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        General Assembly
7 October 1996

General Assembly
Official Records
Fifty-first Session
24th plenary meeting
Monday, 7 October 1996, 10 a.m.
New York

President: Mr. Razali Ismail ..............................................(Malaysia)

The meeting was called to order at 10 a.m.

Agenda item 9 (continued)

General debate

The President: The first speaker is the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Communities of Cape Verde, His Excellency Mr. Amilcar Spencer Lopes, on whom I now call.

Mr. Lopes (Cape Verde) (spoke in Portuguese; English text furnished by the delegation): ...


In this same context, we cannot remain indifferent to the recent events in the Middle East. They show clearly that there is no alternative to the peace process and that dialogue, tolerance and common sense must prevail over force, violence and intolerance, failing which the region could well be plunged anew into chaos and destruction, thus delaying once again the hope of its peoples to live in peace and security.


The President: The next speaker is the Secretary of State for Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino, His Excellency Mr. Gabriele Gatti.

Mr. Gatti (San Marino) (spoke in Italian; English text furnished by the delegation): ...


Given its geographical location in Europe, San Marino is particularly attentive to the evolution of the peace process in the Mediterranean area, especially in the Middle East, where the earlier general enthusiasm has been overshadowed by disenchantment and frequent difficulties. Fortunately, hope, however weak and volatile, is still alive. The Middle East still needs the international community's commitment and encouragement to proceed to a peaceful settlement of long-standing and more recent disputes that are the cause of division and uncertainty.


The Acting President: I now call on the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, His Excellency Mr. Khaled Madadha.

Mr. Madadha (Jordan) (interpretation from Arabic): ...


Before I move on to another international issue, I would like to congratulate the United Nations on opening the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty for signature. My country is proud to have been among the first countries to sponsor the draft resolution under which this Treaty was adopted and to have signed it. We hope that steps towards nuclear disarmament will continue and will encompass the Middle East region. We hope that negotiations will begin for the conclusion of a treaty in the very near future banning the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear and otherwise, so that a nuclear-weapon-free zone may be established in the Middle East.

The peoples of our region have suffered the agonies of devastating wars over the past five decades, wars which have caused the deaths of tens of thousands, destroyed basic infrastructures and brought the people of our countries bloodshed, pain, deprivation, poverty and instability. Due to the allocation of resources to the war machine and the terrible arms race, their economies have gone into recession.

Signs of hope, however, emerged for these people five years ago with the Madrid Peace Conference in October 1991 and the subsequent bilateral and multilateral negotiations between Arabs and Israelis. Palestinian hopes were revived with the 1993 Oslo agreement. The Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements that followed restored happiness and hope to millions of Palestinians, who saw in that agreement the beginning of the end of their pain, bloodshed and destroyed economy. They were newly optimistic about securing their right to self-determination within their own State, rebuilding their national economy, industry and infrastructure, which had been destroyed by wars, and the onset of peaceful trade relations with their neighbours in Jordan, Israel and other countries of the region. Hope was also rekindled by the peace treaty concluded between Jordan and Israel in October 1994 and the resulting bilateral agreements on the establishment of diplomatic and economic relations, bilateral and regional cooperation, the reconstruction of the region and the establishment of strong trade and economic relations between the two countries, to the benefit of their peoples and other peoples in the region, opening the way to comprehensive regional cooperation.

Concrete progress was also made on the Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli peace tracks. There were prospects for a Syrian-Israeli agreement based on the "land-for-peace" principle, providing for full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan in return for a peace agreement ending the state of war and paving the way for peaceful relations based on strong foundations of understanding and normal, peaceful coexistence.

Current events and negative factors and measures in the occupied Arab territories - a return to the settlement-building policy; the violation of the sanctity of the holy places; the closure of the territories; the denial of work opportunities; the refusal to implement the agreements signed on the Palestinian-Israeli track; the postponement and impediment of self-government negotiations; the unilateral determination of the status of Jerusalem and of the self-government negotiations; the refusal to resume negotiations, suspended seven months ago, with Syria and Lebanon; and the refusal to return to the terms of reference and framework of the Madrid Peace Conference - have given rise to frustration among the peoples of the region, who are beginning to lose the rekindled hope to which I have referred.

Despite the excessively negative slogans against peace used by the new Israeli Government during the electoral campaign, we in Jordan - the King, the leadership and the people - welcomed the new Administration and the newly-elected Prime Minister out of respect for the free will of the Israeli people and non-interference in their internal affairs. We called for the continuation of the comprehensive peace process in the region and pledged to utilize the peace treaty with Israel to establish such a comprehensive peace. We urged our neighbours, Syria and Lebanon, to deal with the new realities and the new Israeli Government positively and realistically. Our motto and position at the Arab Summit Conference held at Cairo last June was a call to extend more time and opportunity to the new Israeli Government to return to the peace process on the bases agreed upon at the Madrid Peace Conference: the "land-for-peace" formula and the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978).

All the participants in the Madrid Peace Conference had believed that the success achieved on the Palestinian-Israeli track and the Jordanian-Israeli track had opened to the peoples of the region, including the Israeli people, the door to a new life and a better future based on the principles of justice, peace for all, peaceful relations and trade. They had also believed that this success proved once again how misguided and wrong are obsolete principles such as that of achieving security through force and thus through the imposition of forced solutions. It also debunked the principle of occupying other people's land by force to ensure one's own security. Indeed, it has become clear that security can be ensured only through dialogue, peaceful coexistence, negotiations, mutual respect among peoples and free economic and trade relations, rather than through power politics and the imposition of forced solutions. Yet once again we are hearing certain nervous calls to revive the obsolete theory of security and the imposition of solutions by force.

Amid the gloom that has begun to enshroud the peace process, there is still a ray of hope. It is up to us, both Arabs and Israelis, to keep it shining with a view to securing a better future for our children and our grandchildren. For if, God forbid, we allowed this hope to become lost, a renewed cycle of violence, instability, tension, terrorism and extremism would prevail in the region, as shown by the recent bloody violence.

At the Cairo summit, all Arab Governments expressed for the first time their collective support and blessings for the peace process and proclaimed that peace is an irreversible strategic option. We have heard similar pledges from the new Israeli Government. It is our sincere hope that the United States and Russian co-sponsors of the peace process will intervene, and that international efforts will be made to put the peace process back on track, restore its previous vigour and impetus and put an end to all the obstacles that might impede or disrupt it.

The war and destruction in the region and the peace process that followed it have been described as a series of missed opportunities; for in the past all of us have missed invaluable opportunities for peace. Now here we are again, about to return to that insane policy. By challenging the opponents of peace, President Arafat and the Palestinian leadership have demonstrated a serious and unambiguous desire to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting peace. It is not wise to reward him by embarrassing him before the Palestinian people and placing him in an unenviable situation vis-à-vis the opponents of peace, who are betting on the failure of his policies and the failure of the peace process.

Nor is it prudent to stipulate that Syria and Lebanon must return to the negotiating table without preconditions, as though the Madrid Conference and the painstaking and tough negotiations that followed had never taken place. Does this condition itself not constitute a precondition for the peace process? We all declared our intention to nurture the magnificent baby born at the Madrid Conference, whom we named "the peace process". But then, we disagreed on the method to be followed in the baby's upbringing. Let us return to working together, so as not to kill the baby in its cradle and along with it our peoples' chances for the better life which shone on the horizon after decades of death and destruction.

One of the most important factors for the credibility of the Middle East peace process is the improvement in the living conditions of the population through increased investment which has resulted in lowering the high unemployment rate. We in Jordan have taken numerous measures, enacted legislation and concluded agreements with a view to protecting and promoting investment. I regret that despite these reassuring measures and guarantees and the convening of two international economic summit conferences - in Casablanca in 1994 and in Amman in 1995 - the real outcome in terms of investment in the region has been disappointing. Apart from the increase in tourism that we noticed following the signing of the peace treaty, foreign industrial investment remains very low notwithstanding the many profitable projects put forward at the recent Amman economic conference.

While private foreign companies may have an excuse for reluctance to invest, because of fears related to the regime's history and political situation, the Governments of developed industrial countries have no excuse for their failure to provide their insurance companies with sufficient guarantees against investment risks to encourage companies to increase their investments. This is particularly true since the increased profitability of these companies' investment projects and the resulting higher incomes in the recipient developing countries would benefit the economies of the developed industrial countries as well. In this regard, we have high hopes for the successful conclusion of the fourth economic summit, to be held in Cairo next November. This will provide another opportunity for foreign investors to contribute to the region's development and to the consolidation of peace - quite apart from the benefits they and the economies of countries are bound to reap.

One of the region's biggest and most complex problems is that of Palestinian refugees; its settlement has been deferred to the final status negotiations. It is regrettable that the international community has not yet given this important political and humanitarian problem the attention, understanding and assistance it deserves. Every year we receive the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, in which he describes the Agency's budget deficit and the consequent need to reduce the level of services provided to the refugees.

We urge the wealthy industrial States to give this matter their fullest attention and to increase their contribution in order to ensure the survival of this temporary solution to the major humanitarian problems that affect over 3.5 million Palestinian refugees, including some 1.5 million who live in Jordan. The Government of Jordan, despite its limited resources, is compelled to provide assistance and relief worth approximately $300 million annually. It is necessary to provide support for the Agency's budget to enable it to continue its work effectively, pending a final solution of the refugee problem on the basis of United Nations resolutions providing for their repatriation or compensation. As long as it remains without a substantive and effective solution, this problem will continue to constitute a time bomb - forgive me for using this term to indicate the magnitude of this problem - for the peace process, in view of its significant humanitarian and political dimensions.


The Acting President: I now call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Attorney General of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Her Excellency The Honourable Janet G. Bostwick, M.P.

Ms. Bostwick (Bahamas): ...


A review of current events reveals new threats to the fragile peace process in the Middle East. The Bahamas urges the parties concerned to make every possible effort to restore order, to refrain from acts of violence and to reactivate the peace process, which enjoyed the widespread support of the international community. We commend President Clinton for his initiative in inviting Middle East leaders to Washington for discussion aimed at defusing this volatile situation and thus, hopefully, restoring confidence in the peace process.


The Acting President: The next speaker is the Minister for External Relations of Sudan, Mr. Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, on whom I now call.

Mr. Taha (Sudan) (interpretation from Arabic): ...


As for the Middle East, Sudan believes that peace should be built on the principles of justice and respect for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the Arab peoples in the region, and that peace must also be based on the commitments agreed to by the parties concerned. Any retreat from agreed obligations and commitments contradicts a real desire to achieve peace.


The meeting rose at 12.55 p.m.

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