Question of Palestine home
24 September 1986
PROVISIONAL VERBATIM RECORD OF THE SIXTH MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Tuesday, 23 September 1986, at 10 a.m.
Mr. BIN ABDULLAH
- Address by Mr. Eric Arturo Delvalle, President of the Republic of Panama
- General debate  (
Statements were made by
Mr. Mabrouk (Tunisia)
Mr. Shevardnadze (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)
Sir Geoffrey Howe (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
Mr. Vayrynen (Finland)
The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m
AGENDA ITEM 9 (
(Tunisia) (interpretation from Arabic): ... Arms developments are the result of international tensions throughout the world. Any agreement on limitation, banning and reducing military potential, whatever the size of the force involved, must be the result of considerations that go beyond weapons themselves and take account of the whole range of international factors.
Foremost among these factors is the right of peoples to self-determination. More than 40 years after the San Francisco Charter was signed, peoples in the Middle East, Africa and Asia still suffer under the colonial yoke or once again find themselves deprived of their freedom. We are not the only ones to be shocked at this and to condemn it. The major Powers themselves say that they are dismayed. All of them are distressed at violations of the Charter involving injustice when it strikes the centres of their own interests.
In promoting negotiations between the super-Powers and other Powers, it is surely time now that these problems of freedom and dignity for millions of men and, women should be regarded as fundamental problems and that the super-Powers should agree on treating them as such. In other words, they should agree to remove those considerations that have no raison d'être except their mutual antagonism at the world level. As we see it, the relaxation of tension that is sought does, to a large extent, depend on their just solution in keeping with the inalienable rights of peoples to self-determination.
Secondly, world peace is seriously threatened by the interplay of regional conflicts and acts of destabilization. Of course, most of the time, these acts involve local regimes that use violence as their preferred instrument for promoting their hegemonistic aspirations and have recourse to the use of force and aggression to carry out their dark designs, scorning the principles and rules of law governing the international order.
Yet, it seems to us that the super-Powers are not entirely free of responsibility. The sorry plight of innocent people in Africa, the Middle East and Asia reduced to a tragic existence of death and devastation should not leave
them indifferent. Neither should the cruel dilemma in which many countries find themselves obliged to buy weapons at exorbitant prices, to the detriment of their economies and the social well-being of their peoples. Yet, thanks to their influence deriving from their power and the responsibility they assumed on the world level, the major countries are able to change the diabolical course of events, so that hotbeds are extinguished and negotiations can replace armed confrontation. That is how the super-Powers could increasingly introduce the best remedy to eliminate the scourge of terrorism - individual terrorism and State terrorism - which is also gradually making use of evermore sophisticated weaponry.
As everyone knows, one kind of terrorism is but an extension of acts of violence caused by the obstinate refusal to recognize legitimate and inalienable rights of peoples subjected to foreign domination. Having said that, we are in no way trying to justify or excuse terrorism as a loathsome practice; but we feel that , one should not neglect one important element in our understanding, one which truth and the reality of the situation make it incumbent upon us to recall. For terrorism is also an extension of acts of violence committed by those who obstinately refuse to accept this aspiration to freedom; and it is also an extension of acts of violence committed by belligerent countries in the vain hope of exercising some pressure or indeed achieving victory.
There is no need for me to emphasize our extremely strong condemnation of terrorism, which, as tragic recent events have unfortunately reminded us, strikes innocent children, women and the elderly. They are innocent victims of conflicts with which they have absolutely nothing to do.
Tunisia, an Arab country by reason of its unalterable identity, an African country because of its roots and the way it has taken root, a Mediterranean country through its universal aspirations, is indeed well placed to give expression to some truths relating to the concerns we share in these very perilous times.
In the Mediterranean, to begin with, the situation is indeed a threatening one. The Mediterranean has traditionally been described as the lake of peace, and this is the unanimous desire of all the coastal States. It is also the cradle of civilizations that have given mankind so many things to be proud of. Yet, in this area we are witnessing a re-emergence of armed conflicts, open and covert terrorism, things that make this area a favoured area for confrontations, increasingly serious in scope and with incalculable implications. Overlying disputes relating to offended nationalism is an East-West antagonism which maintains hotbeds of tension and jeopardizes any possibility of peace. And so, in the final analysis, the goals of the local antagonists are submerged in these greater stakes that go beyond them.
The problem of the Middle East, the problem of Palestine, which is undergoing torture, is often subjected to the effects of this East-West antagonism.
This problem is at the crux of all the crises in the Arab world, crises that could lead to tragic upheavals affecting society in countries far away from the region. But this does not seem to influence Israel at all; it is still, blindly, obstinately, considering force and alliances as the exclusive grounds for its
right to drive a people from its lands. How else could one explain that in response to all the proposals made by the Arab side, particularly the Fez plan, in response to all the terms accepted by the Palestinian side, the Israeli side responds with a categorical refusal to engage in any discussion on the basis of a fair and lasting compromise, one that would involve a return of the occupied land, thus ensuring a safe and secure existence for all States in the region?
This formula, which is repeated in all international forums, must one day prevail through the understanding of those who realize they cannot let this tragedy go on developing until it threatens the whole world. In these circumstances and in connection with this tragedy, we must recall the moving words of wisdom and sincerity spoken by President Bourguiba in 1965 in Jericho, when he called for this solution, which is feasible and good for our Palestinian brothers, a solution based on strict international legality, namely the decision of the United Nations.
The only thing that can support Israel's refusal is obviously force, military superiority, which enables it to hold to its inflexible position and engage in an armed conflict in which it thinks it will be victorious. But there can be a change in the balance. Force will not necessarily always be a prerogative of just one area and one party. It is military force that enables Israel to invade any country at all in the area, such as Lebanon, under the pretext of guaranteeing its own security, and then to continue occupying the area as long as it feels it is necessary.
So for more than four years there has been a new dimension to the problem of the Middle East. This is a new imbroglio that brings increased tragedy, death, fear and anguish, far away from the frontiers of Lebanon.
We are analysing this tragedy without using euphemisms. Sometimes we may sound a little severe, but I think it is quite clear that we have no hatred at all towards Jews living in any part of the world whatsoever, because Jews are our brothers through their origin, and in Tunisia they are our brothers because we have the same national identity. They have the right to regard themselves as full citizens, to live as such and to flourish as such. They are even entitled to respect for their fervent devotion to our common national identity.
Our people, and Bourguiba in particular, believe in tolerance and human fraternity. This is well enough known for me not to have to dwell on it here. It is because we refuse to let a racially inspired danger erupt elsewhere in the world that we are pleading for peaceful and reasonable solutions. This is why we want to see some influence from the super-Powers and from the major Powers, in support of restoring the total sovereignty of the Palestinian people with a guarantee for all States in the region to enjoy peace.
Do people believe that the East-West dialogue can take place while this part of the world is still in flames? And Europe, an integral part of the Mediterranean basin, should surely respond more vigorously in order to restore a just and lasting peace, inspired by that spirit of justice and by the moral values that are the very basis of European democracy.
Moreover, this is the only real way in which it can escape from the cycle of violence to which it is being subjected, and the cost in human life and money is beginning to weigh on it. Moreover, would this not be the most effective way of combating terrorism, and then building this economic and culturally complementary whole, this union between the developed European north and the Arab-African south, which is still developing but which has such tremendous potential?
Sir Geoffrey HOWE
(United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland): ... Few parts of the world have suffered more than the Middle East from the ancient feuds and modern factions of Churchill's phrase. Our approach is the same: to counsel dialogue and co-operation. There are no military answers to the conflict in the Middle East or in North Africa.
A just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute can be achieved only through negotiation. We take encouragement from the agreement between Egypt and Israel over Taba. We have made our own views known on many occasion, and we stand by them. An international conference could make a major contribution if the gap between the parties could be narrowed and if they could agree on the principle and nature of such a conference.
All parties should clearly and unambiguously accept two principles: the right to existence and security of all States in the area, including Israel, and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and all that implies. We appeal to the parties concerned - the Arab States, Israel and the Palestinian people - to open the door to peace by recognizing each other's rights.
The Twelve are working individually and collectively to help development in the occupied territories. We call on Israel, pending its withdrawal in accordance with Security Council resolution 242 (1967), scrupulously to fulfill its obligations as the occupying Power and to ease restrictions on political activity and economic development. But such measures must be a prelude to, not a substitute for, true peace negotiations.
The United Nations is doing vital work in the effort to preserve Lebanon's sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity. We deplore recent incidents which have put new obstacles in the way of the mission of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). We extend our sympathies to the victims. We wish to underline the urgency and importance of taking measures to enable the Force to carry out its mission safely and effectively. The latest events have demonstrated how intolerable the present situation has become.
(Finland): ... Just and lasting peace in the Middle East can be achieved only if Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), together with guarantees of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, form the basis of the settlement. The possibility of convening an international conference for the purpose of reaching a comprehensive settlement of the conflict, with the participation of all the parties concerned, including the Palestinians and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), should be thoroughly examined.
The United Nations and its peace-keeping operations play a vital role in creating favourable conditions for a political situation. These operations have proved a useful instrument of crisis management. During the current year the United Nations peace-keeping Force in Lebanon has carried out its duties under constant and growing danger. It operates in a deteriorating situation created by the inability of the parties involved to reach agreement on security arrangements in the area and to come to an understanding of the role of the Force in southern Lebanon. However unsatisfactory the present state of affairs may be, Finland continues to believe in the role of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). We are grateful to the Secretary-General and his staff for their unrelenting efforts to redress the situation.
The meeting rose at 1.25 p.m