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        General Assembly
14 December 1988


Forty-third session



Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,

on Wednesday, 14 December 1988, at 9 a.m.

President: Mr. CAPUTO (Argentina)

later: Mr. AL-SHAKAR (Vice-President) (Bahrain)

- Organization of work

- Question of Palestine (continued)

(a) Report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

(b) Reports of the Secretary-General

(c) Draft resolutions


MR. QI Huaiyuan (China) (interpretation from Chinese): Since our discussion of the question of Palestine at the last session of the General Assembly there have been encouraging developments in international relations. The international situation is moving towards relaxation, and the peaceful settlement of regional disputes through dialogue has become a major trend. Conflicts in some of the world's hot-spots are on the way to settlement or possible settlement. However, the Palestinian question, which has remained unresolved for more than 40 years, new looms large before the international community. The fact that we have to hold meetings here at Geneva to discuss this question is a matter of regret, and makes us feel more strongly the urgency of finding a solution to it, and to the Middle East question as a whole.

As is known to all, Israel is to date occupying large tracts of Arab territory. As a result, thousands of Palestinians have been crudely deprived of their rights and of their means of subsistence. The Israeli people too have shouldered a heavy burden. The early achievement of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East is the common aspiration of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples, and the long-cherished wish of the Israeli people as well. It is also the universal desire of the international community.

In our view, the Palestinian question is at the core of the Middle East question. There will be no peace and tranquility in the region unless the Palestinian question is resolved. It is most unfair that the Palestinian people, which has been living in Palestine for generation after generation, should have been denied its legitimate national rights. The key to the settlement of this question lies in ensuring that the Palestinian people exercise its legitimate national rights. Over the past few decades the Palestinians, under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), have fought indomitably and heroically for the restoration of their legitimate national rights. Especially since the end of last year, they have been fighting against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, demonstrating a strong will to defy brutal force and never to give up until they reach their goal. Their struggle has spelled the failure of the Israeli policy of occupation. This broadly-based struggle, with extensive sympathy and support from the world's peoples and the international community, has injected new vitality into the Middle East peace process.

The nineteenth extraordinary session held recently by the Palestine National Council at Algiers was an important milestone in the course of the Palestinian people's struggle for the recovery of its lost territories and the restoration of its national rights. The resolutions adopted at the sesion, which were reasonable, practical and flexible, gave expression to the sincerity of the PLO in seeking a political settlement of the Palestinian question. A declaration of independence was adopted at the session, proclaiming the founding of a Palestinian State. It reflected the will of the Palestinian people and its historic choice. It marked a new stage in the Palestinian revolutionary cause.

The declaration of independence explicitly indicated the PLO's readiness to coexist with Israel and stressed the future establishment of a confederation between the Palestinian State and Jordan. In its political statement, the PLO agreed that Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and guarantees of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people should serve as the basis for an international peace conference en the Middle East, and reiterated its opposition to terrorism in all forms, including State terrorism. Recently, Chairman Arafat reaffirmed in Stockholm that the PLO accepted the existence of Israel in the Middle East, as a State".

All of this fully demonstrates the sincerity of the PLO. Now it is high time for Israel to size up the situation and make a positive response. Regrettably, however, the Israeli Government has taken a hostile attitude and has rejected the Positive steps taken by the PLO, threatening to suppress with greater relentlessness the Palestinian people's struggle against occupation. Facts have shown that the obduracy and intransigence of the Israeli authorities are now the main obstacles to settlement of the Middle East question. It is also regrettable that things should have developed to such an extent that the host country of United Nations Headquarters denied PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat an entry visa in an attempt to prevent him from addressing the General Assembly on the PLO's proposals foe the settlement of conflicts in the Middle East. That act not only contravenes the relevant agreement between the host country and the United Nations but harms the peace process in the Middle East.

The Chinese Government and people have all along firmly supported the just struggle of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples and opposed Israeli policies of aggression and expansion. We consider it imperative for Israel to stop its suppression of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories and to withdraw from the Arab territories occupied since 1967 so as to create conditions for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Middle East question. The legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people must be restored to them. On that basis, all the Middle East countries may enjoy their rights to independence and existence. The Israeli authorities should face that reality. Israel and the Palestinian State should recognize each other and enter into negotiations through the convening of a Middle East peace conference so as to achieve a comprehensive and just settlement of the Middle East question. That is the only way to genuine peace and stability in the Middle East region. China will, as always, work hard for a peaceful settlement of the Middle East question.

We are pleased to note that the United Nations is playing an increasingly greater role in promoting a political settlement of regional conflicts. We believe that the United Nations is an appropriate avenue for a peaceful settlement of the Middle East question. The Middle East question has no parallel since the Second World War in terms of its long duration, the numerous wars it has triggered and the extent of disaster it has caused. It is the eager desire of the international community to see the Middle East question settled, which will be in the interest of all the countries in the world. The United Nations can play a greater role in the Middle East question and ought to pay more attention to it by urging all the countries concerned in the Middle East to take action so as to put an early end to the turbulence in the region.

Mr. BEIN (Israel): On behalf of the people and Government of Israel, I should like at the outset to extend to the people and Government of the Soviet Union our heartfelt condolences on the tragic and immense loss of life resulting from the earthquake in Armenia last week.

The atmosphere in the world today has dramatically improved. We have all been inspired by the hope that the improving relations between the two super-Powers will also positively affect our part of the Middle East. We hope that the war-torn nations in our region will also one day - and I hope soon - be able to resolve their problems peacefully and through direct negotiations.

True to this spirit, the United Nations has, in the past few months, been instrumental in bringing about negotiations in the Gulf area, in Afghanistan, in the Sahara, Namibia and in other areas. The battle-weary nations involved in those conflicts who seek peace have realized and affirmed the need for a political process and have asked for United Nations assistance to help resolve last lingering differences in order to facilitate such negotiations and thus foster the prospects of peace.

Unfortunately, some Arab countries do not accept the spirit of peace for which this Organization is supposed to stand. Year after year they use the United Nations as merely another forum to confront Israel with their hostility.

Some Arab leaders have welcomed the new climate in international relations leading to direct negotiations in place of confrontation. Unfortunately, most will not concede that that climate should govern their conduct vis-à-vis Israel.

The debate on the question of Palestine is one-sided and biased. Israel is confronted with repeated hostile and aggressive statements by representatives of more than two dozen States of the Arab League and some others. Those representatives do not call for a genuine peace, but rather state their extreme demands, spiced with outrageous name-calling and false accusations, often coupled with ambiguous statements which in the same breath call for the destruction of Israel and for peace.

All this does not help restore tranquility in the territories, does not enable the Palestinian Arabs to return to normal daily life and does not even further their political aspirations. It definitely does not advance the cause of peace. This debate does not promote a .political dialogue or direct negotiations between Israel and its neighbouring countries and the Palestinian Arabs. To the contrary: this debate, through the resolutions it adopts, obstructs any initiative for direct negotiations. This debate only blocks agreements and postpones the chance of peace.

I am not again going to enter into a detailed presentation of Israel's history and positions. You all know the facts: since its rebirth 40 years ago, Israel has been the victim of ongoing belligerency, aggression and terror by some of the Arab States. Israel has constantly been on the defence against the onslaught of its neighbours. Israel's call for direct peace negotiations have been repeatedly rejected.

The Palestinian problem is a direct outcome of the belligerency of Arab States.

Only one Arab leader had the courage to depart from this course. Ten years ago we welcomed the great leader of Egypt, President Sadat, when he took the courageous step of coming to Jerusalem. That historic visit, coming as it were, in ^e wake of the 1973 Geneva Conference and two interim agreements between Egypt and Israel, brought about the Camp David Accords, and six months later the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, all based on Security Council resolutions 342 (1967) and 338 (1973).

The road travelled by President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin, with the creative and constructive help of American mediation, proved that there are ways out of the cycle of belligerency, provided the wish for a negotiated peace exists on both sides of the border.

It must be clear to all that intimidation and violence must stop. Intimidation breeds belligerency, and violence will only complicate the situation in the area. Solutions can be found only by means of peaceful negotiations on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Hence, violent disturbances must cease. Tranquility and normal daily life must be restored in the territories. It is the human, civil and political obligation of the administering Power, in accordance with international law, which is quoted abundantly in the General Assembly, to maintain public order.

We act, as is our right - indeed, our obligation - under international law, to restore and secure order in the face of violent provocation. We do so with maximum restraint and in full compliance with the laws which were enacted not by Israel, but which were applied to these areas for almost half a century before Israel took control of them.

As a rule, negotiations and dialogue are held between adversaries who strive for peace even though they may not agree on its details and may have different aspirations about its final outcome.

Political aspirations may be legitimate. Car bombs, grenades, shooting and shelling are not.

Peaceful demonstrations are legitimate. Slingshots, bricks, stones and firebombs are not.

To state one's opinion is legitimate. To instigate disturbances, violence and murder is not.

It must be clear to all that violence in any form and to any extent cannot be used to impose political solutions or conditions on Israel. Nor can solutions be imposed on Israel through ambiguous and misleading unilateral declarations.

The Immediate problem we face is to stop the instigators from terrorizing and intimidating their own communities.

We believe that political deadlock may lead to radicalization and deterioration towards situations which could best be prevented through an effective peace process. Such a process includes negotiations and agreements on interim and final arrangements which must take into account the interests of all partners to the conflict, including Israel.

We are all witness to how the emerging aspirations to settle conflicts through Peaceful means is taking root in all parts of the globe. Agreements and understandings are reached between the super-Powers, and regional conflicts are being negotiated in an atmosphere of peace.

We in Israel, like you, Mr. President, I am sure, have entertained the hope that this new atmosphere of peace would also be the guideline of nations in the Middle East and that a new effort would be initiated to solve the problem of this region by direct negotiations and peaceful means.

We have for years nourished the hope that perhaps by the coming new year the atmosphere of peace would engulf our region too, and that the vision of the prophet:

"They shall beat their swords into plowshares" (The Holy Bible, Isaiah 2:4) would come to fruition here and now.

The Palestine National Council (PNC) recently met at Algiers and issued "declarations". Those who hoped for a genuine change were very disappointed. The Government of Israel believes that the recent declarations by the PNC have not departed from extreme and uncompromising positions. The PNC meeting at Algiers did not adopt meaningful steps. The common denominator of the different factions remains the extreme, excluding any compromise, rejecting the very idea of negotiations for peace.

I am not going to analyse here in detail the resolutions of the PNC. I would like, however, to comment on a few of them in order to illustrate some crucial points.

First, the decisions of the PNC constitute a unilateral act that will not advance dialogue and compromise. Nor will it advance the prospects for peace. In the striving for a solution to the Middle East conflict, every step must be negotiated and must be mutually agreed upon. In the Algiers declaration, the word "negotiations" is not mentioned, not even hinted at.

Secondly, the declaration from Algiers proclaims a so-called independent Palestinian State, with no territory, no borders and with Jerusalem, my home town and the capital of Israel, as its declared capital. That declaration has no meaning in reality. It serves only as another stumbling-block on the road to a negotiated peace, with no pre-conditions, which must take account of Israel's legitimate security interests.

Thirdly, the PNC reference to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) does not constitute acceptance of those resolutions and of the principles enshrined therein. Instead, the PNC referred to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) only in conjunction or, as they term it:

which contradict Security Council .resolution 242 (1967) and undermine it. Many of those United Nations resolutions seek to impair Israel's legitimacy and its very existence.

Fourthly, the PLO has not abandoned terrorism. The killing of women and children in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is clearly condoned. Burning Jewish families alive is encouraged. There is no, indication that the "armed struggle" will cease. That is why we believe that the courageous decision of Secretary of State Shultz was necessary and justified and the decision of the General Assembly to move the debate to Geneva unnecessary and unjustified.

In fact, on 20 July 1988, a Fatah communiqué on the Algiers-based Voice of Palestine clearly stated:

Even as the PNC was meeting at Algiers, PLO terrorists of Yasser Arafat's Fatah were busy. Attempts were made to infiltrate Israel, to take hostages and carry out mass murders. One group was caught by the Israel Defense Forces. Another was confronted by a unit of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and two Lebanese hostages were murdered in cold blood by the PLO terrorists.

And in Algiers, Abul Abbas, a member of the PLO's "executive committee", the mastermind behind the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, even joked callously about the murder of the 69 year-old American Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffen: "Perhaps he went for a swim".

At Algiers, some Arab spokesmen tried to create the impression of moderation, claiming that Israel was recognized "implicitly". What does "implied" recognition mean? The sections of the WC declarations referring to "solutions" of the conflict ignore Israel altogether. When it is mentioned, in other sections, it is accompanied by various adjectives which are beneath my dignity to even recall before you here.

Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO "political department", helps us not to misinterpret the PLO's "recognition". On 8 November 1988, he declared to the Tokyo Shimbun;

Just last week, on 4 December 1988, Abu Iyad, the number two in the Fatah's hierarchy, was asked whether the PNC's mention of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) constitute a recognition of Israel. In his reply in al-Wattan al-Arabi, Lebanon, dated 4 December 1988, he stated: A number of PLO spokesmen have reiterated, time and again, that a Palestinian State in the territories would only be an interim solution, which is part of a phased programme seeking, as its final objective, to seize "all of Palestine".

On 22 November 1988, Ahmed Sadki al-Dejani, a member of the PLO's "educational and cultural council" and high-ranking PNC deputy, wrote in Okaz, Saudi Arabia:

Abdel Hamid el-Saih, Chairman of the PNC, defines this objective in al-Shara, dated 22 August 1988, saying: In the complex and fragile setting of the Arab-Israeli dispute, the Algiers "resolutions" seem to have only further complicated prospects for a solution. The PLO continues to frustrate and stand in the way of negotiations that would serve to reach a solution mutually acceptable to Israel and its neighbours, including the Palestinian people. The vague phraseology of the PNC at Algiers cannot hide the PLO's continued commitment to the common denominator which unites all its factions:, the path of rejection, violence and terror.

Such an organization cannot be a negotiating partner for Israel or any State which respects justice, international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

Neither the assumed acceptance of Security Council resolution 242 (1967), nor the implied recognition of Israel, nor the alleged abandonment of terrorism, has taken place. Indeed, the critical and careful balance represented by Security Council resolution 242 (1967) was violated and distorted to the point of threatening to undermine the only commonly accepted basis for a realistic political solution. Even outdated General Assembly resolution 181 (II) - overtaken by events as recognized by Security Council resolution 242 (1967) - was deformed so as not to suggest a clear-cut recognition of a Jewish State in any part of the once British Mandate of Palestine. Cessation of terrorism would have facilitated the peace process*, yet terrorism inside Israel and the territories administered by it were specifically legitimized.

At Algiers, the PLO made demands and imposed conditions. Those unilateral acts and declarations of the PLO are meant to pre-deter mine the conditions and outcome of negotiations. Thus the PLO demands for an international conference clearly ignored efforts in recent years to construct an acceptable framework for negotiations: the kind of forum that the PLO envisages is something that Israel cannot accept.

The PLO is bound by the resolutions of the PNC. Speeches made from this or other podiums do not amend or modify those resolutions. On the one hand, the Algiers declarations are quoted verbatim and, on the other, certain clarifications or interpretations of their so-called meaning are simultaneously being voiced in this chamber. If all this is not sufficient to confuse the situation, we have also heard various statements made by senior PLO members in various parts of the world which are at variance both with the apparent meaning of the Algiers declarations and with the statements heard here.

Any recognition or legitimization of the PNC declarations can only serve to reinforce the illusion that the outcome of the desired negotiations can be prejudged by unilateral acts or declarations. Acceptance of the PNC conditions would turn back the chances of peace and not move them forward.

Israel's only political aspiration is to live in peace and security. Israel's founding document, its Declaration of Independence of May 1948, declared:

Today, as then, we continue our efforts to rekindle the peace process in our region. In striving to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement to the dispute, we have long considered the Palestinian and Jordanian context as the preferred next phase in that effort.

It is in that context that we once again call upon Arab leaders to break with the past, to promote a resolution of the Palestinian issue through negotiations, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), in an atmosphere of mutual respect for the rights of Israelis and Palestinians alike. It is in those negotiations that each of the parties will be free to present its ideas and proposals. Israel stands ready to conduct negotiations on this basis with Palestinian leaders from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as well as with others who renounce violence as a means to achieve their objectives and do not resort to it.

Israel strives for and encourages Palestinian moderation which would enable Palestinian leadership in the territories to conduct direct negotiations or arrangements that would terminate the violence and lay the foundations for a political process towards a solution of the Palestinian problem in all its aspects.

The participation of Jordan is essential. A stable peace on both sides of the Jordan River involves demographic, security and economic considerations that bind Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians residing there for the purpose of a negotiated political solution. Foundations do exist upon which peace can be built. Sound principles point the way.

Ten years ago Israel committed itself to a framework in which the Palestinian problem could have been solved in all its aspects, respecting the legitimate rights of all concerned. We should not forget that the supposed moderation that emerged from Algiers is the same so-called moderation that rejected the serious and substantive proposals incorporated into the Camp David accords. We remain committed to the basic premises of the Camp David accords, which provided that the permanent status of the territory would be determined by negotiations. We are ready for such negotiations.

The Camp David accords show that peace is possible, that negotiations lead to results and that agreements can be reached. In addressing the need to solve the conflict, Israel expessed its desire for a solution that will be mutually acceptable to Israel and its neighbouring partners, including the Palestinians. The final status of the territories will be determined not unilaterally but in negotiations. Israel has in the past spared no effort to foster and encourage trends of moderation. Israel has always been prepared to initiate and respond to genuine opportunities for peace with its neighbours.

United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) provide the basis for peace talks to settle the Arab-Israeli dispute. This is because 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) determine that peace will be reached by agreement and negotiations, and that every State in the region has the right "to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force". The careful formulation of those two resolutions has made them acceptable to Israel, the Arab States and the international community and has retained their relevance to conditions today.

Negotiations between Israel and its neigbours, with the assistance of those who can constructively help, are the only way to bring peace. They succeeded before in the United States-assisted talks between Egypt and Israel. They can succeed again by helping the parties to address each other's needs, concerns and interests. The international community can facilitate a mutually acceptable solution to difficult problems. Yet, for that to happen, those interested in ushering the parties to the negotiating table must recognize that the ultimate responsibility for dealing with each other and forging an accommodation rests with the negotiating parties themselves.

Violence and terror have set a barren course in the region for decades; misery and suffering have been the consequence. The path to peace will not be charted by the gun, the grenade, the rock and the firebonb. Violence and terrorism must cease.

Palestinian representation in the negotiations, in keeping with these aforementioned principles and without setting pre-conditions that would pre-determine the outcome of the talks, is essential? but attempts to dictate and impose terms, to use the weapon of terror instead of peaceful dialogue, is not. It will lead to nothing.

The time has come to stop exploiting and distorting the Palestinian issue in border to drum up hostility against Israel. The time has come to stop the campaign of vilification against the Jewish people, its national liberation movement. Zionism, and the State of Israel. The time has come for Arab Governments and the Palestinians to be ready and willing to engage in negotiations without pre-conditions. Within the framework of those negotiations the Palestinian issue can find its proper and agreed solution.

Mr. PETROVSKY (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (interpretation from Russian): The General Assembly has arrived at the shores of Lake Geneva in order to have an opportunity to discuss properly the question of Palestine with the participation of representatives of all the parties concerned.

As is well-known, the decision by the United Nations General Assembly to consider the problem of Palestine at the European Office of the United Nations was taken as a result of a serious incident that occurred in connection with the work of the forty-third session.

The General Assembly stated with authority and in a responsible fashion its negative attitude towards the action of the United States authorities, which had not allowed the leader of an organization having United Nations Permanent Observer status to come to New York. It is particularly regrettable that all this happened at a time when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had taken an important and constructive step towards facilitating the search for ways to resolve the Middle East problem with the participation of the United Nations Security Council.

The peace initiative, which was announced yesterday from this rostrum by the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, Mr. Yasser Arafat, opens a window of new opportunities to resolve the conflict that has for many years overshadowed the international situation. Having expressly stated its willingness to enter into negotiations with Israel in the framework of an international conference on the basis of resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), having expressed its desire to coexist with Israel in conditions of peace and security and having condemned terrorism in all its forms, the Palestine Liberation Organization has thereby reiterated that it is a serious and authoritative partner in peace talks.

It is now up to the other side to respond. We call upon everyone to take advantage this unique opportunity and, abandoning the stereotypes and prejudices, to accept the olive branch of peace that has been offered and to embark without delay on a path of international dialogue with a view to achieving a comprehensive and just settlement in the Middle East.

This is all the more important since the Palestine problem, the problem of the peace in the Middle East, is an organic, integral part of the foundation of peace and security on a truly comprehensive basis. Interdependence and the emerging integrity of the modern world underline its political indivisibility. The bell of the Middle East conflict, as of any regional conflict, tolls for all of us.

One of the most important tasks on the agenda of the international community is to disentangle the tight knot of contradictions and to defuse the explosive confrontation in the Middle East. The solution of that problem is in harmony with common efforts aimed at the transition of mankind to a qualitatively new and peaceful stage of its development.

The detailed conceptual account of those efforts was presented to the international community in the recent address delivered by the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev before the United Nations General Assembly. As the Soviet leader stressed, we have entered the era when the interests of all mankind will become the basis for world progress, when world policy will be determined by the priorities of universal human values. This is one of the major features that radically distinguishes the current stage of world development from those at the beginning or even in the middle of this century. The interdependence of the world allows us to take a fresh look at the problem of eliminating regional conflicts, including the conflict in the Middle East. Life itself makes us reject stereotyped ideas, old views and illusions.

The formula of development at the expense of others is on its way out. In the context of modern realities true progress cannot be achieved by infringing the rights and freedoms of any individual, or of any people for that matter. The practical application of the concept of freedom of choice is becoming a categorical imperative today. If not accepted, it is likely to be fraught with very grave consequences for any region and for world peace. It is particularly important to realize and agree once and for all that it is impossible to maintain reliable security and safeguard the future without respect for the views and positions of others, without tolerance and a willingness to perceive different views, not as something necessarily bad or hostile, or without the ability to learn to live together while remaining different from one another.

It is this very concept of free choice that is proving its effectiveness in different regions of the world which previously had been engulfed in the flames of war and had suffocated in the atmosphere of intransigence. In those circumstances it is all the more impossible any longer to accept the fact that the Palestinian problem and the cause of a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East remain outside the positive trends and the peace-making processes.

In welcoming the current discussion of the Palestinian question at the General Assembly we believe that the United Nations has a central and most important role to play in the process of internationalizing the dialogue on the entire set of Middle East problems. The gravity of the Palestinian problem and of the Middle East problem as a whole requires that the consideration of those problems at this session be fully consistent with the new way of political thinking and acting on the part of States, necessitated by the challenges of our time. In our view, the new situation in the world requires that the United Nations produce new decisions with fresh approaches. The task today is to help find a balance of interests and acceptable solutions, taking into account the interests of different States and parties to the conflict.

The Palestinian problem clearly highlights the gravity of the situation that emerged because of the fact that the Middle East remains a source of violence and bloodshed and a target area of unrestrained militarization. The recently intensified deliveries of ever more sophisticated weapons to that area, which are likely to destabilize the military, strategic and political situation there, make that situation even more explosive. The proliferation of chemical and missile weapons in the region is a matter of particular concern. There are legitimate fears over the fact teat the Middle East is approaching the nuclear threshold. All this jeopardizes the vital interests of peoples and States in the region and is fraught with grave consequences for international peace and security.

The absence of a settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict and its key problem -that of Palestine - underlies all those dangerous developments. The peaceful Palestinian uprising on the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip, which has been going on for more than a year now, is a convincing case in point. The uprising has starkly confronted the international community with the central issue, namely, that there can by no peace in the Middle East until the fundamental rights of peoples to determine their future and the rights of all States of the region to free development and security are guaranteed. There can be no peace as long as anyone attempts to hold the territories of others by force. Today we can state with satisfaction that the outline of a comprehensive plan for untangling the Middle Eastern knot of contradictions is emerging in the international community.

First, an international legal formula to achieve a settlement on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), guaranteeing the Palestinian people's right to self-determination, is taking shape.

Until recently the broad international consensus on these issues was not sufficiently supported by the development of positions of the parties directly involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In tit is connection we consider the decisions adopted at the latest session of the Palestine national Council in Algiers to be important and highly beneficial to the peace process in the Middle East. They represent a significant contribution to the creation of favourable conditions for the transition towards practical steps to settle the Middle East conflict.

The Soviet Union has positively assessed the results of the supreme Palestinian forum in Algiers, and it has supported the decision of the Palestine National Council to found a Palestinian State within the framework of a comprehensive Middle East settlement.

Next, there has emerged an understanding of the necessity of at long last setting in notion a mechanism for a comprehensive Middle East settlement. An international conference is the central link of such a mechanism.

Nowadays almost no one, with the exception of a part of the ruling circles of Israel, contests that the convening of an international conference is the only realistic and reliable way to accomplish a comprehensive and just settlement that will enable the Palestinian people to regain its homeland and the Israeli and Arab peoples to enjoy lasting peace and security.

Thus today there already exists a solid asset in the form of an international legal and political foundation for the setting in motion of a mechanism for a comprehensive settlement, a broad consensus in favour of the convening of an international conference and a serious desire among the immediate participants in the Arab-Israeli conflict to work for the achievement of mutually acceptable compromise solutions that take their interests into account.

All this makes it possible to resolve the key aspects of the settlement and to elaborate mutually acceptable agreements on specific ways and means of doing so. We have repeatedly proposed that the members of the Security Council without delay proceed to engage in consultations with a view to considering issues related to a Middle East settlement. We are prepared to respond positively to any constructive proposals on the parameters of such contacts.

In our view, in this regard a particular role could be played by contacts and consultations between the permanent members of the Security Council with the participation of the Secretary-General. There is no doubt that the consolidated authority of our Organization, its increased effectiveness and favourable conditions can serve as a forceful catalyst in the peace process, making possible a practical process leading to the convening of a conference.

We view the conference as a universal and flexible forum, which we believe would be the most effective and reliable machinery for defusing the Arab-Israeli conflict. It would require very varied forms of interaction among its participants, who could be all the parties to the conflict, including the Arab people of Palestine, whose sole and legitimate representative is the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as the five permanent members of the Security Council, whose role in the conference should in our view be to create a constructive atmosphere for negotiations. Their individual or collective proposals and recommendations) their contacts with the parties directly involved, should there be complications at any phase of the negotiating process> and the provision of guarantees and agreements could be crucial to the success of the work of the conference and tee implementation of its decisions. At the same time, the right to make final decisions as specific issues should of course remain with the parties directly involved.

The variety and importance of problems may require certain interim measures or a stage-by-stage approach to a comprehensive settlement) such measures and stages should be considered and carried out within the framework of the conference and closely co-ordinated with a comprehensive settlement.

In conclusion I would express confidence that the international community's will and the strengthening of the role of the United Nations as the central mechanism for the maintenance of peace and security and the settlement of conflicts will finally lead to the elimination of such a serious threat to international security as the Arab-Israeli conflict.

We are now at a turning-point. This can be a time of lost opportunities or a time heralding the beginning of a fundamentally new peaceful period in the evolution of mankind.

That is entirely true of the Middle East situation as well. We are convinced that we now have a unique opportunity to begin the journey towards peace in that region. It is important not to lose this opportunity. It is important that the uniqueness of the emerging world situation should immediately be realized and used in full measure too overcome old stereotypes and to move from rhetoric to calm, business-like and balanced work aimed at creating a just and lasting peace in the ancient land of the Middle East.



This record contains the original text of speeches delivered in English and interpretations of speeches in the other languages. The final text will be printed in the Official Records of the General Assembly.

Corrections should be submitted to original speeches only. They should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned, within one week, to the Chief, Official Records Editing Section, Department of Conference Services, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.

88-64613/A 9776V (E)

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