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        General Assembly
24 October 1985

Official Records

20th meeting held on
Thursday, 24 October 1985
at 3 p.m. New York


Chairman: Mr. AL-QAYSI (Iraq)

The meeting was called to order at 3.20 p.m.



Mr. ALAKWAA (Yemen)

30. No one was safe from international terrorism, which was constantly on the rise, and there had still been no success in reaching agreement at the level of international law on definitions of terrorism as practised by individuals, groups or States. Terrorism went under various names, but the outcome was the same. The acts perpetrated by Israel against Arab States and the Palestinian Arab people or by South Africa against the Namibian people constituted the best proof of that.



48. The peoples of Palestine and southern Africa were persistently denied their right to self-determination and lived in a continuing reign of terror imposed by the Zionist regime and the apartheid regime, which were even condoned by some when they terrorized the whole region. Proof of that were the recent acts of aggression by South Africa against Angola and the brutal air raid by Israel against Tunisia.


63. Mr. OKELLO (Uganda) said that his delegation firmly opposed any attempt, whether direct or indirect, to identify or interpret the activities of national liberation movements recognized by the Organization of African Unity or the League of Arab States as falling within the concept of international terrorism. As long as South Africa continued to apply its criminal policy of apartheid and remained intransigent on the question of the independence of Namibia and as long as the question of Palestine remained unsolved, acts of violence would not cease; such acts must be seen as the direct results of colonialism, apartheid, the occupation of other people's territory by force and denial of the right to self-determination. Those problems were a source of violence extending well beyond the region in which they existed and were a constant threat to the peace and security of everyone. To describe such violence as "terrorism" would be a serious mistake. Furthermore, poverty and hunger, which were more widespread than ever, and the imbalance and injustice characterizing the current international economic system engendered a hopelessness which often saw in violence the only means of effecting radical changes. The international community needed to address those problems realistically, for it was not through delays and hypocrisy that solutions would be found and the violence ended.


Mr. OMAR (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)

74. .....Possibly the most dangerous form of international terrorism was that experienced by the South African, Namibian and Palestinian peoples. The Ad Hoc Committee on International Terrorism had determined the underlying political, economic and social causes of international terrorism (A/34/37, pp. 20 and 21). The General Assembly had subsequently called on States to co-operate in order to contribute to the elimination of the causes and problem of international terrorism by paying special attention to any situation that might give rise to international terrorism (resolution 34/145, paras. 6 and 13).


Mr. KAHALEH (Syrian Arab Republic)

86. The United States had launched an official and a media campaign condemning those responsible for the operation, but they had done nothing of the kind regarding the Israeli aggression in Tunisia; similarly, they were launching a campaign in the case of the American Jew killed aboard the Achille Lauro, but doing nothing in response to the murder of an American of Palestinian origin committed by supporters of Kahane Zionist terrorism. In that way the United States sought to divert attention from the Israeli attack, which constituted a flagrant violation of the principle of non-use of force in international relations and one that even the members of NATO had condemned, and from the interception of the Egyptian aircraft, which had been carried out in violation of international laws and custom.

87. The attack on Tunisia, the hijacking of the Egyptian aircraft and, before that, the mining of Nicaragua's coasts, the policy of apartheid in South Africa and that country's attacks on neighbouring countries, the invasion of Lebanon, the bombing of Iraqi nuclear installations and Palestine refugee camps, the blowing up of houses and the detention without trial of civilians in the occupied territories were all acts of State terrorism far more serious than the acts of terrorism committed by individuals. To allow, as Israel and the United States did, State terrorism to be used to respond to individual terrorism only created a vicious circle.

88. It was only by studying the underlying causes of terrorism and combating them that it would be possible to combat terrorism itself, for instance by allowing the Palestinian people to exercise its right to self-determination in an independent State.

89. The policy currently pursued by the United States Government ran counter to its interests in the Middle East and, if that situation continued, no national of that country would be able to enter without risk a country dominated politically by the United States.

90. A distinction must be made between national resistance and terrorism and it was regrettable that the two were usually equated, for instance with regard to the national resistance struggle in south Lebanon and the struggle of the Palestinian people to exercise its legitimate rights. Ifs such struggles were terrorism, then the national resistance to Nazi occupation in Europe during the Second World War must also be regarded as a form of terrorism.


92. Mr. ARMALI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that the Palestinian people and its sole legitimate representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization, had always condemned terrorism and the policy of terror, which endangered innocent human lives and created a psychosis of fear in order to push individuals and masses into behaving according to the objectives fixed by those who practised that policy.

93. The Palestinian people had always been the victim of that terrorism which, long before the creation of Israel in 1948, had been directed at it by the Zionist settlers and their ill-famed terrorist organizations. After 1948, terror had become the principal instrument of Israel's leaders against the Palestinian Arab population, as tragic examples which had marked the history of the Palestinian people had proved. Since the emergence of the Palestinian national identity and its corollary, armed resistance to the Israeli occupier, the refugee camps had become the favourite target of Israeli state terrorism. That terror had reached its climax with the siege of Beirut in 1982, followed shortly thereafter by the Sabra and Shatila massacres. The Israeli raid on Tunisia on 1 October 1985 had simply confirmed that Israel had adopted State terrorism as an instrument of its policy of aggression and expansion.

94. It was that form of terrorism - the most dangerous for international peace and security - that the international community must rank among the foremost of its concerns, especially when it was used to prevent peoples from exercising their right to self-determination or to perpetuate foreign occupation, as was the case at present in South Africa and the territories occupied by Israel. It was in order to change that situation that liberation movements pursued their legitimate struggle, with means far outmatched by those of their oppressors. Strong in the knowledge of their military superiority and comforted by the massive support they received from Washington, the racist regimes of Pretoria and Tel Aviv continued to cultivate the confusion between the concept of legitimate national resistance and that of terrorism.

95. The Palestine Liberation Organization could not but reiterate its condemnation of acts which threatened the lives of innocent people, and it endorsed all the international treaties aimed at condemning and preventing such acts. Those treaties formed a whole, however, and the Palestine Liberation Organization regretted that the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 had yet to enter into force, nine years after the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts had completed its work. That Conference had recognized the international character of the conflicts which pitted national liberation movements against their oppressors and occupiers and had conferred prisoner-of-war status on captured freedom fighters. The principles set forth in the Additional Protocols must be taken into account in any convention which sought to combat international terrorism, if it was to be balanced and objective.

96. Furthermore, in the struggle against terrorism, one could not ignore the underlying causes of certain acts of violence, for instance the exasperation and despair engendered by persistent denial of the fundamental right to self-determination. After the condemnable hijacking of the Achille Laura, a smear campaign had been unleashed against the Palestine Liberation Organization. Its objective was clear: to undermine the political gains of the Palestinian people and to deprive it of its political leadership in order to leave the field clear for Israel's annexationist ambitions. The main target of that campaign, however, remained the peace process to which the Palestine Liberation Organization had adhered and which had placed Israel and its protectors in an embarrassing position. Considerable hypocrisy and cynicism were being displayed for the sole purpose of wiping off the political map the legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people. The cruel national experience undergone by that people had engendered in it a profound respect for human rights, but how long would it have to wait to see those rights become a reality for it? Unless that question was answered satisfactorily, the future presaged only violence and devastation. The Palestinian people desired only peace and justice and that desire called for a positive response from the international community and a commitment by it to ensuring that it was achieved.


105. Miss CHOKRON (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that no later than 22 October a bomb had injured five people, including a baby, in the market at Afula in Israel. The PLO had laid claim to that feat of arms, thus revealing its true nature. As for the representative of the PLO, he had confused everything in his statement.

106. The media had recently reported that a meeting between the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and a Jordanian and PLO delegation had been cancelled, because the representative of the PLO had refused to sign a declaration recognizing the right of Israel to exist; that confirmed that the goal of the PLO was to wipe Israel off the map and that the PLO was not willing to desist from the acts of terrorism that it was constantly perpetrating, not only against Israel, moreover.

107. Some delegations, particularly those of the Sudan and Yemen, had condemned Israel and South Africa in the same breath in an attempt to equate zionism and apartheid, whereas the actual facts were completely different, There was not a single national liberation movement in Africa that was seeking to erase a State Member of the United Nations from the map of the world, any more than there was a right to self-determination entailing a license to kill indiscriminately.

108. It had been claimed that terrorism was difficult to define, whereas everybody recognized an act of terrorism when it occurred. One might therefore ask oneself what the motives of those who were seeking to confuse the debate in that manner were. In that connection, she wished to refer to the statement made by the representative of the Soviet Union and to the communication from the Byelorussian SSR (A/40/445/Add.2), in which the problem in question had been deliberately removed from its context. It would surely be in the interest of the socialist bloc, which was no longer immune to terrorism, to reconsider its positions and to cease attacking Israel without rhyme or reason.

109. Israel would continue to combat terrorism and categorically rejected assertions that it was resistance to terrorism, not terrorism itself, that was impeding peace efforts. Israel would continue to seek peace, despite terrorism.

110. Mr. ARMALI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the representative of Israel had once again displayed a cynical attitude. However, he had at least been frank in confirming that Israel was going to continue with its state terrorism. That spiral of violence could not but trigger other acts of violence.

111. Miss CHOKRON (Israel) expressed surprise that the Observer for the PLO should address her in the masculine form.

112. Mr. ARMALI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization), replied that he was in fact addressing the Chairman.

113. It would have been preferable if, instead of drawing attention to the death of an Israeli baby, the representative of Israel had spoken of all the innocent Palestinians, Lebanese and Arabs who had lost their lives as a result of Israeli shelling over the past 15 years. As for the reference to the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation that was to have been received at London, the representative of Israel was surely not trying to give the impression that her Government had welcomed the process of seeking a political solution set in motion by Jordan and the PLO. In that connection, she had referred yet again to the right of Israel to exist, whereas what was really at issue was the national identity of the Palestinian people, which they had been denied since 1948. Moreover, he wondered whether the Israel that was being referred to was that of 1947, 1948, 1956, 1967 or 1973.

114. Miss CHOKRON (Israel), speaking on a point of order, said that the question of the borders of Israel was in no way relevant to the item under consideration. She had merely referred to the very latest incident that the PLO had boasted of; if she had to draw up a list of all the crimes committed by the PLO and of the Palestinians who had themselves fallen victim to that organization, it would be interminable.

115. Mr. ARMALI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that, while speaking on a point of order, the representative of Israel had taken the opportunity to attempt to make a substantive reply.

116. Mr. ALAKWAA (Yemen), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the representative of Israel knew very well that he had said nothing in his statement that was not already known throughout the world. An Israeli leader had called on United States Jews to make contributions to make possible the massacre of Palestinians and their expulsion from Palestine. It could thus be seen that Israeli reasoning was the same as that of South Africa, which was denying its people the right to self-determination.


118. Mr. ABDELRAHMAN (Sudan), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Israel, which had been established on the basis of terror, was still resorting to terror with a view to expelling the Palestinians from their homeland, in violation not only of international law and the principles of the Charter but also of the most elementary principles on which civilization was based.


120. Miss CHOKRON (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that for the representative of the Soviet Union the review of events seemed to begin at the point where three Israelis had been killed at Larnaca. If she had to draw up a list of all the acts of terrorism committed by the PLO against Israel, it would be unending. She wished to reiterate, for the benefit of the representative of the Soviet Union, that Israel rejected, as a complete absurdity, the assertion that it was resistance to terrorism, not terrorism itself, that was an obstacle to peace efforts, and to ask him what his country was doing to promote peace. In response to the representative of Yemen, she wished to stress that it was the exercise by the Israeli people of the right to self-determination that had given rise to the State of Israel, which certain parties were seeking to wipe off the map, while at the same time defending the right to self-determination of other peoples.

121. Mr. NECHAEV (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the proposals put forward by the Soviet Union with a view to promoting peace were well known. It would be possible to draw up a long list of acts of terrorism committed against the Palestinian and Arab peoples. However, a reference to the Sabra and Shatila massacres would suffice to show just how much the peace proposals put forward by Israel were worth. If terrorism was to be eliminated, the underlying causes would have to be removed, particularly the occupation of Arab territories.

The meeting rose at 6.55 p.m.

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