Question of Palestine home
Situation au Moyen-Orient/Conférence internationale de la paix sous la résolution A/RES/38/58 C - Rapport du Secrétaire général sous la résolution A/RES/42/66 D
31 March 1988
Items 37 and 40 of the preliminary list*
QUESTION OF PALESTINE
THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Report of the Secretary-General
1. The present report is submitted in accordance with General Assembly resolution 42/66 D of 2 December 1987 on the question of convening an international peace conference on the Middle East. The operative part of the resolution reads as follows:
The General Assembly
of the reports of the Secretary-General;
Notes with satisfaction
the ever-increasing international consensus in favour of the early convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, as reflected in the statements made during the debate;
Determines once again
that the question of Palestine is the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East;
Reaffirms once again
its endorsement of the call for convening the Conference in conformity with the provisions of resolution 38/58 C, particularly the guidelines and participation determined therein;
Reiterates its endorsement
of the call for setting up a preparatory committee, within the framework of the Security Council, with the participation of the permanent members of the Council, to take the necessary action to convene the Conference;
Stresses once again
the urgent need for additional concrete and constructive efforts by all Governments in order to convene the Conference without further delay;
the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Security Council, to continue his efforts with a view to convening the Conference and to report thereon to the General Assembly not later than 31 March 1988;
to consider at its forty-third session the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the present resolution."
2. On 10 March 1988, the Secretary-General, in pursuance of the request contained in paragraph 7 of the above resolution, addressed the following letter to the President of the Security Council:
"I have the honour to refer to resolution 42/66 D, which was adopted by the General Assembly on 2 December 1987, concerning the question of the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East in conformity with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 38/58 C. The text of the resolution 42/66 D is enclosed.
"As you are aware, this question was first raised at the General Assembly's thirty-eighth session, when resolution 38/58 C was adopted, and has since been the subject of annual resolutions by the Assembly and of annual reports by the Secretary-General, following consultation with the Security Council.
"Paragraph 7 of resolution 42/66 D requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Security Council, to continue his efforts with a view to convening the Conference and to report thereon to the General Assembly not later than 31 March 1988.
"My own consultations with the parties and with others concerned suggest that the obstacles that have so far prevented the convening of the International Peace Conference envisaged by resolution 38/58 C continue to exist. However, I again feel it essential to consult the Security Council, through its President, before preparing my report to the General Assembly. I should accordingly be grateful, Mr. President, if the views of the members of the Council on the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East in conformity with resolution 38/58 C could be conveyed to me by 25 March."
3. On 25 March the President of the Security Council sent the following reply:
"I have the honour to refer to your letter of 10 March 1988 concerning the question of the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East by which you sought to consult the Security Council on this question once again, taking into account the relevant provisions of General Assembly resolution 42/66 D of 2 December 1987.
"In accordance with your desire to be informed by 25 March of the views of the members of the Security Council on this question, I have undertaken the necessary consultations in this regard.
"The members of the Security Council are deeply concerned at the lack of substantive progress in the solution of the crisis in the Middle East, which is one of the most serious sources of instability in the world.
"The consultations that I carried out have shown that the members of the Security Council are convinced that the latest developments in the Middle East, particularly the situation in the occupied territories, call for urgent action to resolve the underlying problem through a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement, including a solution to the Palestinian problem in all its aspects.
"In this connection, all members of the Security Council are in agreement that it is desirable to convene an international conference on the Middle East.
"Almost all members of the Security Council declared their support for an early convening of a substantive international conference under the auspices of the United Nations, with participation of all parties concerned and of the five permanent members of the Security Council. They expressed readiness to make all efforts to help overcome remaining obstacles to the convening of such a conference.
"Most of those members reiterated their support for General Assembly resolution 38/58 C, in which it is,
stated that one of the main objectives of such a conference should be the attainment by the Palestinian people of its legitimate inalienable rights, including the right to return, the right to self-determination and the right to establish its own independent State in Palestine. They stressed that the Palestine Liberation Organization should have the status of a full-fledged participant in this conference.
"Some members, however, while expressing continuing reservations concerning resolution
C as a basis for an international conference, reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, with all that this implies, as well as the right to existence and to security of all States in the region, including Israel.
"One member of the Security Council was of the opinion that it is not possible to make progress nor to find a peaceful solution to the problem on the basis of resolution 38/58 C, which it regards as one-sided and unbalanced. That member pointed to a peace initiative currently under way that would involve an international conference convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. That conference would include permanent members of the Security Council, as well as Israel and its interested Arab neighbours. The member pointed out that such a conference should bring about prompt direct negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbours and should not have the right to veto the results of direct negotiations or to impose solutions.
"All but one member of the Council invite the Secretary-General to continue his efforts and consultations on the subject in connection with General Assembly resolution 42/66 D."
4. On 9 March the Secretary-General addressed a note verbale to the Permanent Representatives of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, and to the Permanent Observer of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The note drew attention to the report requested of the Secretary-General in General Assembly resolution 42/66 D and asked for an up-to-date statement concerning their respective positions on the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East in conformity with resolution 38/58 C. Their replies are reproduced below.
"The Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt ... with reference to the Secretary-General's note dated 9 March 1988 concerning the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, has the honour to inform him that the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt supports the implementation of resolutions 42/66 D and 38/58 C concerning the convening of such a conference and expresses the hope that the Secretary-General of the United Nations will continue to intensify his efforts towards the implementation of these two resolutions."
"In reference to the Secretary-General's note of 9 March 1988 regarding General Assembly resolution 42/66 D adopted on 2 December 1987, Israel voted against this resolution and those mentioned in the first preambular paragraph thereof.
"Israel has consistently objected to these General Assembly resolutions, as the International Conference proposed in resolution 38/58 C clearly contradicts the principle of direct negotiations between Israel and its neighbours and Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), which are not even mentioned therein.
"In this context, it is pointed out that Israel does not recognize the 'PLO' as a partner to peace negotiations, particularly in view of that organization's declared negation of the State of Israel.
"In addition, Israel objects to the proposal of a preparatory committee with the participation of the permanent members of the Security Council, which would have any authority to determine the agenda and procedure of negotiations between Israel and its neighbours and convene a conference that could impose solutions.
"The objection of Israel to the International Conference proposed in resolution 42/66 D and its preceding resolutions does not contradict Israel's desire to conduct direct negotiations with its neighbours within an international framework agreeable to the sides involved in those direct negotiations."
"The Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan . . . with reference to the note dated 9 March 1988 concerning the convening of the International Conference, has the honour to inform him that the position of the Jordanian Government on this matter is as follows:
"Jordan supports the convening of an international peace conference on the Middle East under the auspices of the United Nations, and at the invitation of the Secretary-General, with the participation of the five permanent members of the Security Council and the parties concerned, including the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"This Conference should be convened on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people."
"With reference to your note dated 9 March 1988 and further to my letter issued as an official document under symbol A/39/275-S/16584 of 25 May 1984, I have the honour to confirm below the official position of principle of the Lebanese Government concerning the convening of an international peace conference on the Middle East:
Lebanon approves the principle of convening the International Peace Conference on the Middle East to find a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the question of the Middle East, as called for in the relevant United Nations resolutions. Lebanon is prepared to participate in the above-mentioned Conference, as it informed you officially on 24 May 1984 (see above-mentioned document).
This does not mean that Lebanon approves the linking of the solution of its case to the solution of the question of the Middle East, because it believes that its case requires separate and urgent treatment in view of its persistence and its destructive impact on Lebanon's political, economic and social structure, as was stated in the address by Prime Minister Rashid Karami in the United Nations General Assembly on 5 October 1984.
Lebanon's consent to participate in the International Conference stems from the fact that it is a State concerned with the Arab-Israeli conflict and the fact that there are more than half a million Palestinian refugees in its territory, whose fate will be determined at the above-mentioned Conference, and from a desire to participate in the discussion of issues that it considers to be of direct or indirect concern to it.
In this regard, Lebanon confirms its rejection of the idea of settling the Palestinians in its territory. Its support for the right of peoples to self-determination calls, from the outset, for recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of its own State on its own land, as called for by the resolutions of the General Assembly on this subject.
Lebanon does not consider that a regional problem (a territorial problem with any State whatsoever) is open to discussion or negotiation. Its boundaries are fixed and internationally recognized, and it adheres firmly to its right to full sovereignty and independence.
"The question of Israeli occupation and the Israeli practices in the south should be dealt with from the angle of the implementation of the will of the international community as represented in Security Council resolutions 425 (1978), 508 (1982) and 509 (1982), which demanded that Israel withdraw fully and unconditionally from Lebanese territory, that the United Nations forces be enabled to discharge their mandate fully and be deployed to the internationally recognized boundaries, that international peace and security be established, and that assistance be rendered to the Government in exercising its right to extend its authority and sovereignty over its territory and consequently, transform the south into a region of peace and security.
Lebanon reaffirms its commitment to the 1949 armistice agreement, which is still in force, as confirmed in successive relevant resolutions of the Security Council (and which remains in force until such time as it is replaced by another text and a just, comprehensive and lasting solution is found to the Arab-Israeli conflict)."
Syrian Arab Republic
". . . I have the honour to transmit a reply to your note dated 9 March 1988 concerning the question of convening an international conference on the Middle East, as follows:
"The Syrian Arab Republic supported General Assembly resolution 38/58 C on the convening of an international conference, as indicated in its letter dated 20 August 1984 addressed to you and distributed in document A139/416-S/16708, and has supported General Assembly resolutions, the most recent being resolutions 42/66 D of 2 December 1987 and 42/209 A of 11 December 1987.
"The Syrian Arab Republic once again reaffirms the need to continue efforts in favour of convening the International Conference, with the participation of all the parties to the conflict, including the Palestine Liberation Organization and the permanent members of the Security Council, provided that the Conference is effective and has competence, and that it does not provide a cover for partial, piecemeal agreements, with a view to achieving a just and comprehensive peace based on the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and its resolutions relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and on the basis of:
Achievement of a complete Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories, including Jerusalem;
Guarantee of the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian Arab people, including the right to return to its homeland, the right to self-determination and the right to establish its own independent and sovereign State in its national territory."
Palestine Liberation Organization
"With reference to your note dated 9 March 1988 concerning the praiseworthy efforts to convene the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, I have the honour to communicate to you the position of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"Since the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly at its thirty-eighth session of resolution 38/58 C, the PLO has manifested its full readiness to participate effectively and constructively in efforts aimed at establishing a just peace in the Middle East based on international legality as reflected in United Nations resolutions.
"Since the adoption of that resolution by the General Assembly at its thirty-eighth session, the PLO has been in constant touch with the Secretariat and with the States that support the establishment of peace in the Middle East with a view to moving the political process towards the convening of the International Conference. Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and commander-in-chief of the forces of the Palestinian revolution, in international forums and on international occasions has repeatedly reaffirmed the PLO's support for and adherence to the resolution on the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East. The most recent occasion at which the support of the PLO for such a step was declared was at the United Nations Office at Geneva, at which Mr. Arafat spoke before the Commission on Human Rights on 19 February 1988.
"The PLO reaffirms that it seeks the convening of an effective international peace conference on the Middle East under United Nations auspices and with the participation of the five permanent members of the Security Council and all the Parties concerned, including the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, on an equal footing with the other parties, with a view to the realization of the national rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to return, the right to self-determination and the right to establish its own independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital.
"In the view of the PLO, international legality provides a sound political basis for such a conference: in other words, United Nations resolutions on the question of Palestine as an indivisible whole, comprising resolutions of the General Assembly and of the Security Council, including Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 605 (1987).
"In the context of the discussions concerning the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, we should draw attention to what is taking place in the occupied Palestinian territories and to the position that the PLO requested that the United Nations adopt, namely, the protection of our people by the United Nations from the campaigns of savage repression unleashed by the Israeli occupation forces against them in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. We also wish to point out that the PLO requested that, in the light of what is happening and of the crimes being perpetrated against our people, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem be placed under the aegis of the United Nations for a short transitional period and that the Israeli forces be withdrawn from all occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, including Arab Jerusalem (we refer here to Security Council resolution 605 (1987)), until our people are enabled, during that period and under United Nations supervision, to achieve self-determination. These two steps are essential for the protection of our people, so as to create a suitable climate for the International Conference, which will lay the foundations for a just and lasting peace in the region, in accordance with international legality and the resolutions of the United Nations."
5. It is again clear from the communications set out above that sufficient agreement does not exist, either amongst the parties directly concerned or within the Security Council, to permit the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East as called for in resolution 42/66 D. Meanwhile, the recent and continuing events in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have dramatically highlighted the urgent need for the negotiation, in a manner acceptable to all the parties directly concerned, of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Secretary-General's views about the basis of such a settlement and about how it should be negotiated remain those expressed in the closing paragraphs of the report he submitted to the Security Council on 21 January 1988
in accordance with Security Council resolution 605 (1987).
/ A/42/277-S/18849 and A/42/714-S/19249.