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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/9021
1 December 1995

PEACE IN REGION DEPENDS ON ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM LEBANON,
SYRIA, ASSEMBLY TOLD, AS DEBATE CONTINUES ON MIDDLE EAST


Reaffirming his country's commitment to the Middle East peace process in a statement before the General Assembly this afternoon, the representative of Lebanon said peace depended on Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon and Syria.

The representative of Qatar said history had recalled the pain and suffering of Lebanon, and expressed admiration for Lebanon's efforts at reconstruction. It was hoped that Lebanon would regain its stature as a beacon of light and great cultural society which was an example of tolerance, love and prosperity.

The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union had welcomed the resumption of negotiations between Israel and Syria last June and called on them and Lebanon to reach agreement in their respective bilateral negotiations. Economic and social progress were critical to the success of the peace process, he added.

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The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 4 December to take action on the three draft resolutions on the situation in the Middle East and to take up two additional agenda items: appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences and implementation of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s.


Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this afternoon to act on recommendations of its General Committee concerning South Africa's unpaid assessments. It was also scheduled to allocate additional agenda items, as well as to continue consideration of the situation in the Middle East.

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Concerning the situation in the Middle East, the Assembly had before it three draft resolutions and a report of the Secretary-General. By the terms of a draft resolution on assistance to parties in the region (document A/50/L.24), the General Assembly would call upon Member States to extend economic, financial and technical assistance to parties in the region and to render support for the peace process. By the terms of a draft resolution on Jerusalem (document A/50/L.37) the Assembly would determine that the decision of Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem was illegal and therefore null and void and without validity. By the terms of a draft resolution on the Syrian Golan (document A/50/L.38) the Assembly would demand once more that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 in implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
The report of the Secretary-General (document A/50/574) reproduces replies from Austria, Cape Verde, Japan and Mexico regarding the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem in violation of Security Council resolution 478 (1980) as well as regarding the Assembly's renewed demand (resolution 49/87 B) that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan. (For more information, see Press Release GA/9020, issued today, 1 December.)


Introduction of Draft Resolution

ABDERAHMAN S. ABDERAHMAN (Egypt) introduced the draft resolution demanding Israel's withdrawal from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967, in implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Lebanon joined in co-sponsoring the resolution.

NITYA PIBULSONGGRAM (Thailand) paid tribute to the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It was hoped that Mr. Rabin's martyrdom would inspire all sides to redouble their efforts for peace.

A number of positive developments had taken place since the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government, he said. Admittedly, the situation in the Gaza Strip under Palestinian self-rule remained fragile. The international community must work together with the Palestinian Authority to ensure sustained development in the occupied territories. That was the only way to secure improvements in living standards.

He said that the North African and Middle East Economic Summit recently held in Amman provided evidence of Israel and Jordan's efforts to enhance regional peace. Thailand welcomed the normalization of relations between Jordan and Israel. Reconciliation between Israel and Syria was of paramount importance. More dialogue was required to safeguard the gains which had already been made. Durable peace could only be achieved when all sides worked together through diplomatic and peaceful means.

SHUNJI MARUYAMA (Japan) said his country welcomed the agreement reached in September of this year between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on the expansion of the Palestinian interim self-Government authority. It looked forward to progress in Israel's talks with Syria and Lebanon.

Referring to the assassination of Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, he said, both sides had progressed too far on the path to conciliation for a peaceful solution of the Palestine question to be thwarted by such acts of terrorism. Recognizing the importance of the peace dividend, Japan pledged $200 million in assistance to the Palestinians in September 1993. It had disbursed $150 million of that assistance so far.

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SAMIR MOUBARAK (Lebanon) reaffirmed Lebanon's commitment to the peace process. Great benefits would derive for the region if the peace was based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978). Peace depended on Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon and Syria. For 17 years it had refused to adhere to resolution 425 (1978) by ending its occupation of southern Lebanon. Enforcement of the resolution would also reaffirm the sovereignty of Lebanon. Israel should also fully withdraw from the Syrian Golan.

The invasion of Lebanon had not supplied Israel with the security it had sought. Security Council meetings should be held as needed to consider Israel's attacks. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had played an important role and its personnel should be maintained. Lebanon refused any attempt to make Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon permanent residents. The extension of Israel's jurisdiction to El-Quds Al-Sharif was null and void, as were decisions to transfer embassies there. He urged the United States administration to maintain its declared position on that matter.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had little meaning for the Middle East so long as Israel refused to join. He reaffirmed Lebanon's wish to see the draft resolution on the Middle East adopted unanimously, however it failed to mention resolution 425 (1978). Multilateral negotiations for peace should not precede bilateral negotiations between the parties involved in the peace process. The talks held so far were premature and would not bear fruit.

JUAN ANTONIO YANEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) (on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Cyprus, Slovak Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Romania) said the despicable act of the assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin must not be allowed to disturb the dynamics of dialogue between the parties. The agreement signed between Israel and the PLO in September of this year had already produced its first visible result with the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from Jenin and their substitution by the autonomous Palestinian Police. The European Union hoped that the parties to the peace process would continue to work in a constructive spirit.

He said the European Union had welcomed the resumption of negotiations between Israel and Syria last June and would like to call on them and Lebanon to restore momentum for the respective bilateral negotiations and reach agreement on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Political negotiations ought to be accompanied by economic and social progress for the peace process to be successfully completed, he said. He stressed the importance of the private sector in the economic development of the region.

ALYAKSEI SKRYPKO (Belarus) said the implementation of all agreements was of critical importance. The parties must make every effort to meet their responsibilities so that the timetable for elections would be held next January as planned. "We can say without exaggeration that this moment in the history of the peace process is a test for the future of the region." The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had called attention to the need to combat terrorism and violence, which constituted the main obstacle to peace. It was critical to strengthen confidence-building measures. Cooperation in such areas as the environment, culture, tourism and education would foster qualitative changes in the political dialogue. It was necessary to strengthen links among people at all levels.

He went on to say that the United Nations must continue to support the efforts of the Palestinian people to improve their lives. All relevant agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), must continue to make every effort to assist the Palestinians in their respective spheres of competence. Belarus was convinced that peace in the Middle East would be lasting only if all States concerned were involved. Bilateral negotiations between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon were of critical importance.

CELSO L.N. AMORIM (Brazil) said he fully supported the continuation of the Israel-Palestine negotiations. He hoped that Israel and Jordan would continue to cooperate in a constructive fashion and that similar progress could be attained in the Israeli-Syrian track of the peace process. He stressed his serious concern with regard to the situation in Lebanon and reaffirmed Brazil's commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of that country, within its internationally recognized borders. He reaffirmed Brazil's full support for the continuing participation of the United Nations in the multilateral negotiations between the Israeli and Arab parties, and said the support of the international community was of paramount importance to maintaining the momentum of the peace process.

KAREL KOVANDA (Czech Republic) said given the history of events, the marvel was that the peace process had survived, not that it had failed to meet all of its deadlines. While old conflicts would not simply dissolve in economic prosperity, without positive economic and social effects, peace would hardly take root. The regional economic summit held recently had been a positive step in that direction. For its part, the Czech Republic was participating in the multilateral working group on water resources, and it had contributed to the UNRWA.

The recent agreements reached between Israel and the PLO and Israel and Jordan were welcome, he said, expressing the hope that bilateral negotiations on other fronts would produce tangible results. The peace process should eventually lead to the full restoration of Lebanon's sovereignty over all of its land.

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RICHARD BUTLER (Australia) urged Israel, Syria and Lebanon to redouble their efforts to achieve a peace settlement based on the widely accepted principle of land for peace. Australia continued to oppose any activity by outside forces that compromised Lebanon's sovereignty. The Arab economic boycott of Israel had no place as a negotiating point in the peace process, and it constrained the economic development of the region. Australia continued to support the Security Council's action on Iraq, including the investigation and monitoring of Iraqi weapons programmes. It urged the Government of Iraq to cooperate with the Security Council in implementing those resolutions which would allow it to resume limited oil exports so that the hardships that were evident among the civilian population could be addressed.

KEBA BIRANE CISSE (Senegal) said the tragic assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had only served to strengthen the impetus for peace. The road ahead was long, but the signing of additional agreements recently confirmed the intentions of the parties to continue to work for peace. The question of Palestine was at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict and it must be resolved based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). The international community must give increased support to all in the region who had chosen the difficult road of peace, giving them hope for a better tomorrow. The new climate which had emerged from the peace process had begun to show positive effects, and it was hoped that progress would be achieved on the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese tracks.

HASSAN ALI HUSSAIN AL-NI'MAH (Qatar) said the question of the Middle East had been the subject of extensive international efforts. The region's history had been fraught with momentous events that had mobilized feelings only to evolve into matters of concern. The Middle East struggled with its destiny, remaining upright and patient with infinite hopes and visions. Those dreams were linked to the United Nations Charter, which was a document promising peace and dialogue among all cultures and civilizations.

"When our Middle East hailed the Madrid Conference we saw in it a door that augurs a new dawn in the history of our region, putting an end to the suffering of Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian peoples afflicted with Israeli occupation", he said. It had been hoped that international efforts since then would lead to the establishment of an independent state on the Palestinian homeland. Subsequent agreements had renewed hopes that the peace process would arrive at its safe haven so that a just and lasting peace could be achieved on the basis of mutual respect and fruitful cooperation. The dawn of the new era in such an important region of the world had placed great responsibilities on the parties in the important transitional phase in the peace process. "Our hopes are great and our expectations are even greater", he said.

Full withdrawal from the occupied territories and the renunciation of hegemony were critical, he said. History had recalled the pain and suffering of Lebanon, a country which had contributed to mankind its alphabet, its grapes and its olive oil. Qatar admired Lebanon's efforts at reconstruction, hoping that it would regain its stature as a beacon of light and great cultural society which was an example of tolerance, love and prosperity. The United States must bring its praiseworthy efforts to a fruitful conclusion. Concerted international efforts were required to halt the arms race in the region. All countries must be held to the same standards of disarmament. The resolutions must be adopted without a vote.

ANATOLI M. ZLENKO (Ukraine) said a just, lasting and comprehensive solution of the question of Palestine must be based on the attainment of mutual compromise among all the parties to the conflict and implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions as well as the provisions of the bilateral agreements. Special attention should be paid to the great danger posed by radical elements in the Arab countries and in Israel. He hoped that the people of Israel would not allow the terrible tragedy of Rabin's assassination to discourage them and that they would remain committed to the peace process. The United Nations should maintain its responsibility towards finding a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine and towards creating an atmosphere conducive to the eradication of the hostility and mistrust which was still dividing the region.

MAKHDOOM SYED ASAD HAYAT SHAH (Pakistan) said to achieve a durable and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, it was vital that successful results be simultaneously achieved on the Lebanese and Syrian tracks. The United Nations and its specialized agencies could make an invaluable contribution in extending assistance to the Palestinian people. They had a special responsibility to help build the socio-economic infrastructure and national institutions that were a prerequisite for the attainment of peace and prosperity in the Middle East.

The United Nations had recognized the right to self-determination of the people of Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir, he continued. Although encouraging developments had taken place towards the resolution of the question of Palestine, the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir had yet to be exercised through a fair and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations.

PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said the peace accord between Israel and Jordan had been implemented and supported by an increase in bilateral cooperation. He welcomed Israel's pursuit of regional peace and hoped the leaders of the region -- Prime Minister Peres of Israel, King Hussein of Jordan and Chairman Arafat of the PLO -- would strive towards constructive solutions and peace between their peoples. He also welcomed the recent positive signs in the relationship between Israel and Syria.

He said economic well-being was a precondition of peace. The recent regional economic summit had been instrumental in enhancing cooperation. One of the most important initiatives would be the establishment of the bank for economic cooperation and development in the Middle East and North Africa, to be headquartered in Cairo. The Republic of Korea had decided to join the bank as a founding member with an initial investment of $62.5 million. It had also contributed to regional development projects. Despite its distance from the region, the Republic of Korea bore a special interest in the Middle East peace process as a country which itself had experienced the scourge of war and which suffered from the division of the Korean peninsula.

AHMED SNOUSSI (Morocco) said the international community must act so that the peace process permitted the Palestinian people to acquire all their legitimate rights, in particular the right to self-determination and the right to create an independent State having Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. It was clear that the recent actions of certain countries regarding the transfer of their embassies to Al-Quds Al-Sharif did not conform to the Security Council resolution on the subject and were not going to help advance the peace process. Respect for international law was also an essential condition in the Syria-Israel and Lebanon-Israel negotiations. In particular, he hoped for a process that would result in the return of the Syrian Golan and respect for the territorial integrity of Lebanon.

True peace in the region, he continued, must be mutually advantageous to all the peoples of the region who all certainly aspired to and deserved a better life. In this context, he appealed to the international community to support the Palestinian National Authority in its worthy economic, social and cultural efforts. And he said the economic summit conferences in Casablanca and Amman had been important steps towards the establishment of peace based on trade, cooperation and economic partnership.

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