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


GA/9323
3 October 1997

JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF CONFIDENCE-BUILDING TO ACHIEVE SECURITY IN MIDDLE EAST

Assembly Also Hears Foreign Ministers of Madagascar, Maldives,
Solomon Islands, Guinea, Yemen, Republic of Congo

Confidence-building and peacemaking were the best way to achieve individual and regional security in the Middle East, the Jordanian Foreign Minister, Fayez Tarawneh, told the General Assembly this afternoon, as it continued its general debate. He called on Israel to do everything possible to build and consolidate confidence with the people of the region, particularly the Palestinians.

He said Israel must abandon its settlement policy and the creation of new faits accomplis on Palestinian territory, including attempts to change the demographic structure and the religious and historical character of the occupied territories and Jerusalem. Nuclear weapons were a threat to regional peace and to confidence-building, and Israel should therefore abandon the production and development of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. Jordan had decided to adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention because it believed such weapons would not establish security and stability, he added.

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Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its general debate. The Foreign Ministers of Madagascar, Jordan, Maldives, Guinea, Yemen and the Congo and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Solomon Islands were scheduled to speak.

Statements

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FAYEZ TARAWNEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, said if the security problem was a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East, confidence- building and peacemaking were the best means to achieve individual and regional security. He called upon Israel to do everything possible to build and consolidate confidence with the people of the region in general, and the Palestinians in particular. Israel must abandon the settlement policy and the policy of creating new faits accomplis on Palestinian territory, including attempts to change the demographic structure and the religious and historical character of the occupied territories and Jerusalem.

In order to build confidence with the people and governments of the region, he called upon Israel to abandon the production and development of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. Since the presence of nuclear weapons was a major obstacle to peace, the problem should be removed. The Middle East should be a nuclear-weapon-free zone. In that context, Jordan had taken the decision to adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention, prompted by the belief that such weapons would not establish security and stability.

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Refugees in the Middle East presented one of the most intricate problems facing the region, he continued. The financial crisis that gripped the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had been escalating and had forced the Agency to undertake austerity measures. Since the inception of the refugee tragedy five decades ago, Jordan had borne the heaviest burden of all host countries. There were 1.5 million refugees in Jordan, with 20 per cent in refugee camps serviced by UNRWA and the others scattered throughout cities and villages. Jordan spent $340 million annually in caring for the refugees, in addition to a new $240 million initiative to develop infrastructure in refugee camps and disadvantaged areas.

Improving the living standard of Palestinian refugees did not diminish their political right to return and to compensation, he said. He called on the international community to continue the services provided by UNRWA until a lasting, just and comprehensive solution to the question was reached. In line with Assembly and Security Council resolutions, which called for the facilitation of the return of displaced persons, donor countries should increase their contributions to an extent commensurate with the natural increase in the number of refugees.

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ABDULKARIM AL-ERYANY, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Yemen, ...

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He cited the displacement and arrest of Palestinians, the occupation of their territories, the establishment of settlements, the confiscation of their properties and the violation of their basic human rights in the Arab-Israeli conflict. That constituted a breach of the principles of the Charter and a defiance of resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the General Assembly. The optimism that followed the Oslo Agreement, the Jordanian- Israeli peace agreement and progress in the talks on the Syrian track had been extinguished by the Israeli Government, which had sent the whole region back to square one.

The peace process should be completed as stipulated in the Madrid Conference, various Security Council resolutions and subsequent agreements, and in accordance with the principle of "land for peace", he said. That principle would ensure complete Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian occupied territories, establishment by the Palestinian people of its own independent State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, the return of Palestinian refugees, the release of prisoners, the dismantling of settlements built by Israeli occupation authorities and full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Golan and occupied southern Lebanon. Israel should respect the sovereignty of Lebanon and should release Lebanese prisoners and detainees in Israeli camps, and should compensate Lebanon for all the damages caused by the Israeli aggressions against its peoples and lands.

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