascus by Syrian President Hafez al-Assad:
"Brothers and sons: For a long time, Syria has been calling for peace in accordance with UN resolutions, particularly resolution 338 and including resolution 242, and on the basis of which the fighting during the October 1973 war was stopped after the Arabs and the Israelis accepted this resolution.
"Syria was the last country to accept this resolution on 24 October 1973, while the others accepted it immediately after its adoption on 22 October 1973. Since that time, Israel has always been obstructing peace efforts at a time the Israeli statements were speaking about peace and claiming that the Arabs are the ones who reject peace and only seek war.
"When an international desire for peace emerged late last year, Israel hurried to close the door from the beginning so that the peace efforts would not occupy much space and grow bigger and become difficult to stop, particularly in such international circumstances that are willing for peace. Syria took the initiative by opening the door for this international desire for peace, in harmony with what it has been saying and emphasizing for a long time on its desire for peace on the basis of the international legitimacy and through an international conference. Israel arrogantly rejected and practiced much obstruction in a bid to freeze the peace efforts and prevent the convening of the conference. But it was convened in accordance with the agreement reached with the co-sponsors of the conference: the United States and the Soviet Union.
"Now, the Israeli Government is doing everything to hamper the process in order to block the talks that were scheduled to be held by the committees in Madrid. Lately, it was agreed that the talks would take place in Washington, as suggested by the co-sponsors of the conference. Attempts by Israel's Government to hamper peace endeavours, as well as the statements made by a number of Israeli officials, who stress their desire for expansion and who publicly affirm their insistence on expansion and on retaining the occupied Arab territories, have exposed to world public opinion a fact that was shrouded in obscurity. This fact is that the Israeli Government is seeking expansion rather than peace.
"Syria was not surprised by the Israeli position, and we have always announced that Israel's rulers want to expand, occupy, and establish settlements, rather than peace. This was our belief in the past and it is our belief at present. But the world, which missed the facts and believed that Israel's rulers only want to seek peace, knows that these rulers' only goal is to seek invasion, expansion, and settling in the Arab lands which they occupy.
"O brothers and sons: Although we know Israel's intentions, which I have mentioned, we seriously responded to the peace efforts in line with our call in the past for implementing the UN resolutions. If peace is achieved and UN resolutions are implemented, we can say that is what we wanted. But if peace is not achieved and UN resolutions are not implemented, Israel's intentions will be exposed to the world, and the Israeli rulers will be exposed as expansionist invaders who are hostile to peace. This will be a gain for the just Arab position and for the peace partisans of the world.
"We, however, were not worried in the past when Israel complicated the peace efforts. Nothing will make us worry if Israel foils the current international peace efforts. We believed, and we will continue to believe, that the future is ours, because rights, justice, and the will to safeguard them are with us. The future will not be on the side of invasion, expansion, and settlements. He who believes that we might relinquish an iota of our soil will be deluding himself or pretending to delude himself. Neither will the Syrian people accept this, nor the sons of Syria do this."
Remarks by Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir on the
Washington round of negotiations
Tel Aviv, 9 December 1991
On 9 December 1991, at Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir appeared before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. In response to a question on possible implications for Israel in case the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation splits up, Mr. Shamir said:
"Certainly, this could put the talks at risk. I do not imagine that this will happen. It cannot happen because there is no room for any disagreement here. There is a formal agreement between Israel and the United States, which is detailed, clear, and public. There is also an agreement between the United States and the Arabs, with both the Palestinians and the Jordanians, that Israel will negotiate with a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. This is very clear. Why should it suddenly change? Why should we be confronted with such a situation, which contravenes all reasonable and fair procedures?"
Further, Mr. Shamir commented on the
"From the very first moment we decided to launch the peace process, we said that we would not mix the
with this matter. We want to hold negotiations. We believe that the Arabs should stop the violence, regardless of whether or not negotiations are being held. This does not gain them anything. The
has brought them nothing so far except suffering, casualties, and incalculable damage, and if it goes on for another few years it will accomplish even less, that is, if they think it has accomplished anything so far. I will say something I have already said in the past, and at the time it made some people very angry. So what if the
has gone on for four years? Has Israel not made progress in this time? Has Israel's population not grown? Has there not been an increase in aliyah and economic growth? What did the Arabs gain? If they continue in this vein they will gain nothing. On the contrary, they will merely fail to make any progress. Obviously, violence has an effect on the progress of the negotiations."
Excerpts from an address by Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir at the Likud
Central Committee session, Tel Aviv, 22 December 1991
On 22 December 1991, at Tel Aviv, addressing the session of the Likud Central Committee, Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir stated,
"... Legitimate differences of opinion among us must not play into the hands of those who are ready to give away parts of Eretz Yisrael; those ready to abandon Judea, Samaria, and Gaza; those willing to act in the service of alien, hostile elements.
"Let us remember and remind everybody, time and again, of the great achievements of the Likud Government. The peace process has begun and is now at its height; Eretz Yisrael is gradually being built in the north and the south, in the west and the east; settlement is expanding and taking root; Ethiopia's Jews were rescued in the glorious Operations Moses and Solomon; aliyah continues, even in the face of difficulties. Let us not forget that only two or three years ago, if we had been told that some 10,000 immigrants would be arriving here in one month, nobody would have believed it. They come here and are absorbed, some with ease and some with difficulty, but all of them will sooner or later have houses and jobs!
"Members of the Central Committee, there is a group of people in our midst that, fortunately for us, has been increasing and growing from day to day. That group is exposed to many attacks and threats; to international resolutions as harsh as whistling bullets; to verbal attacks of hate and venom calling for pogroms and murders; and to real attacks with stones, mines, firebombs, and lead bullets aimed at terminating human lives, perpetuating the wasteland, and preventing the people of Israel--the legal owners of Eretz Yisrael--from settling in their land, our land. Those are the people, our people, who live in Judea, Samaria, the Gaza District, and the Golan Heights. You are the emissaries of the people of Israel. Our hearts are with you. God bless you!"
Remarks by Israeli Ambassador to the United States on the question
of Palestinian statehood, Tel Aviv, 27 December 1991
Speaking at the Dayan Centre, Tel Aviv University, on 27 December 1991, Ambassador of Israel to the United States Mr. Zalman Shoval said the following regarding the question of Palestinian statehood:
"I do not know whether you are aware that the leading motif in Palestinian propaganda is that the establishment of a Palestinian State should be the obvious outcome at the end of the process. In other words, they were kind enough to agree to an interim arrangement, whether it is called autonomy or any other name; they actually made a gesture toward the Americans, peace, and Israel, by temporarily foregoing something that should be, as it were, the obvious culmination of the process at the end of five years.
"Israel is faced with an important and at times difficult task on this issue, because we advocate negotiations without preconditions, in which each side raises its own demands, and so on and so forth. Tactically, this is the right approach from the point of view of public relations. We will have to make it absolutely clear, however, that an independent and separate Palestinian State west of the Jordan River cannot, under any circumstances whatsoever, be the outcome of the process; that we will prevent such an outcome, if need be, even by force. When discussing that issue, it is very important to look at what is happening now or at what will be happening in the next few years and months. If all goes well, we will begin discussing the final and permanent status of the territories only three years from now, but, in the meantime, facts are being established in the field, both for better or for worse."
* * *
1. Foreign Broadcast Information Service,
Daily Report: Near East and South Asia
, No. FBIS-NES-91-231, 2 December 1991, p. 34.
., No. FBIS-NES-91-233, 4 December 1991, pp. 33-34.
., No. FBIS-NES-91-234, 5 December 1991, pp. 35-36.
., No. FBIS-NES-91-237, 10 December 1991, p. 44.
., No. FBIS-NES-91-246, 23 December 1991, p. 23-30.
., No. FBIS-NES-91-250, 30 December 1991, p. 23.