Question of Palestine home
Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
1 December 1991
OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT
AND THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
Issue 8 - November 1991
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii
Remarks by the United Nations Secretary-General on the peace process,
United Nations Headquarters, 5 November 1991 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Excerpts from the PLO Chairman's address concerning the
and the Middle East Peace Conference, 9 November 1991. . . . . . . . . . 1
Excerpts from an interview with Foreign Minister of Egypt
Amre M. Moussa, Cairo, 14 November 1991. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Excerpts from a statement by Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir,
Tel Aviv, 24 November 1991 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Text of announcement by the Israeli Government regarding the
Washington round of negotiations, Tel Aviv, 27 November 1991 . . . . . . 6
Excerpts from an interview with King Hussein of Jordan,
Amman, 29 November 1991. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Notes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
New York, December 1991
- ii -
In April 1991, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People requested that the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat prepare urgently and update regularly, for the use of the Committee members and observers, a compilation of relevant recent statements, declarations and proposals regarding the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the question of Palestine and the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East. The first issue of the compilation, prepared in response to the decision of the Committee, appeared the same month.
Note should be made that reproduced herein are only those parts of the statements, declarations, proposals and initiatives, quoted or summarized, which relate to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the question of Palestine.
Remarks by the United Nations Secretary-General on the peace process
United Nations Headquarters, 5 November 1991
On 5 November 1991, in an interview with Canal Plus television of Spain at the United Nations Headquarters, the United Nations Secretary-General said,
, the following on the question of the Middle East Peace Conference and the United Nations role in the peace process:
"Madrid has proved that dialogue is possible.
"On the other hand, Arab States should change their systematic anti-Israel rhetoric which obviously creates in Israel an atmosphere of mistrust regarding Arab countries' will to recognize Israel...
"I naturally think the presence of the United Nations is indispensable since the framework for the negotiations is [provided by] three very important UN resolutions."
Excerpts from the PLO Chairman's address concerning the intifadah
and the Middle East Peace Conference, 9 November 1991
On 9 November 1991, Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), delivered a statement to commemorate the forty-eighth month of the
.* In his address, Mr. Arafat stated,
"Four years of heroic confrontation and obstinate steadfastness have passed; four years of great, unlimited sacrifices; fours years of restructuring our society, introducing the spirit and values of the valiant
; four years of a unique revolutionary experience serving as a beacon for the nations of the world and a model emulated by those aspiring for freedom.
"And now, after many years of revolution and long and tough struggle, we are firming up our promise on the political, historical, and geographic map of this world. And after four years of the escalating
, we have started to reap the fruits. And after our long patience and faithful resilience, we have begun the harvest season. Here is the
, the culmination of our people's jihad throughout this century, recording a decisive and historic achievement for our cause.
"Yes, my brothers, and my beloved ones. When, a few days ago, our Palestinian delegation sat at the negotiating table in Madrid to speak in the name of the people of Palestine, that meant rectifying history, and abolishing decades of the deliberate exclusion of our voice and its independence. It also meant entrenching the presence and existence of a people that have roots, heritage, and rights, a people with a presence pulsating with resistance and steadfastness, and a future dedicated to freedom and independence.
"That meant a historic reply, a historic reply refuting the dictum that was announced by the Zionists at the Basel Congress in 1897 that Palestine was a land without a people for a people without a land. When the voice of our people resounded in Madrid through their delegation, which enjoys their trust and that of their leadership--the PLO--the world listened to the voice of more than 6 million Palestinians in the homeland, in the exiles, and in the diaspora and also listened to the epic of the bitter suffering, the firm steadfastness, the brave resistance, and the just struggle. Our participation in the Middle East Peace Conference, which was called by Presidents Gorbachev and Bush and which was approved by our institution and legislative frameworks, came as a result of a sound understanding and an accurate assessment of the changes in our world and as a result of the desire and commitment for protecting the higher national interests of our people as well as the higher pan-Arab interests.
"Participation in this way, as well as the distinguished performance, have destroyed the restrictions, the conditions, and the proposals which they tried to impose on that participation, both in form and substance. We have imposed the brilliant presence of our people's cause from our own point of view and on the basis of our legitimate rights and our firm demands, thereby cancelling attempts to exclude us, dwarf us, and belittle us and proving our people's unity wherever they are as well as their commitment to their leadership, framework, and institutions. We have also aborted attempts at division, sharing, and fragmentation, be they plots to exclude Jerusalem and the holy shrines, divide the people inside and outside the occupied territories, or attempts to deal with Palestine separately and apart from the Arabs.
"The Madrid days have been Arab-Palestinian days, during which our people's just cause was imposed on the conscience of the entire world. Those days culminated decades of jihad, struggle, and steadfastness, and entrenched the changes the
has effected on world public opinion. Thus, the world found itself before two contradictory examples and two conflicting positions. On the one hand, our message was that of truth, freedom, justice, and peace; it was the message of a steadfast people waging jihad in their revolution and
, demanding peace, while adhering to their inalienable national rights and to their right to defend their Islamic and Christian holy places and their children and land. It was the message of a people capable of seizing the historic moment and asserting the conformity of their objectives with the slogans of a new era in the world's history. It was a message of people wrenching for the first time in this century their legitimate right to be directly, clearly, and even distinctly present in a forum devoted to discussing their destiny, rights, cause, land and holy places.
"Yes, our people in Madrid presented their true and worthy image. Their genuine cry attracted the world's comprehensive sympathy, support, and understanding. On the other hand, the speech of the occupiers reflected the dreams and hatred of racial superiority and the arrogance of imported force. It emerged from the heart of mythology and the illusions of expansion, alien to the spirit of the age and defying human values and international legitimacy. In Madrid, Israel presented its real, ugly, and dangerous image and showed the dimensions of its ambitions and goals and the dangers they pose to our Palestinian and Arab territories and to our Palestinian people and our Arab nation. In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. O ye who believe! Take your precautions, and either go forth in parties or go forth all together. [Koranic verse]
"Sisters and brothers, the Madrid Conference has confirmed the existence of our people on the world's political map, and consecrated our presence in the new world order. However, this new order will not be constructed at the expense of our nation and our people, as happened before, thanks to the Sykes-Picot and Yalta agreements. All this was reinforced by the good performance of our brothers, members of the Arab delegations, and also of the joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation, not to mention the splendid work of our Palestinian delegation, as well as the excellent performance of its members, who held the banner of our people and homeland, defended our cause and rights, and confirmed the cohesion and unity of our masses everywhere. Similarly, they affirmed their allegiance to their national movement--the PLO--leader of their struggle, guardian of their history and heritage, and forger of the future of our generations. They were excellent peers in all respects. Thus, they have earned the greetings, appreciation, and salute of our people. In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. When thou threwest a handful of dust, it was not thy act, but God's: In order that He might test the believers by a gracious trial from Himself: For God is He who heareth and knoweth all things. That, and also because God is He who makes feeble the plans and stratagems of the unbelievers. [Koranic verses]
"Brothers and beloved ones: Throughout the past two weeks, you have taken to the streets of cities, villages and camps in our occupied homeland in sweeping marches and demonstrations, holding the banner of the PLO, and the banner of adherence to the resolutions of our Palestine National Council and our Central Council. By so doing, you have asserted your firm adherence to our demands for freedom and national independence. By this sweeping surge of mass action, you provided our delegation in Madrid with unequaled support and backing. Thus, the picture has become complete before the world, affirming the unity of our people and their rallying around their leadership, around their objectives, and around rights. Our decision to take part in the Peace Conference was made in accordance with a democratic process conducted by our institutions and establishments. We are strongly keen to confirm the right to voice differing opinions, and affirm respect for dissenting views on the basis of maintaining objectivity, keenly safeguarding national unity, and that there should be no recourse, in word or deed, to defamation or intellectual terrorism."
*As broadcast by
Voice of Palestine
. Place and date not given.
Excerpts from an interview with Foreign Minister of Egypt Amre M. Moussa
Cairo, 14 November 1991
In an interview with a correspondent of
, which appeared in the issue of 14 November 1991, Mr. Amre M. Moussa, Foreign Minister of Egypt, commented on the Middle East Peace Conference and the peace process:
"The Madrid Conference was not a bad start to the peace process. In our capacity as a State participating in the process of promoting a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East, we have achieved a good result in the presence of all parties, especially the Palestinian, Syrian, and Israeli parties. That means that all the parties concerned were at the Conference, including Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Europe, in addition to the Conference sponsors, the United States and the Soviet Union. That is what gave the Conference great importance as a springboard for the peace process. Another factor that contributed to the success of the Conference was that each party was given an equal chance to submit and explain its position and views and its own concept of the Conference objectives. You must have noticed that the Palestinian delegation was given the same time as the other delegations. That was a significant achievement.
"After the Conference's first session, bilateral talks began with the direct participation of all the parties concerned. That opened the door to negotiations. We have not yet started discussion of the details of the peace process. The talks in Madrid focused on the presentation of the main positions of all parties. Then talks in the bilateral committees dealt with procedural matters, the mechanism and continuation of the meetings. At any rate, I assess what happened as an important addition to the peace process.
"... The continued building of settlements disturbs the peace process. That is why it was condemned by Egypt when announced by Israel. I believe that the continued building of settlements throughout the occupied territories, Syrian or Palestinian, is a very serious matter because it runs contrary to peace intentions and to the peace process itself.
"There can be no gratis peace given as a gift to Israel or the Arabs. There must be mutual commitments. As you have seen in Madrid, the Egyptian position is this: There is no need to play with words. If some use the argument of peace in return for peace, then we would take the matter to its origin and say rights in return for rights, commitment for commitment, and security for security. In other words, it must be a balanced settlement that would give the Arabs their rights and Israel its rights in accordance with resolution 242.
"On the Arab side, of course, there are no differences over the interpretation of that resolution. The Israeli side says that it does not mean 'land for peace', or that it means part of the territory at the expense of the rest of it. That is not the accepted interpretation. I believe that what the Israelis are saying is part of their negotiating posture, an initial position. The Government of a country that is a UN Member and is recognized by many States cannot reject the international documented interpretation of resolution 242 stipulating that Israel withdraw from the territories it occupied by military force in 1967 on the Jordanian, Syrian, and Egyptian fronts. Therefore, there should be withdrawal from the occupied territories and negotiations on security arrangements relating to them. Withdrawal will be part of the negotiations on the basis of the 'land for peace' principle. The issue of withdrawal must be the first item of the talks agenda.
"In his speech the Israeli Prime Minister only said that he did not favour concentrating on that point, but he did not rule out the principle. We believe that there should be concentration on the issue of territory and withdrawal from the occupied territories. In other words, it is not an absolute Israeli refusal but rather a rearrangement of priorities and the initiation of negotiations from angles different from those desired by the Arab sides. Still, I believe it will be easy to resolve this matter in the early sessions and rounds of the negotiations.
"I believe that Israel has now joined the peace process and that the international community will not allow it or anyone else not to be serious about it, because the loss would be massive for the party which subverts the process. That is because this is an important opportunity, perhaps the last opportunity for settling this conflict. Now the world, the sponsoring and participating States, the parties concerned, and observers all believe that the time has come for a settlement and that there is no other choice; otherwise, the Middle East would enter an era of great anarchy that would be in nobody's interest. That is why I believe that all parties will try to achieve a settlement, each party from its own angle. What is important at present is to arrive at a common ground that would make possible effective, reasonable and sensible negotiations, without ruling out some hard-line positions at the start because we must not forget that this is a negotiating process. We will have to deal with numerous negotiating positions and ease them down so as to push the wheel forward and complete the process as soon as possible."
Excerpts from a statement by Prime Minister of Israel Itzhak Shamir
Tel Aviv, 24 November 1991
On 24 November 1991, at Ben-Gurion Airport, upon his return to Tel Aviv from the United States, Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir said,
"I was invited to meet with President Bush and Secretary of State Baker in Washington during my stay in the United States. Both meetings dealt at length with the peace process, and we concentrated on the next stage--that is, the continuation of bilateral negotiations between Israel and each of its neighbours.
"The US Administration informed us that since the sides did not reach an agreement on the venue for the talks, it intends to invite everybody to talks in Washington. In my talks with the President and the Secretary of State, I explained our position that if there is a change in the Arab approach to direct negotiations with us, the first expression of that must be a readiness to conduct negotiations in our countries, in the region itself. Our neighbours, however, refuse to talk directly to us, even on the technical issue of the venue for the talks; instead, they appeal to the United States. That behaviour does not show a readiness to conduct direct, genuine, free negotiations.
"We tried to make direct contact with the Arab representatives, but nothing came of it. There were those who accepted our proposals and then recanted.
"Washington itself does not suit us because of the distance and because it is not logistically feasible to hold the necessary tight contacts between the leaders of the negotiating teams and the decision-makers, so that the former can receive guidance from the political echelon, which of course is vital on such sensitive issues touching on Israel's life and death.
"We were always told by the United States that it does not want to dictate to the sides, politically or even technically, about anything linked to the negotiations. They only want to be mediators, so-called honest brokers, and are only interested in the sides reaching an arrangement between themselves--a mutually agreed upon settlement.
"In the meantime, it appears that the intention of the Arab side, to our regret, is not to negotiate with us, but to talk with the US Administration so that the United States will impose on us the Arab positions, which are unacceptable to us. I expressed my opinion that we do not view that approach as a suitable or decent way of conducting honourable negotiations or as an efficient way to further the peace process. We asked our interlocutors in the Administration, including the President, to reconsider the issue of the venue for the direct talks and to continue consultations with us until we reach an agreement acceptable to the sides. We did not insist on any proposal. We made various proposals that in our view could be acceptable to all, and I still hope that we will hear in the coming days about an arrangement that might also satisfy us. We are prepared to start immediately the substantial negotiations on each issue from our viewpoint. We are ready."
Text of announcement by the Israeli Government regarding the
Washington round of negotiations, Tel Aviv, 27 November 1991
On 27 November 1991, at Tel Aviv, the following official announcement on the Israeli Government's decision concerning the venue for direct negotiations was made by Mr. Ehud Gol, Media Adviser to the Prime Minister:
"Israel is interested in continuing the peace process as soon as possible through direct negotiations between the sides. It should be pointed out that we view Washington as a hospitable city and as the capital of a friendly country. We have, however, explained repeatedly and at all levels, that for the negotiations to be effective they must be held in the region, for a number of reasons. We have reason to believe that the Arabs are not interested in talking to us or conducting direct negotiations with us, but in talking to the United States and trying to use it to apply pressure.
"The Arabs aspire to a framework that would be a continuation of the Madrid Conference; that is, to be as close as possible to an international conference, or as far as possible from the framework of direct negotiations, free of involvement by other elements. The proposal to hold the three meetings simultaneously in Washington will gather all the Arab delegations in one place. Experience has shown that in such a situation the lowest common denominator decreases, extremism takes over, and the chances for real negotiations become minimal. We are talking about negotiations conducted simultaneously with three Arab parties and a negotiating framework of supreme importance, which relates to the security and future of the State of Israel. It is, therefore, vital that the negotiations be conducted close to the decision-making political echelon in Israel, to permit close supervision, frequent consultations, and ongoing guidance to the negotiators.
"In view of the above, and taking into account the US invitation, and out of respect for it, Israel is prepared to hold one or two meetings in Washington so that afterward the negotiations will be conducted in the region and close to it. Israel also suggests holding the meetings in stages with periods of four to five days between one set of negotiations and the next, with the first group meeting on 9 December 1991. Israel hopes that the negotiations will be resumed at the earliest possible time and that the Arab side will conduct direct negotiations with us as agreed upon. That is the surest way to make progress and reach the sought after peace."
Excerpts from an interview with King Hussein of Jordan
Amman, 29 November 1991
On 29 November 1991, at Amman, in an interview with a London-based MBC Television reporter, King Hussein said the following regarding the current state of the peace process:
"... Madrid, I believe, provided an opportunity to the brothers and sons of Palestine--especially the kinsfolk in the occupied territories, who represent the vanguard regarding their clinging to territory, rights, soil, and their long-standing heroic endurance--to appear before the world in an appropriate manner, which they had been denied for a long time, and to communicate, through the Madrid Conference, with every household and individual and conscience, as a people who strive to save their rights on their territory and national soil. I believe that their performance was excellent. We previously paved the way for the process by providing an umbrella for a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation, when no other options were available in this respect. Cooperation, thank God, was and still is, good. Washington is a continuation of the activity o f the Conference regarding the bilateral talks--the Palestinian-Israeli and Arab-Israeli talks at this stage, so that work would continue in accordance with the well-known bases embodied in Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, given that the invitation was originally addressed on the basis of these two resolutions, in addition to international legitimacy. I greatly hope that we will move ahead under the difficult, hard circumstances. Our weapon is our rights. As for peace, we have asked for it, and are still doing so, especially since 1967. I personally contributed to drafting resolution 242, although it has not been applied so far. Also, there is the multilateral conference, in which many influential countries, it seems, will take part. We hope that in addition to Arab participation, there will be room for discussing what the situation would be like in case the rights are established and restored to their rightful owners and peace is established in the region, considering all the positive aspects that could result. At a time when the Washington conference might address only what is originally proposed in the invitation on the Palestinian and Israeli level regarding territory and claims on territory within stages and a well-known framework, I believe that the other conference, and all these conferences, will end up with one result: our success in achieving a just and honourable peace that future generations can accept. The multilateral conference could give us an opportunity to discuss the issue in a broader fashion, particularly in relation to Palestinians and their rights, also given the well-known fact they do not only reside in the occupied territories."
* * *
dispatch from Madrid, dated 5 November 1991.
2. Foreign Broadcast Information Service,
Daily Report: Near East and South Asia
, No. FBIS-NES-91-221, 15 November 1991, p. 2-4.
., No. FBIS-NES-91-222, 18 November 1991, pp. 7-8.
., No. FBIS-NES-91-227, 25 November 1991, pp. 25-26.
., No. FBIS-NES-91-230, 29 November 1991, p. 17.
., No. FBIS-NES-91-232, 3 December 1991, p. 29.