Question of Palestine home
7 November 1997
Friday, 7 November 1997, 3 p.m.
Mr. Nkgowe .........................(Botswana)
The meeting was called to order at 3.25 p.m.
Agenda items 62 to 83
Introduction and consideration of all draft resolutions submitted under all items
(Israel): I shall be speaking first on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.5. That draft resolution, entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”, which is before the Committee, is nothing but a transparent political move to single out and to condemn Israel.
The draft resolution does not have the cause of non-proliferation at heart, as its sponsors falsely claim. As a matter of fact, it renders a great disservice to the cause of non-proliferation in the Middle East by diverting attention from true risks to non-proliferation in the region.
The adoption each year by this Committee of such a draft resolution, together with other condemnatory draft resolutions that intend to put pressure on my country, does not create of itself, as its sponsors tend to believe, political realities in the Middle East. Political realities are taking shape outside this conference room, elsewhere in the region.
The sponsors of the draft resolution, who represent themselves, in the language of the draft resolution, as proponents of “universal adherence to the Treaty”, make cynical use of this principle as they single out not only one region but one State. If this draft resolution addresses itself to the principle of universality, it should be broadly applied.
If, on the other hand, the sponsors wish to highlight the current regional situation in the Middle East, they should take a comprehensive approach, encompassing all security problems in the region.
The real proliferators in the Middle East are well known to the Security Council, to this Committee and to the international community as a whole. They should be called upon to fulfil their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other legally binding international instruments to which they have freely become parties. Unfortunately, their mere signature on these instruments does not provide assurances of compliance.
It is a sad irony that this draft resolution has become a topic of our discussion here at a time when United Nations inspectors face insurmountable difficulties in trying to move an entrenched and defiant regime to reveal the nuclear capabilities it has developed and acquired in violation of its obligations under the NPT.
As long as this Committee does not address itself to the real risks of proliferation in the Middle East, it will remain irrelevant to the evolving situation in the region.
As much as Israel welcomes the indefinite extension of the NPT, Israel does not find in the Treaty an adequate response to its security problems and regional concerns in the Middle East.
Israel's attitude towards the NPT has become, unjustifiably, a major subject of criticism in annual resolutions. No other United Nations Member State, including those that for national security reasons found it impossible to become parties to the NPT, has ever been subject to repeated condemnatory resolutions regarding the question of its treaty membership.
There is no place for criticism of Israel based on external perceptions of Israel's political and security situation or on subjective national experiences and lessons learned in other regions.
Another draft resolution before this Committee, draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”, already covers all relevant topics of principle pertaining to the nuclear issue. This, in itself, renders draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.5 superfluous and redundant. There is, therefore, no need for this draft resolution. Obviously, its only remaining objective is to single out and condemn Israel, with complete disregard for events in the region.
It is widely accepted that resolutions dealing with international or regional security adopted by international forums are of value only when adopted by consensus — the more so when dealing with nuclear issues. Their adoption by a majority vote renders them unrealistic and ineffective. Another negative consequence of such a majority vote is the creation of an illusion that resolutions are a proper replacement for direct and free negotiations among the concerned parties.
I once again call upon all delegations to resist this annual temptation to engage in ritual demonstration of their support of the NPT by joining in condemnation of Israel in this Committee.
May I take this opportunity to draw attention to document A/C.1/52/L.46, which contains an amendment presented by my delegation to draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4. This amendment is introduced with a view to enabling us to maintain consensus on an important resolution and topic which has already been with us for many years.
(Egypt): I have great pleasure in introducing the draft resolution entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East”, contained in document A/C.1/52/L.4.
As is well known, this resolution has been annually adopted by the General Assembly since its inception and introduction in 1974 and by consensus since 1980. The consensus that has emerged in the General Assembly over this long period of time with respect to this proposal and the steadfast support it received in bilateral declarations and in various multilateral forums are no doubt clear testimony to the viability and relevance of this concept in the Middle East.
The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would greatly contribute to arresting the proliferation of nuclear weapons and strengthening the security of all States of the region. Consequently, it would be deemed an important confidence-building measure towards the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.
During the forty-fifth session of the General Assembly, the study on effective and verifiable measures to facilitate the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was presented for the consideration of this Committee. The study was generally well received as a useful and balanced approach to attaining an extremely important objective. In quoting this study, I would refer to its conclusions, where it is stated that
“There ... is no doubt that the goal can be reached; it is not an idle dream”. [A/45/435, para. 175]
It goes on to state that
“The effort required will be great, but so will the benefits of success”. [ibid., para. 176]
Though we fully realize that peace and security, as well as stability, in the region of the Middle East will be achieved only when a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict in all its dimensions is attained, it is essential to create the necessary climate and security conditions based on equal security for all, security at the lowest level of armament, and security that would not allow for the military superiority of any individual party. All this might facilitate the achievement of this objective. In our view, the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would greatly contribute in this regard.
In introducing the draft resolution, I find it of significance to state that my delegation, while fully aware of the common desire of all concerned to preserve the consensual dimension of this draft resolution, found it essential to reflect the relevant and non-controversial regional realities of which all parties directly concerned are fully conscious and aware. In this vein, and in order to be consistent with ourselves, operative paragraph 4 refers to the importance of the multilateral Working Group on Arms Control and Regional Security in promoting mutual confidence and security in the Middle East. The only change which has been introduced here relates to the deletion of the words “activities of”, which appeared in previous resolutions just before the reference to the Working Group. This is only a reflection of realities. The activities of the Working Group have been halted for over three years now. And, as many have noted, including the representative of Israel, who said in a statement in the general debate of this Committee:
“We regret that the promising discussions and activities of this Working Group have been brought to a halt”. [see A/C.1/52/PV.10]
It is our considered opinion that the time is now ripe to proceed towards the implementation of the provisions and the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. For this reason, operative paragraph 10 of the draft resolution endeavours once again to utilize the good offices of the Secretary-General to inject the required impetus into the process. It would seem timely today that we seriously embark on laying the solid foundations on which to proceed. In this regard, the same operative paragraph requests the Secretary-General to actively — I repeat, actively — pursue his consultations with the States of the region and other concerned States.
The raison d’être for envisaging such an active role for the Secretary-General is consonant with and builds upon his ongoing and long-lasting endeavours, exerted over a lengthy period of time. This kind of revitalized and active role for the Secretary-General serves our cause well. I would also like to invite the Committee's attention to the eighth preambular paragraph and operative paragraph 9, in which reference is made to the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. It is a broader initiative, which not only highlights the nuclear factor but adds to it the chemical as well as the biological weapons dimensions. This initiative, may I state, departs from the genesis of the draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/52/L.4 and it does so by broadening the concept and scope of the prohibition to include the chemical and biological dimensions.
Since the announcement of this initiative by President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt on 9 April 1990, it has been attracting an ever widening degree of support. The Security Council adopted resolution 687 (1991) on 8 April 1991, which reiterates the need to work towards the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.
From a different angle, the League of Arab States has, for the past three years, established an active group of experts to elaborate the principles and provisions of a draft treaty on the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the region of the Middle East. It is our sincere hope that the States of the Middle East will work towards the implementation of both proposals simultaneously, in order to eliminate the shadow of suspicion and mistrust.
Finally, I commend to the First Committee this draft resolution in the hope that it will receive the same support as have those of previous years and will be adopted without a vote.
(Israel): I wish to speak on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4*, where the asterisk apparently indicates that the document was reissued for technical reasons. This is not the case, and my delegation wishes to register its protest about a practice by which a significant change has been introduced to a draft resolution without its issuance as a revised text. Paragraph 4 of the original draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4 reads as follows:
“Notes the importance of the ongoing bilateral Middle East peace negotiations and the activities of the multilateral Working Group on Arms Control and Regional Security in promoting mutual confidence and security in the Middle East, including the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone”.
In paragraph 4 of draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4* the words “the activities of” with regard to the multilateral Working Group on Arms Control and Regional Security are deleted.
At this advanced stage in the life of this draft resolution, Israel fails to see the rationale behind the proposed changes to the existing text as adopted by consensus in previous years. We would hesitate to guess that these repeated initiatives to amend the draft resolution are intended to make it more difficult each year for us to remain within the consensus. We cannot be part of this game, and we cannot be part of the consensus if the text of the draft resolution is to be eroded.
My delegation wishes therefore to move formally an amendment by which the words “the activities of” would be restored to paragraph 4 of draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4*. I shall provide this amendment in writing.
Mr. Abdel Aziz
(Egypt): I wanted to comment immediately on what has just been raised by the representative of Israel. In fact, when it submitted draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4, the delegation of Egypt presented the Secretariat with a text containing the wording found in draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4*. There were some technical problems lying with the Secretariat; the problems were not with the delegation of Egypt. The original document A/C.1/52/L.4 omitted revisions we had supplied to the draft resolution. I trust that the Secretary of the Committee will confirm this and thus clarify the misunderstanding of the delegation of Israel with regard to this draft resolution. If the delegation of Israel wishes to move formal amendments, as it already has done in document A/C.1/52/L.46, it has the opportunity and the freedom to do so.
The meeting rose at 6.05 p.m.