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UNITED
NATIONS
A S

        General Assembly
        Security Council
Distr.
GENERAL
A/45/726
S/21947

26 November 1990

ORIGINAL: ENGLISH

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Forty-fifth session
Agenda item 35
THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
SECURITY COUNCIL
Forty-fifth year



Report of the Secretary-General
CONTENTS


Paragraph
Page
I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.
INTRODUCTION...............................................

UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPING ACTIVITIES ...................

SITUATION IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES .....................

PALESTINE REFUGEE PROBLEM .................................

QUESTION OF PALESTINE .....................................

SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST ..............................

OBSERVATIONS ..............................................
1

2 - 11

12 - 16

17 - 18

19 - 21

22 - 25

26 - 29
2

2

4

6

7

8

10


I. INTRODUCTION

1. The present report is submitted in pursuance of General Assembly resolution 44/40 A of 4 December 1989. In that resolution, the Assembly dealt with various aspects of the situation in the Middle East and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council periodically on the development of the situation and to submit to the Assembly at its forty-fifth session a comprehensive report covering the developments in the Middle East in all their aspects. The present report covers the period from 18 November 1989 to 19 November 1990. It should be pointed out, however, that the report does not address the situation between Iraq and Kuwait. It is based mainly on information available in United Nations documents, to which references are made whenever appropriate.

II. UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPING ACTIVITIES

2. There continue to be three United Nations peace-keeping operations in the area: two peace-keeping forces, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and one observer mission, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).

A. United Nations Disengagement Observer Force

3. UNDOF, with some 1,330 troops provided by Austria, Canada, Finland and Poland, is deployed between the Israeli and Syrian forces on the Golan Heights in accordance with the disengagement agreement concluded between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic in May 1974. A group of UNTSO observers is detailed to the Force and assists it in the performance of its tasks. The main functions of the Force are to supervise the cease-fire between the Israeli and Syrian forces and to man the area of separation established by the disengagement agreement. The mandate of UNDOF has been extended twice by the Security Council during the reporting period, the last time on 31 May 1990 for a further period of six months until 30 November 1990 (resolution 655 (1990)).

4. The activities of the Force since November 1989 are described in a report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council, dated 22 May 1990 (S/21305). As reported by the Secretary-General, the situation in the Israel-Syria sector has remained generally quiet; UNDOF has continued to perform its functions effectively with the co-operation of the parties, and there have been no serious incidents.

B. United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon

5. UNIFIL, which is deployed in southern Lebanon, was established by the Security Council on 19 March 1978, following the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Its terms of reference were - and still are - to confirm the withdrawal of the Israeli forces as called for by the Security Council, to restore international peace and security and to assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area (resolution 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978).

6. The mandate of the Force has since been extended as necessary, the last time on 31 July 1990 for a further period of six months until 31 January 1991 (resolution 659 (1990)). UNIFIL currently has some 5,860 troops, provided by Fiji, Finland, France, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Nepal, Norway and Sweden. A group of UNTSO observers assists the Force in the performance of its tasks.

7. The activities of UNIFIL and the situation in its area of operation in southern Lebanon from November 1989 until 24 July 1990 are described in two reports of the Secretary-General to the Security Council, dated 25 January 1990 (S/21102) and 24 July 1990 (S/21406 and Add.1 and Corr.1). In the latter report (S/21406/Add.1), the Secretary-General referred in particular to the difficulties encountered by UNIFIL in the Norwegian battalion sector, which lies wholly within the Israeli controlled area, and to a particularly serious confrontation that occurred in July 1990 in that sector between UNIFIL, on the one hand, and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and the de facto forces (DFF), on the other. Calling attention to the fact that peace-keeping operations cannot function without the co-operation of the parties concerned, the Secretary-General stated that, if the situation in the Norwegian battalion sector of UNIFIL did not improve, it might become necessary for the Security Council to consider whether UNIFIL's role in that area should be changed.

8. Following the adoption of Security Council resolution 659 (1990), extending the mandate of UNIFIL for a further period of six months until 31 January 1991, the President of the Security Council conveyed to the Secretary-General on 24 September 1990 the request of the members of the Council for a review, to be carried out during the present mandate period, of the scale and deployment of UNIFIL in the light of the performance by the Force of its functions since its establishment in 1978 and with a view to implementing resolution 425 (1978) (S/21833). This review is under way and the Secretary-General intends to report on its results in his next report to the Security Council on the operation of UNIFIL in January 1991.

C. United Nations Truce Supervision Organization

9. As indicated in the preceding sections, observers of UNTSO have continued to assist UNDOF and UNIFIL in the performance of their tasks. In addition, UNTSO conducts two observation operations of its own, the Observer Group at Beirut and the Observer Group in Egypt.

10. The Observer Group at Beirut was set up by the Security Council in August 1982 following the occupation of West Beirut by Israeli troops. Since the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from the Beirut area in September 1983, the activities of the Group have been reduced and its total strength now stands at eight observers.

11. The Observer Group in Egypt, which was established when the second United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF II) was withdrawn in July 1979, has a total strength of about 50 observers. It maintains, in addition to liaison offices at Cairo and Ismailia, six outposts in the Sinai.

III. SITUATION IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

12. The General Assembly, at its forty-fourth session, after considering the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (A/44/599), which is composed of Senegal, Sri Lanka and Yugoslavia, adopted resolutions 44/48 A to G on 8 December 1989. By these resolutions, the General Assembly, inter alia, demanded that Israel desist forthwith from a number of policies and practices mentioned in the resolution and renewed the mandate of the Special Committee (resolution 44/48 A); reaffirmed that the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, was applicable to the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, and strongly demanded that Israel acknowledge and comply with its provisions (resolution 44/48 B); demanded that the Government of Israel desist forthwith from taking any action that would result in changing the legal status, geographical nature or demographic composition of the Palestinian and other Arab territories (resolution 44/48 C); deplored the Israeli arbitrary detention or imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians (resolution 44/48 D); demanded that the Government of Israel rescind the illegal measures taken in deporting Palestinians and that it facilitate their immediate return (resolution 44/48 E); determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel that purported to alter the character and legal status of the Syrian Arab Golan were null and void and constituted a flagrant violation of international law (resolution 44/48 F); and condemned Israeli policies and practices against Palestinian students and faculties in educational institutions in the occupied Palestinian territories and demanded that it comply with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, rescind all actions and measures taken against those institutions, ensure the freedom of those institutions and refrain forthwith from hindering the effective operation of those institutions (resolution 44/48 G).

13. During the period under review, the Security Council met in March, May, October and November 1990 to discuss the situation in the occupied Arab territories. On 31 May 1990, the Security Council voted on a draft resolution (S/21326) submitted by seven members, by which the Council would have established a Commission consisting of three members of the Security Council, to be dispatched immediately to examine the situation relating to the policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, in the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967; requested the Commission to submit its report to the Security Council by 20 June 1990, containing recommendations on ways and means for ensuring the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians under Israeli occupation; requested the Secretary-General to provide the Commission with the necessary facilities to enable it to carry out its mission; decided to keep the situation in the occupied territories under constant and close scrutiny and to reconvene to review the situation in the light of the findings of the Commission. The resolution was not adopted, owing to a negative vote by a permanent member. In a presidential statement dated 19 June 1990 (S/21363), the members of the Security Council strongly deplored the incident that had occurred on 12 June 1990 in a clinic belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) and located near to Shati camp in Gaza, in which several innocent Palestinian women and children were wounded by a tear-gas grenade thrown by an Israeli officer. Expressing dismay that the penalty imposed on that officer had been commuted, the members reaffirmed that the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, was applicable to the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, and requested the high contracting parties to ensure respect for the Convention. They called upon Israel to abide by its obligations under that Convention. On 12 October 1990, the Security Council adopted resolution 672 (1990) by which it expressed alarm at the violence that took place on 8 October at the Haram al-Sharif and other Holy Places of Jerusalem resulting in over 20 Palestinian deaths and to the injury of more than 150 people, including Palestinian civilians and innocent worshippers; condemned especially the acts of violence committed by the Israeli security forces resulting in injuries and loss of human life; called upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is applicable to all the territories occupied by Israel since 1967; requested, in connection with the decision of the Secretary-General to send a mission to the region, which the Council welcomed, that he submit a report to it before the end of October 1990 containing his findings and conclusions and that he use as appropriate all of the resources of the United Nations in the region in carrying out the mission. On 24 October 1990, the Council adopted resolution 673 (1990) by which it deplored the refusal of the Israeli Government to receive the mission of the Secretary-General to the region; urged the Israeli Government to reconsider its decision and insisted that it comply fully with resolution 672 (1990) and to permit the mission of the Secretary-General to proceed in keeping with its purpose; requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Council the report requested in resolution 672 (1990); and affirmed its determination to give full and expeditious consideration to the report. The report requested of the Secretary-General in resolutions 672 (1990) and 673 (1990) has been circulated as documents S/21919 and Add.1-3 and Corr.1.

14. On 16 February 1990, the Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution 1990/1 concerning Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories, by which it affirmed that the settling of Israeli civilians in the occupied territories is illegal and contravenes the relevant provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and called upon the Government of Israel to refrain from settling immigrants in the occupied territories. The Commission also adopted resolutions 1990/2 A and B concerning the question of violations of human rights in occupied Palestine. Those resolutions, in which the Commission condemned Israeli policies and practices in the occupied territories, along lines similar to those of General Assembly resolution 44/48 A, were brought to the attention of all Governments by a note verbale dated 1 June 1990. Furthermore, the Commission adopted resolution 1990/3, by which it declared once more that the continued Israeli occupation of the Syrian Arab Golan and its decision on 14 December 1981 to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan were null and void and had no international legal effect.

15. The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories held periodic meetings in pursuance of resolution 44/48 A. Between meetings, the Special Committee was kept informed of developments taking place in the occupied territories; the information was gathered from a variety of sources, including oral testimony and written communications. At its meetings, the Special Committee reviewed this information and assessed the human rights situation in the occupied territories. In accordance with resolution 44/48 A, the General Assembly, at its forty-fifth session, will have before it the periodic reports of the Special Committee (A/45/84 and A/45/306), as well as the Special Committee's twenty-second report (A/45/576).

16. During its forty-fourth session, the General Assembly also adopted resolution 44/235 of 22 December 1989 concerning assistance to the Palestinian people. The report requested in that resolution has been circulated as document A/45/503.

IV. PALESTINE REFUGEE PROBLEM

17. Following its consideration, at its forty-fourth session, of the report of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA for the period 1 July 1988 to 30 June 1989,1/ the General Assembly adopted 11 resolutions on this subject on 8 December 1989. In resolution 44/47 A, the Assembly noted with deep regret that repatriation or compensation of the refugees as provided for in paragraph 11 of resolution 194 (III) had not been effected, that no substantial progress had been made in the programme endorsed by the Assembly in paragraph 2 of its resolution 513 (VI) for the reintegration of refugees either by repatriation or resettlement and that, therefore, the situation of the refugees continued to be a matter of serious concern; expressed its thanks to the Commissioner-General and to all the staff of UNRWA, recognizing that the Agency was doing all it could within the limits of available resources; reiterated its request that the headquarters of the Agency should be relocated to its former site within its area of operations as soon as practicable; noted with regret that the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine had been unable to find a means of achieving progress in the implementation of paragraph 11 of resolution 194 (III), and requested the Commission to exert continued efforts towards the implementation of that paragraph and to report to the Assembly as appropriate, but not later than 1 September 1990; directed attention to the continuing seriousness of the financial position of the Agency as outlined in the report of the Commissioner-General; noted with concern that, despite the commendable and successful efforts of the Commissioner-General to collect additional contributions, this increased level of income to the Agency was still insufficient to cover current essential requirements; called upon all Governments, as a matter of urgency, to make the most generous efforts possible to meet the anticipated needs of the Agency, and decided to extend the mandate of UNRWA until 30 June 1993, without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194 (III).

18. The other resolutions adopted by the General Assembly dealt with the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA (resolution 44/47 B); assistance to persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities (resolution 44/47 C); offers by Member States of grants and scholarships for higher education, including vocational training, for Palestine refugees (resolution 44/47 D); Palestine refugees in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967 (resolution 44/47 E); resumption of the ration distribution to Palestine refugees (resolution 44/47 F); return of population and refugees displaced since 1967 (resolution 44/47 G); revenues derived from Palestine refugees' properties (resolution 44/47 H); protection of Palestine refugees (resolution 44/47 I); the University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds" for Palestine refugees (resolution 44/47 J); and protection of Palestinian students and educational institutions and safeguarding of the security of the facilities of UNRWA in the occupied Palestinian territory (resolution 44/47 K). The situation of the Palestine refugees and the activities of UNRWA since the adoption of these resolutions are described in the annual report of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA for the period of 1 July 1989 to 30 June 1990.2/ The reports of the Secretary-General under resolutions 44/47 D, E, F, G, H, I, J and K have been circulated as documents A/45/463, A/45/464, A/45/465, A/45/466, A/45/429, A/45/641, A/45/530 and A/45/646, respectively. The report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine under resolution 44/47 A and the report of the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA under resolution 44/47 B have been circulated as documents A/45/382 and A/45/645, respectively.

V. QUESTION OF PALESTINE

19. At its forty-fourth session, on 6 December 1989, the General Assembly adopted four resolutions under the agenda item entitled "Question of Palestine". In resolution 44/41 A, the Assembly endorsed the recommendations of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People;3/ requested the Committee to continue to keep under review the situation relating to the question of Palestine as well as the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Achievement of Palestinian Rights;4/ and authorized the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the implementation of its recommendations. In resolution 44/41 B, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to provide the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat with the necessary resources and to ensure that it continued to discharge the tasks detailed in previous relevant resolutions of the General Assembly in consultation with the Committee. In resolution 44/41 C, the Assembly requested the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat, in full co-operation and co-ordination with the Committee, to continue its special information programme on the question of Palestine. In resolution 44/42, the Assembly reaffirmed the urgent need to achieve a just and comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the core of which is the question of Palestine; called once again for the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, under the auspices of the United Nations, with the participation of all parties to the conflict, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, on an equal footing, and the five permanent members of the Security Council based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973 and the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination. The Assembly also reaffirmed the following principles for the achievement of comprehensive peace: the withdrawal of Israel from Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem and from the other occupied Arab territories; guaranteeing arrangements for security of all States in the region, including those named in resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, within secure and internationally recognized boundaries; resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees in conformity with General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, and subsequent relevant resolutions; dismantling the Israeli settlements in the territories occupied since 1967; and guaranteeing freedom of access to Holy Places, religious buildings and sites. It noted the expressed desire and endeavours to place the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, under the supervision of the United Nations for a limited period, as part of the peace process; once again invited the Security Council to consider measures needed to convene the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, including the establishment of a preparatory committee, and to consider guarantees for security measures agreed upon by the Conference for all States in the region; and requested the Secretary-General to continue his efforts with the parties concerned, and in consultation with the Security Council, to facilitate the convening of the Conference, and to submit progress reports on developments in this matter.

20. The report requested of the Secretary-General in resolution 44/42 has been circulated as A/45/709-S/21929.

21. The report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to the forty-fifth session of the General Assembly has been circulated as document A/45/35.5/

VI. SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

22. At its forty-fourth session, on 4 December 1989, the General Assembly adopted three resolutions concerning the situation in the Middle East. In resolution 44/40 A, the Assembly reaffirmed its conviction that the question of Palestine was the core of the conflict in the Middle East and that no comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region would be achieved without the full exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable national rights and the immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories; reaffirmed that a just and comprehensive settlement of the situation in the Middle East could not be achieved without the participation on an equal footing of all the
parties to the conflict, including the Palestine Liberation Organization; declared that peace in the Middle East was indivisible and must be based on a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Middle East problem, under the auspices of the United Nations and on the basis of its relevant resolutions; considered the Arab Peace Plan 6/ adopted unanimously at the Twelfth Arab Summit Conference, held at Fez, Morocco, and reiterated by the Extraordinary Summit Conference of Arab States, held at Casablanca, Morocco, as an important contribution towards the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people through the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace; condemned Israel's continued occupation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories, and demanded the immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal of Israel from all the territories occupied since 1967; rejected all agreements and arrangements that violated the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and contradicted the principles of a just and comprehensive solution to the Middle East problem; determined that Israel's decision to annex Jerusalem and to declare it as its "capital" as well as the measures to alter its physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and status were null and void and demanded that they be rescinded immediately; condemned Israel's aggression, policies and practices against the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory and outside this territory; condemned Israel's annexationist policies and practices in the occupied Syrian Arab Golan; considered that the agreements on strategic co-operation between the United States of America and Israel, of 30 November 1981, and the continued supply of modern arms and matériel to Israel, augmented by substantial economic aid, had encouraged Israel to pursue its aggressive and expansionist policies and practices, had had adverse effects on efforts for the establishment of peace in the Middle East and posed a threat to the security of the region; called upon all States to put an end to the flow to Israel of any military, economic, financial and technological aid, as well as of human resources, aimed at encouraging it to pursue its aggressive policies against the Arab countries and the Palestinian people; strongly condemned the collaboration between Israel and the racist régime of South Africa; reaffirmed its call for the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, under the auspices of the United Nations, with the participation of the five permanent members of the Security Council and all parties to the conflict, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, on an equal footing, and that the Conference should be effective with full authority, in order to achieve a comprehensive and just solution based on the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories, and the attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in accordance with United Nations resolutions relevant to the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East and endorsed the call for setting up a preparatory committee to take the necessary action to convene the Conference. The other parts of resolution 43/54 deal with Israeli policies in the Syrian Arab Golan and the other occupied territories (resolution 44/40 B) and the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem (resolution 44/40 C).

23. Resolutions 44/40 A to C were brought to the attention of Member States, and a report of the Secretary-General including the relevant comments received from the Member States was circulated as document A/45/595.

24. During the period under review, the Security Council issued two statements on Lebanon. On 22 November 1989, following consultations with the members of the Security Council, the President of the Council made a statement (S/20988) on behalf of the Council at its 2894th meeting. In it, the members expressed their deep indignation and dismay over the assassination of Mr. René Moawad, President of the Lebanese Republic, earlier that day in Beirut. They expressed their sympathy and condolences to the family of the late President, to the Prime Minister and to the Lebanese people. They strongly condemned the cowardly, criminal and terrorist act for what it was, an attack upon the unity of Lebanon, the democratic processes and the process of national reconciliation. Reaffirming their support for the efforts undertaken by the Tripartite High Committee of the League of Arab States and for the Taif Agreement, the members said those remained the only basis for guaranteeing the full sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Lebanon. They reiterated their call of 7 November 1989 to all sectors of the Lebanese people to continue the process of achieving the goals of the restoration of the Lebanese State and the establishment of renovated institutions that had started with the election of President Moawad and the appointment of Prime Minister Sélim El-Hoss. Democratic Lebanese institutions must, they said, be strongly supported and the process of national reconciliation must go forward; that was the only way that Lebanese national unity could be fully restored. Solemnly reaffirming their support for the Taif Agreement, ratified by the Lebanese Parliament on 5 November 1989, the members urged all Lebanese people to exercise restraint, to rededicate themselves to the urgent task of national reconciliation and to demonstrate their commitment to democratic processes.

25. On 27 December 1989, following consultations with the members of the Security Council, the President of the Council made a statement (S/21056) on behalf of the Council at its 2903rd meeting. Recalling their statements of 7 November 1989 and 22 November 1989, and relevant Security Council resolutions, the members reaffirmed their full support for the efforts undertaken by the Tripartite High Committee of the League of Arab States and for the Taif Agreement and said those remained the only basis for guaranteeing the full sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Lebanon. The members welcomed the election of Elias Hrawi as successor to the late René Moawad as President of the Lebanese Republic and the appointment of the Lebanese Government led by the Prime Minister Sélim El-Hoss. They reaffirmed the urgency of continuing the process of national reconciliation and political reform embodied in the Taif Agreement, and expressed their deep concern over obstacles that had delayed progress in achieving these goals. Expressing support for President Hrawi's efforts in implementation of the Taif Agreement to deploy Lebanese Government forces to restore central government authority over all Lebanese territory, the members reiterated their call on the Lebanese people, and in particular all Lebanese Government officials, civilian and military, to support their President and the constitutional process initiated at Taif to achieve peacefully the restoration of unity, independence and sovereignty of Lebanon on its entire territory.

VII. OBSERVATIONS

26. Since I last reported to the General Assembly on the situation in the Middle East, the prospects for progress in the Arab-Israeli peace process appear regrettably to have stalled. A year ago, I drew attention to the heightened expectations that had been generated as a result of dramatic political developments at the end of 1988, which, in turn, had led to important proposals, aimed primarily at launching a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. I pointed out that while it was essential to pursue every initiative that might help bridge the gaps between the parties and bring them to the negotiating table, I could not but be concerned at the fact that valuable time was passing and that the willingness to negotiate that existed at that time would be eroded by bitterness resulting from events on the ground.

27. Unfortunately, the efforts to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue reached an impasse in the early months of 1990. Since then, the situation in the occupied territories has worsened, causing the Security Council to focus increasingly on the question of safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians residing there. In this connection, in pursuance of the request contained in its resolutions 672 (1990) of 12 October 1990 and 673 (1990) of 24 October 1990, I submitted to the Security Council a report on the occupied territories on 31 October 1990 (S/21919). In it, I made certain observations on steps the international community might take regarding the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population. At the time of the present report, the Council is continuing its deliberations on the matter. It should be pointed out, however, that the implementation of such steps will not alone bring an end to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, which is, essentially, political in nature. Furthermore, it is important to recall that this conflict is central to the broader Arab-Israeli dispute with its many complex and interrelated issues.

28. In this connection, it is encouraging to note, as I did in my 12 November 1990 report to the General Assembly on the convening of an international peace conference (A/45/709- S/21929), that there is unanimity within the Security Council that efforts must be continued on an urgent basis to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the situation in the Middle East, particularly a solution of the Palestinian problem in all its aspects. I continue to believe that such a settlement can best be achieved through a negotiating process that involves all the parties concerned, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, and is based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the legitimate political rights of the Palestinian people, including self-determination.

29. As I said in my annual report on the work of the Organization,7/ the Middle East as a whole continues to be the most explosive region of the world today. Long-standing grievances, which have festered for years, have been aggravated by an escalating arms race throughout the area, which has spawned a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. In the long run, lasting peace will come to the Middle East only when the principles of international law govern the relations between States, when disputes are resolved through peaceful means, when the aspirations of those deprived of their rights have been fulfilled, and regional security and economic arrangements - which take into account the concerns of all the parties in the area - have been established.

Notes

1/ Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-fourth Session, Supplement No.
13 (A/44/13 and Add.1).

2/ Ibid., Forty-fifth Session, Supplement No. 13 (A/45/13 and Add.1).

3/ Ibid., Forty-fourth Session, Supplement No. 35 (A/44/35).

4/ Report of the International Conference on the Question of Palestine, Geneva,
29 August-7 September 1983 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.83.I.21), chap. I, sect. B.

5/ Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-fifth Session, Supplement
No. 35 (A/45/35).

6/ A/44/737-S/20971; see Official Records of the Security Council, Forty-fourth
Year, Supplement for October, November and December 1989, document S/20971.

7/ Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-fifth Session, Supplement No. 1 (A/45/1).


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