Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter

Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
1 November 2005




Division for Palestinian Rights


DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO THE MIDDLE EAST
PEACE PROCESS


Issue 14 January - April 1998



Contents


Page
European Commission communication on the role of the European Union in the Middle East peace process (Executive summary)
Brussels, 16 January 1998
1
Statement by the Presidency of the European Union on the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank
London, 4 February 1998
4
Joint statement by Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu
Tel Aviv, 10 March 1998
5
Statement by United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Martin Indyk
before the Subcommittee on Near East and South Asia Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Excerpts)
Washington, D.C., 11 March 1998
7
Address by Secretary-General Kofi Annan before the Palestinian Council
Gaza City, 23 March 1998
9
Address by Secretary-General Kofi Annan before the Israeli Foreign Relations Council
and the United Nations Association of Israel
Jerusalem, 25 March 1998
12
Resolution on the Palestine refugee situation by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 23 April 1998
17
Remarks by the United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the “Seeds of Peace” anniversary dinner (Excerpts)
New York, 26 April 1998
19
Notes
21






NOTE

Since April 1991, at the request of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat has prepared a compilation of statements, declarations, documents and other material regarding the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the question of Palestine and the Middle East peace process, entitled "Approaches towards the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the question of Palestine".

In January 1994, the bulletin was renamed "Developments related to the Middle East peace process". It includes information material related to the bilateral Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, the multilateral negotiations on Middle East regional issues and other aspects of the Middle East peace process.

This issue covers the period from January to April 1998.





<


This bulletin and its back issues can be found in the Lotus Notes-based
United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) at:

212-963-7197 (server: DPA4)

or

on the Internet at:

www.un.org/Depts/dpa/qpal/


*


Printed copies of this publication, and back issues, can be obtained from:

United Nations Secretariat
Division for Palestinian Rights
Room S-3362
New York, New York 10017
Tel: 212-963-5159
Fax: 212-963-4199






European Commission communication on the role of the European Union
in the Middle East peace process
Brussels, 16 January 1998

On 16 January 1998, in Brussels, the European Commission approved a communication to the Council of Ministers of the European Union and to the European Parliament on the role of the European Union in the Middle East peace process:

The role of the European Union in the Middle East peace process and its future assistance

The European Commission has just approved a communication to the Council of Ministers and to the European Parliament on the role of the European Union (EU) in the Middle East peace process. The aim of the document is to provide elements for a thorough debate within the EU on the present situation in the Middle East and the impact of the EU political and economic strategy for the region. The communication, therefore, provides an analysis of (i) the present situation of the Middle East peace process, (ii) the EU political and financial support to it, (iii) the interface with the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, (iv) the results of the EU economic assistance to the Palestinians, (v) the successes and shortcomings of the international aid effort and, in its final part, (vi) the complementary role of the EU alongside the leading role of the US in the process.

Executive summary of the Communication

The Middle East peace process that was launched at the 1991 Madrid Conference raised great hopes of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

The Madrid Conference did not produce immediate progress. Nevertheless, it succeeded in triggering the mutual recognition and establishment of direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO (Oslo channel). This led in turn to unprecedented regional progress towards peace, including the signature of a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority as an interim stage pending the conclusion of a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty by May 1999.

The EU reacted to this historic opportunity by making available the largest international programme of economic assistance to the peace process: ECU 1,680 million for the period 1993-1997 (see page 1 of the annex). In parallel, the EU maintained its supportive complementary political role.

However, the political climate has changed during the last year and a half moving from unprecedented hopes for and steps towards a comprehensive negotiated solution to a general climate of regional instability and impatience and alarm among the international community. The reality is that the peace process is in a state of persistent deadlock. The European Commission's viewpoint is that there is no possibility to make real and credible progress in the peace process without full implementation of all commitments freely accepted by the parties.

This continuous lack of political progress has begun contaminating other international initiatives aiming at stability and prosperity in the region (i.e. MENA, the Middle East and North Africa Economic Forum). Despite the heavy investment in material and economic resources made available by the EU and the international community at large, it has become clear that regional cooperation and integration cannot make any headway unless there is real progress towards a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Doha Conference has been the latest and most glaring symbol of the paralysis of all multilateral cooperation, with the big waste of financial and political efforts that it entails.

Most importantly for the EU, the crisis threatens the Barcelona process. Despite the fact that this forum for policy dialogue between the EU and its Mediterranean partners, launched in Barcelona in November 1995, has been the only forum where all regional actors have worked together over the last two years, it is clear that there is a growing contamination by the political crisis in the peace process of the activities emanating from the Barcelona partnership and of the accompanying measures of the Euro-Med Association Agreements.

As to the success and shortcomings of the international aid effort, the document explains that the international aid was to trigger sufficient private sector investment flows into the region, thereby truly improving the economic standards of the peoples in the region, notably the Palestinians. The EU massive programme of economic assistance seems to have failed to achieve its original goals. In fact, the opposite has happened: all Palestinian economic indicators point to a clear deterioration of living conditions. To mention just a few:

- Palestinian per capita GNP has fallen by over 35 per cent;

- losses due to closures have amounted to up to 7.4 per cent of GDP per year;

- unemployment has doubled, from 20 to over 42 per cent;

- private investment has plummeted to one fourth of what it was in 1993;

- yearly trade losses of up to almost US$ 300 million;

- delays in the implementation of donor-financed projects.

All this reflects that, in the economic sphere, the efforts made since the Washington donors' conference in 1993 have failed; this has caused widespread international donor fatigue.

Nevertheless, the unprecedented effort by the international community, and in particular by the European Union, has not been in vain; it has yielded some valuable achievements.

On the one hand, it has been instrumental in keeping the peace process alive. It has helped in the establishment of a Palestinian institutional capacity that allows the Palestinian Authority to carry out its basic functions in a satisfactory way. On the other hand, it has substantially upgraded the Palestinian physical and social infrastructure. Furthermore, aid has prevented standards of living from going into a free fall due to very unfavourable economic conditions.

In short, the international donor effort has ensured the survival of the peace process. It has also created the conditions that may allow the Palestinian economy to bounce back once obstacles for growth are removed.

In its final part, the Commission communication concludes that without the support of an important political and economic contribution, the continuation of the peace process, even in its present difficult state, would not have been possible. The economic goals sought in 1993 have not been reached. In the face of this grave situation, the European Commission, in charge of the EU programme of economic assistance, believes that it is necessary to look for ways to continue the present financial assistance programme, which expires in 1998. However, while the Commission can make proposals in order to improve the situation, real advancement will only be possible if a number of conditions are met:

The communication ends with a reference to the complementary role of the EU alongside the leading role of the US in the process. The document explains that the EU has accepted a role which is diplomatically and politically complementary to that of the US. This is an arrangement which has worked imperfectly so far and which can be improved to boost the effect of international community efforts to put the peace process back on track.

The Commission feels that if the EU is to continue to be the basic economic foundation of the peace process, then what has happened until now should be taken into account. The role that the EU has played so far should lead to the conclusion that the way in which the complementary efforts of the two allies are to be organized should be reviewed and then put to the consideration of the US, the Palestinians, the Israelis and the international community.

In submitting these proposals, the Commission does not understand them in any way as a challenge to the role of the US. The present determining role of the US, rooted in the past, will continue in the future.

Therefore, while the EU should continue to support the crucial political role of the US, the complementarity that has guided the EU role so far should be changed in two main ways:

- The EU has so far played a constructive role. This role would be much improved if the parties and the US acknowledged the need for the EU, both at ministerial level and through its Special Envoy, to participate alongside the US in all forums set up to assist bilateral negotiations between the parties.

- The EU has contributed over half of the financial resources for the peace process. Because of this, it has more experience, wider links and a considerable political capital. It understands that if the international assistance effort is to be renewed, it must be redefined. It is clear that the basic shareholder should be the key coordinator. Therefore, the international economic effort should be coordinated by the European Union on the basis of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee model: Palestinians, Israelis, the Bretton Woods institutions, the United Nations and the active participation of key donors.

- Being by far the first donor, the EU (Presidency and Commission) should play a substantially enhanced role in the coordination of international assistance, according to a formula to be negotiated with other donors.1



Statement by the Presidency of the European Union on the
expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank
London, 4 February 1998

On 4 February 1998, in London, the following statement was made by Mr. Derek Fatchett, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, on the issue of the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank:


Expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank: statement by Mr. Fatchett

(Presidency press release of Thursday, 4 February 1998)

I am disturbed to hear reports that the Israeli Interior Ministry has given final approval for the construction of 132 housing units for Jewish residents in the Ras Al-Amoud area of East Jerusalem. This development is particularly unhelpful at a time when the US and the international community are intensifying their efforts to achieve a breakthrough in the peace process.

I understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu's office has said that the Israeli Government will not allow this construction. We look to the Israeli Government to prevent it from going ahead.

The EU position on settlement building in the Occupied Territories is clear. It is both illegal under international law and damaging to the peace process. At the General Affairs Council on 26 January, European leaders reiterated their view that, if we are to make progress in the negotiations, both sides must avoid unilateral actions which pre-empt final status talks, in particular on settlements and Jerusalem.2



Joint statement by Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu
Tel Aviv, 10 March 1998

The following joint statement was issued, on 10 March 1998, in Tel Aviv, by Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

10 March 1998

Joint statement of the Crown Prince of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,
Prince El Hassan Bin Talal and the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyuahu

The Crown Prince of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Prince El Hassan Bin Talal, met in Tel Aviv, Israel, with the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, on Tuesday, 10 March 1998.

The Crown Prince and the Prime Minister discussed a wide range of bilateral and regional issues and noted with satisfaction the continuation of their dialogue, as well as the one taking place between the two States. They emphasized the need for continued constructive dialogue on matters of mutual concern, in order to build and strengthen peace bilaterally and regionally.

The two leaders emphasized the need to reinvigorate the peace process in all bilateral tracks and multilateral working groups. They underlined the need to achieve tangible progress by implementing agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinians, and to set the stage for a lasting and just peace between them. They also commended the historic role played by the United States in this regard.

The Crown Prince and the Prime Minister agreed that comprehensive peace requires the resumption of multilateral negotiations in all five working groups, as well as the Steering Committee. They also expressed their wish to see the building of regional institutions which have been agreed upon. They paid special attention to the MENA economic conferences and to the Barcelona Process. In this regard, they expressed appreciation for the European Barcelona initiative and their desire for concrete and constructive results at the next meeting in Palermo, Italy, in June 1998. The two sides reiterated the need to attain equal progress in the three baskets of the Barcelona Process, i.e. the political and security basket; the economic and financial basket; and the social, cultural and human basket.

The Crown Prince and the Prime Minister noted with satisfaction the results of the visits to Jordan of Israel's Ministers of National Infrastructure, Mr. Ariel Sharon, and of Industry and Trade, Mr. Natan Sharansky, on 8 and 9 March 1998, respectively.

The following understandings were reached during those two visits:

A. Water and infrastructure

1. Both sides agreed to expand cooperation and mutual assistance for better utilization of water resources, including the improvement of storage facilities, in accordance with the Peace Treaty.

2. Recognizing the importance of cooperation in the field of energy, the two sides agreed to the following:

3. Convinced of the importance of local, regional and international tourism, the two parties agreed to explore the possibilities of joint development of tourist projects in the Um Qais (Hamat Gader) area and in the Wadi Araba area along the "Spice Route".

4. The two sides expressed their support for pursuing the idea of the Red Sea - Dead Sea Canal subject to the positive analysis of the international financial institutions as to the economic feasibility of the project.

B. Economic and trade relations
1. In recognition of their mutual desire to expand bilateral economic and trade relations, the two sides will continue to positively review their current agreements and will strive to reach new ones.

2. With the aim of removing non-tariff barriers to their trade, the two sides signed a mutual recognition agreement between their national standards institutions. They will soon exchange letters of accreditation between their laboratories.

3. Israel announced the establishment of a 100 million US dollar facility, through its Government's credit insurance agency, the Israeli Foreign Trade Risk Insurance Corporation. The facility is designed to promote joint ventures and other economic activities in Jordan.

4. The two sides expressed their gratitude to the US for the agreement to grant duty-free treatment to joint ventures' production in the qualifying industrial zone in Jordan. They agreed to establish a bilateral committee to approve the qualified joint ventures.

5. The two sides will jointly approach the European Union urging it to recognize cumulation of origin between Jordan and Israel so as to grant duty free entry to products of cumulative Jordanian-Israeli origin. The two sides will establish a joint bilateral committee to harmonize their rules of origin and relevant administrative and customs procedures.

6. The two sides recognize the importance of developing and expanding trade between Jordan, the PA and Israel. In this context, they note the following:
C. Transportation

1. Israel has informed Jordan of its Government's decision of 1 March 1998 concerning the joint Aqaba-Eilat Airport, which included increasing the number of the diverted international flights from Eilat to the joint airport. The two sides have reiterated their support for this bilateral joint venture.

2. Jordan and Israel have expressed their support for the construction of a railway link between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea for their mutual benefit. It was also agreed to establish a link between the Jordanian railway system and Israel in the area of the Dead Sea.3



Excerpts from a statement by the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
before the Subcommittee on Near East and South Asia Affairs
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, D.C., 11 March 1998

The following are excerpts from a statement made in Washington, D.C., on 11 March 1998, by the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Martin Indyk, before the Subcommittee on Near East and South Asia Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:



On the Middle East Peace Process, we have been engaged since August 1997 in a vigorous effort to put the peace process back on track. This has been an ongoing effort, its dynamic determined solely by the need to overcome the prolonged stalemate on the Israeli-Palestinian track which has stopped all progress in the peace process for more than one year.

Our approach is aimed at creating the conditions necessary for a fast track permanent status negotiation; to this end we have been working for months to facilitate an agreement between the parties on our four part agenda. In order to create a sound basis for negotiations to proceed, the parties need to address the following elements:

These four points are not an end unto themselves, but an instrument to create the environment for fast track direct, permanent status negotiations. Only through accelerated negotiations on permanent status will we get the process going again.

There has been some narrowing of the gaps on the four points, but not enough to get the parties to an agreement.

Because it was apparent that the parties lacked the trust to respond to each other, the President provided some ideas to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat on ways to advance the process, in the expectation that they would be able to respond to us. The parties need to make hard decisions soon so that we can achieve our immediate objective, which is to begin accelerated permanent status talks.

I want to emphasize here that we have no intention of "imposing a US plan". What we are doing is what the parties have asked us to do: provide ideas and facilitate the process so that they can, very soon, make the hard decisions themselves and start direct negotiations on the fundamental issues that will shape the relationship between them. There will be no US surprises; the parties know what our ideas are and we have discussed them with both sides in great detail.

But it is also important to remember that we have been engaged in this particular exercise for more than seven months. The President and Secretary of State have spent hours upon hours in direct discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat. We do not believe that more time, by itself, is going to break the current deadlock. What is needed now are the hard decisions by both sides that would allow an agreement to emerge, obligations to be implemented, and the final status negotiations resumed. We are now assessing what more we can do to get the parties to deal with the hard issues that divide them.

Why do we insist that it is time to move the peace process forward when influential voices on both sides argue for delay? It is because of our sense that the strategic window for peacemaking that opened following the Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union is now closing. Where once there was hope, there is now disillusion; where once there was a process of confidence-building, there is now growing mistrust; where once a regional coalition for peace was emerging, there is now a retreat to the dangerous limbo of "no war, no peace." It is a matter of history that, when there is no progress towards peace, a political vacuum develops, which is rapidly filled by political extremism and violence.

For all these reasons, we believe time is not on the side of the peacemakers. It is therefore essential that both sides find a way to move forward now.

We believe that the parties should also advance the process through implementation of agreements on the Gaza air and sea ports, Gaza Industrial Estate and safe passage. This would make a real difference in the lives of Palestinians and Israelis and go a long way to rebuilding some of the confidence and popular support for peace that was lost over the past discouraging year. 4




Address by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan
before the Palestinian Council
Gaza City, 23 March 1998

The following is the text of an address to the Palestinian Council made by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Gaza City on 23 March 1998:


I am honoured and delighted to stand among you today as the first Secretary-General of the United Nations to visit the Palestinian Authority. On behalf of the United Nations, I wish to salute the courage and the persistence of President Arafat and of the entire Palestinian people. By making the bold and difficult choices for peace, you have set sail towards the horizon. History will not deny you a harbour and a home.

The voyage that has carried us to this point is a voyage that we have travelled together. At every juncture and every passage, with every challenge and every success, the United Nations has stood by the proponents of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

Why? Because we could do no other. Your cause - genuine self-determination for the Palestinian people - is our cause. It is the expression of the most sacred, most enduring and universal principles of our Charter.

Today in Gaza, I can declare to you that the bonds between the Palestinian people and the United Nations are stronger than ever. Our commitment to your cause is undiminished, our hopes for your future undimmed.

A just and lasting settlement to your challenge - peace with justice for the Palestinian people - will mark a milestone of peace in the history of the United Nations. It must be a settlement based on the principle of land for peace founded on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Though you have come a long way towards realizing your dream, I know it remains a dream deferred. Though you have made great strides in completing your partnership with Israel, I fear it is a partnership which faces serious challenges. You complain that Israel is not fulfilling her obligations under the Oslo Accords. The Israeli Government, on the other hand, complains that the Palestinian Authority is not doing everything within its power to fulfil its side of the bargain. During my talks of the past few days, I have heard repeated expressions of doubt and scepticism about Israel's good faith. I shall be hearing the Israeli perspective over the next couple of days. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the respective positions of the two sides, there is clearly a crisis of confidence.

But do not despair. Do not waver. And do not falter. Do not succumb to the ways of violence. Do not accept the claims of hatred or the cries of war. They will not prevail. They will only delay the peace that you seek.

As long as security is not genuine and is not permanent for one side, it cannot be for the other. I cannot repeat this too often or too strongly. For the resort to violence and the use of terror has set back the achievement of your aspiration for far too long. Neither your friends - and you have many - nor your neighbours will be able to provide the support and the aid you deserve as long as violence is tolerated and not rejected by all.

Only peace, only compromise, only the understanding that two peoples must live - and not die - side by side, will bring peace to this land. Let me repeat: only peace, only compromise, only the understanding that two peoples must live - and not die - side by side, will bring peace to this land and self-determination for your people. And that peace will only come about if both sides adhere faithfully to the commitments they have made and carry the process through to its conclusion - a comprehensive peace settlement.

Chairman Arafat, allow me to salute your leadership today as your people are closer than ever to realizing the dream of self-determination. For 30 years, President Arafat has led the quest for the recognition of the Palestinian people.

To know that one is a master of one's fate, that one's culture and humanity have a place where they are sacred, and that place can be called home - these are the very essences of human aspiration.

With the wisdom and courage of age and experience, President Arafat joined hands five years ago with Yitzhak Rabin to begin the voyage of peace to realize those aspirations. Since then, progress that no one could have imagined a decade ago has taken place.

New bridges of trust and coexistence have been built. New terms of cooperation and new forms of interaction are taking root.

A greater number of Palestinians than ever before know the meaning of self-rule. Israelis and Palestinians are working together as never before, educating each other, aiding each other, recognizing each other as indispensable partners. These are the early fruits of peace. But they are only the beginning.

We at the United Nations are determined to see this beginning as the foundation of lasting, peaceful and sustainable development for the Palestinian people. Our commitment to your prosperity is as old as the Organization itself.

At United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Palestinian cause has been promoted and its claims have been heard as nowhere else in the world.

In the Middle East, our commitment has been reflected in the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) over the past 50 years. It has provided education, health care and relief assistance to more than 3 million Palestinians over four generations, operating in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Allow me to say today how proud I am of UNRWA's work and to express my gratitude to President Arafat and the Palestinian Authority for your cooperation.

Together, we are educating almost 500,000 pupils in 650 schools. We operate more than 120 health care facilities which handle almost 7 million patient visits annually. We provide food services to 200,000 refugees and promote self-reliance through poverty alleviation schemes.

Perhaps most importantly, UNRWA is deeply involved in bringing the fruits of the peace to the Palestinian people through projects and investment programmes. We all know that the absence of conflict is not enough. A peace that exists only on paper - whether here or anywhere else in the world - will not last. It must be lived and experienced every day by every Palestinian.

That is why I am so concerned with the current crisis in UNRWA's funding and why we will do everything to bring it to an end. UNRWA is simply too important to the future of this region to be neglected. It must be restored to its full strength over time.

In my meetings with leaders from all parts of the world, I have very strongly urged them to provide UNRWA with the means to carry out its mission effectively. Until that time, I am grateful for your understanding and patience.

The Oslo process also ushered in a new era in the work of the United Nations in the Middle East and among the Palestinian people. Drawing on UNRWA's long history, we have expanded our presence in the West Bank and Gaza from three organizations in 1993 to 15 in 1997.

The combined total of funds disbursed through United Nations channels was $254 million in 1996.

Through the joint efforts of the United Nations Special Coordinator and the Special Representative of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations development activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are being coordinated and strengthened to ensure the greatest efficiency and effectiveness. We are determined that our assistance reach and improve the lives of as many men, women and children as possible.

That is what we can do. The rest is for you to accomplish. You and no one else can bring to life a Palestinian policy that provides the peace and prosperity that your people deserve.

You and no else can ensure that human rights are upheld and respected, not only for those Palestinians outside your jurisdiction but also for those within. You and no one else can ensure that sustainable economic growth will benefit all through the practice of good governance at all levels of leadership.

These are your burdens, and your challenges. I have no doubt that you will meet them.

As we turn another corner in the long passage to peace, let us recall that it was above all dialogue, and not force, that got you to this point.

Let us recall that it was negotiations, not ultimatums, that narrowed the divide and facilitated the first steps. Let us recall that it was the courage to recognize in yesterday's adversary tomorrow's partner that made the dream as real as it has ever been.

The voices of the vast majority of men and women, young and old, Palestinians, Israelis and others around the world, are calling for peace. They have seen its promise and witnessed its glories.

This is not the time to turn your backs on peace. Too much is at stake. Too much has been achieved.

I would like to conclude by taking this opportunity to make clear to you the nature, the demands and the promise of the agreement I reached with the Government of Iraq. I went to Baghdad, with the full authorization of all members of the Security Council, in search of a peaceful solution to the crisis. That crisis has, at least for now, been averted.

The mandate of the Security Council has been reaffirmed. The access of United Nations inspectors has not only been restored, but expanded to include any and all sites. The authority of the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission has been acknowledged and strengthened.

Whether the threat to international peace and security has been averted for all time is now in the hands of the Iraqi leadership. It is now for them to comply in practice with what they have signed on paper. If they do, it will bring nearer the day when Iraq can fully rejoin the family of nations. In the meantime, the expanded "oil-for-food" programme should help alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people.

The agreement reached in Baghdad was neither a "victory" nor a "defeat" for any one person, nation or group of nations. Certainly, the United Nations and the world community lost nothing, gave away nothing and conceded nothing of substance.

But by halting, at least for now, the renewal of military hostilities in the Gulf, it was a victory for peace, for reason, for the resolution of conflict by diplomacy.

If this agreement is fully implemented and leads over time to a new day in the Gulf - if this exercise in diplomacy, backed by fairness, firmness and force, stands the test of time - it will serve as an enduring and invaluable precedent for the United Nations and the world community. But it can do even more. It is also my hope that this agreement, in a small but substantial way, may also create a new belief in the possible in the Middle East peace process - a belief that diplomacy and negotiations, if entered into in good faith and practised with care and commitment, can resolve the longest and most intractable of conflicts.

The United Nations, founded even before the close of the Second World War over 50 years ago, has an inherent obligation to remember that even the deepest enmities among nations do not last forever. It is this obligation that makes us persist in the face of opposition, and leads us to believe that a just and lasting peace - here, as everywhere - is not only needed, but possible.5



Address by Secretary-General Kofi Annan before the
Israel Foreign Relations Council and the United Nations Association of Israel
Jerusalem, 25 March 1998

The following is the text of an address entitled “Israel and the United Nations” made by Secretary-General Kofi Annan before the Israel Foreign Relations Council and the United Nations Association of Israel, in Jerusalem, on 25 March 1998:


I am pleased to join you today on my first official visit to Israel as Secretary-General of the United Nations. I have been here many times over the years, most recently as Under-Secretary-General for Peace-keeping Operations. Very early in my career, I served as a civilian official with the United Nations Emergency Force. So, in visiting Israel, I am again amongst people I know well, people with whom I know I can work in pursuit of the goals we share and hold dear; among friends.

I have come at a time of considerable uneasiness in the region: over tension concerning Iraq, over the slow pace of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, over the absence of movement on the other tracks of the Middle East peace process.

I have come to the Middle East to listen and to learn, to hear the concerns of the leaders and peoples of the region, to reflect together with you, and to reassure you of the support of the United Nations and of its Secretary-General, in helping to resolve these complex issues. I know that Israelis and Arabs alike long to lead peaceful, stable lives, lives free of fear and upheaval.

My first message to the Israeli public concerns the peace process. Almost two decades ago, your nation welcomed President Sadat to Jerusalem and made peace with a former enemy. And five years ago, almost no one, not even in this land of prophets and visionaries, would have predicted that such dramatic gains could be achieved in your relations with the Palestinians.

But the political map of the Middle East has changed profoundly. Israelis and Palestinians have begun to treat one another as partners, not as enemies. Of course, many problems remain. No one said that forging a lasting peace would be easy.

At such times, we must remember the comprehensive peace settlement that the Oslo process has brought firmly into view. The simple fact remains: the pre-Oslo status quo was untenable; there is no viable alternative to Oslo; and potentially grave consequences loom should the process fail.

I am painfully aware that the Oslo accords have not marked the end of violence and terror among Israelis and Palestinians. More than 100 Israeli civilians, among them many women and children, have lost their lives in senseless and despicable acts of terrorism, including several devastating bomb attacks in the heart of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Many innocent Palestinians have also fallen victim to extremist violence; more than 40 were killed during prayers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, a site sacred to both Jews and Arabs.

And only 28 months ago, on one of the saddest days in the recent history of the region, a man for whom I have enormous respect, admiration and affection, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, became a martyr of the peace process which he himself had led.

That was indeed a mournful day for Israel, the region and the world. Israelis and Palestinians, I pray, will not allow the peace process, launched so valiantly by Yitzhak Rabin and his Palestinian partners, to be taken hostage by the enemies of peace.

They will not, I pray, surrender to those extremist elements who kill and maim in order to wreck the peace process. So my first message is this: Israelis and Palestinians must persevere. There is no alternative, unless you want relations with your Palestinian partners, and perhaps others, to regress and revert to the enmity of old.

My second message concerns the United Nations itself and our long history together. It will surprise none of you to hear me describe the United Nations as an indispensable institution in today's global era.

The founding of Israel and the founding of the United Nations are connected in spirit and in history, in promise and in peril. Indeed, Israel's birth was enshrined in a historic United Nations resolution: the partition plan of 1947. When war erupted with the proclamation of the State of Israel in 1948, the United Nations stood by Israel. The Security Council called for an immediate cease-fire and established a truce commission.

The efforts of Ralph Bunche to help produce a negotiated solution won the Nobel prize for peace. Before and since, United Nations officials, civilian and military, made the ultimate sacrifice in the search for peace between Israel and its neighbours. First among them all, of course, was Count Folke Bernadotte.

In the decades since, the United Nations has represented the international community's abiding interest in a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. The Oslo negotiations are founded on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), which are a cornerstone of Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.

On the ground, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Office of the Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Children's Fund are among the myriad of United Nations organizations providing much-needed humanitarian and economic assistance to the Palestinians. Our peace-keeping operations have, for decades, helped maintain stability in this area.

I am well aware, however, that for many Israelis the image of the United Nations has not lived up to its founding spirit. I know that the United Nations is regarded by many as biased against the State of Israel.

I know that Israelis see hypocrisy and double standards in the intense scrutiny given to some of its actions, while other situations fail to elicit the world's outrage and condemnations. I know that Israelis are offended when other nations' delegates leave the room as Israelis rise to speak. Abba Eban, one of the most eloquent and effective diplomats ever to grace the United Nations halls, was at one point so discouraged by events at the United Nations that he wrote, "The world seemed to belong to our foes."

I would like to respond to your concerns with a solemn pledge: I believe that it is time to usher in a new era of relations between Israel and the United Nations. Everyone stands to benefit: Israelis, Palestinians, the rest of the Arab world and the international community in general. My contacts with Israelis over the years convince me that we can, together, overcome the suspicion and misunderstanding.

One way to write that new chapter would be to rectify an anomaly: Israel's position as the only Member State that is not a member of one of the regional groups, which means it has no chance of being elected to serve on main organs such as the Security Council or the Economic and Social Council. This anomaly should be corrected. We must uphold the principle of equality among all United Nations Member States.

The normalization of Israel's status within the United Nations would help normalize Israel's view of the United Nations. The United Nations is not just a political body and there is much more on its agenda than Middle East issues. Israelis know this already, but increased participation can only promote a more balanced view of the United Nations work.

I see great potential here. Israel already contributes more to the work of the United Nations than most people realize. I am thinking, for example, of Israeli experts serving on human rights bodies, on election observation teams, and of Israeli medical teams sent to help deliver emergency relief to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Israel has still more to gain by participation in all that the United Nations seeks to achieve in peace and development.

But normalization cannot happen unless Israel has confidence on another, much deeper level. Israelis were understandably enraged last year when Israel was accused in the Commission on Human Rights, which, as you know, is a body made up of Member States, of injecting Palestinian children with the AIDS virus.

Such baseless allegations are totally unacceptable and deserve universal condemnation. I have said on more than one occasion that I would expect all such statements to be challenged whenever and wherever they are made. Having chaired the opening session of this year's Commission on Human Rights just last week, I am pleased to say that the allegation was once again condemned.

Indeed, I would like to underline this message by citing the statement of Ambassador Miroslav Somol, the Chairman of last year's Commission, which he delivered on 16 March: "It is essential that our debates are carried out in a manner observing basic standards of mutual respect. Allegations that contain racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, discriminatory or other similar unacceptable features must be avoided because they are not compatible with the established working procedures or with a kind of code of conduct of this distinguished body. As the outgoing Chairman with specific experience in facing such a difficult situation and allegation, I would strongly appeal that all speakers, be it representatives of Member States, observers or non-governmental organizations, respect these limits in order to avoid hurting any nation, race, religion or vulnerable group of people in discussion."

I hope this statement can put this issue behind us once and for all. Still, the broader fight against anti-Semitism must be addressed. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We must use the occasion to denounce anti-Semitism in all of its manifestations. This brings me to the lamentable resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1975, equating Zionism with racism and racial discrimination. That was, perhaps, the low point in our relations; its negative resonance even today is difficult to overestimate. Fortunately, the General Assembly rescinded the resolution in 1991.

I now come to the third and most difficult message of my visit. It is easy to talk of peace and to express regret about the past.

It is not so easy to present challenges, especially to sovereign nations facing the kinds of difficulties that Israel faces. But at this crucial moment, that is precisely what I need to do.

As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am now, as I have always been, a friend of Israel. But I am also a friend of those with whom you may not always see eye to eye. Here is my challenge. I want Israel and its partners to make the difficult choices required for peace.

As a friend, it gives me no pleasure to recite a list of the grievances which the international community has against Israel. But I think it is important for you, my Israeli friends, to try to understand that those grievances do not come out of a clear blue sky. Here is what the great majority of the Member States of the United Nations say: they regard Israel as having been responsible, directly or indirectly, for provocative acts that undermine goodwill and spark hostilities.

In their view, Israel has not abided by Security Council resolutions. They point out that you have been slow to fulfil your obligations under the Oslo agreements, and that you have made your implementation conditional in a way that the Oslo accords did not. They see that you have expanded old settlements and started new ones. They are concerned by the closures, roadblocks and other restrictions that aggravate the economic and humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinians. They regret other actions that take from Palestinians their homes, their land, their jobs, their residence permits - their very dignity.

Friends, I ask you to accept that the great mass of world opinion, including many countries that are sympathetic to Israel and to the Israeli dilemma, genuinely feels that Israel is doing a great disservice to its cause and to its standing by persisting with these practices. And that despite its position of strength - economically, militarily and scientifically - Israel has not seemed ready for reasonable compromise. The promise of 1993 has become the crisis of expectations of 1998, for both peoples.

I ask Israel to accept that, just as you are entitled to ask your Palestinian partners to do their best to live up to their side of the bargain under the agreements reached, so they too are justified in asking you to fulfil your obligations.

In my talks in the region, almost every Arab leader I have met has expressed strong support for a just and comprehensive peace with Israel. I take encouragement from that. But I have found those same leaders depressed about the stalled state of the peace process; sceptical about the good faith of the current Israeli Government; inclined to suspect that Israeli conditionality marks an unwillingness to carry out your side of the bargain. I have found, in short, a crisis of confidence.

There is a way out of this crisis of confidence, a way well known to all. A road map exists. It is for you and your partners to follow it, past all obstacles and exits, to its logical, inevitable destination - a comprehensive peace settlement. And just as there is peril in driving too fast, so in this case is it dangerous to move too slowly.

We are engaged in a process that will either move forward or will move backward, but that cannot for long remain stalled. It is, therefore, essential that Israel - and her adversaries in the region - commit themselves to a comprehensive peace based on the principles enshrined in resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and reflected in the Oslo accords - most fundamentally, land for peace. It is the only principle that has a change of bringing peace to this land.

At the same time, I would like to reiterate the unequivocal commitment of the United Nations, and my own personal commitment, to uphold the right of all peoples to live in peace, and to pursue their daily lives free from terror, threats and acts of aggression.

I would like to take this opportunity to make clear to you the nature, the demands and the promise of the agreement I reached with the Government of Iraq. I went to Baghdad, with the full authorization of all members of the Security Council, in search of a peaceful solution to the crisis. That crisis has, at least for now, been averted.

The mandate of the Security Council has been reaffirmed.

The access of United Nations inspectors has been not only restored, but expanded to include any and all sites. The authority of the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission has been acknowledged and strengthened.

Whether the threat to international peace and security has been averted for all time is now in the hands of the Iraqi leadership. It is now for them to comply in practice with what they have signed on paper. If they do, it will bring nearer the day when Iraq can fully rejoin the family of nations. In the meantime, the expanded "oil-for-food" programme should help alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people.

The Agreement reached in Baghdad was neither a "victory" nor a "defeat" for any one person, nation or group of nations. Certainly, the United Nations and the world community lost nothing, gave away nothing and conceded nothing of substance. But by halting, at least for now, the renewal of military hostilities in the Gulf, it was a victory for peace, for reason, for the resolution of conflict by diplomacy.

In closing, I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of Israel's fiftieth anniversary. You have chosen to describe this anniversary as marketing "an era of hope for peace". For my part, I sincerely hope that, in this new era, the United Nations will be seen in Israel as a vehicle for realizing the universal values of the Jewish people.

I emphasize the universality of those values because I believe that the values of tolerance and mercy, of respect and the dignity of all peoples, are inherent to the human rights of the entire human race. They are rights that are longed for by all, and rights that belong to all.

During this fiftieth anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I have said, and I have said often, that human rights are African rights, Asian rights, American rights and European rights. They are also Palestinian rights and Israeli rights. I have said also that true faith elicits respect, while fanaticism breeds hatred. The problem, in my view, is not faith. The problem, all too often, is the faithful.

I have illustrated my appeals to human rights and my fervent belief in their universality by citing a call from the depth of the unique and universal horror of the Holocaust.

Allow me to quote Martin Niemoller:

I come today to speak up - for Israel, for the Palestinians, for peace. For when we speak up, individually and collectively, with one voice or with a multitude of voices, we can and we must overwhelm the sounds of war.

We can and we must overcome the seeds of intolerance. We can and we must forge the peace and justice that all peoples seek, that all peoples deserve. 6



Resolution on the Palestine refugee situation
adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 23 April 1998

The following resolution was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France, on 23 April 1998:

Resolution 1156 (1998)
Palestine refugee situation in the context of the Middle East peace process

1. The Parliamentary Assembly notes that, under the Israeli/Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Agreement of 13 September 1993, the matter of refugees is one of the "permanent status" issues for negotiation to be completed by May 1999.

2. The Assembly deplores the lack of progress regarding these negotiations and welcomes the renewal of talks following the visit of the Secretary of State of the United States of America to the region in September 1997. The Assembly also emphasises the role of Europe in accelerating the peace process.

3. The Assembly accepts that United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of 1948 refers to the right of return for all refugees to their homes and compensation for those choosing not to do so, but that after fifty years this will be politically and practically difficult to achieve.

4. The Assembly also accepts that the present situation of the 3.4 million refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the host countries, of whom over a million live in camps, must be resolved by resettlement to permanent accommodation, not only for humanitarian reasons but also as an essential step towards ending a major source of insecurity and tension in the region.

5. The Assembly believes that this will not be possible without the establishment of a viable Palestinian state which can provide the refugees with citizenship and internationally recognised passports.

6. Once this is achieved, the Assembly considers that the refugees can be offered a choice of options for a durable solution to be agreed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) and with the other countries concerned.

7. These options are:

8. The Assembly considers that the services of the UNRWA must be fully maintained until a permanent solution is achieved, and that the cost of resettlement must be additional to existing funding of UNRWA to ensure a seamless transfer of its services to the governments concerned.

9. The Assembly considers that a new fund should now be established by the United Nations to finance the forthcoming cost of resettlement: the Palestine Refugee and Displaced Persons Final Status Fund (the "Fund").

10. Accordingly, the Assembly:

11. The Assembly is aware of the recent pilot study for the compilation of a computerised database of the registered refugees for the UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority. It urges the member states to consider how such a database can contribute to a resolution of the refugee situation, including claims for compensation, and to support its financing at a cost of US$7 million so that it can proceed.

12. The Assembly notes the concern of many parties that there has been a lack of political and academic study of the refugee problem and questions of compensation, and urges member states to encourage and commission such vital work. 7




Remarks by the United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
at the “Seeds of Peace” anniversary dinner (excerpts)
New York, 26 April 1998

The following are excerpts from remarks made, on 26 April 1998, by the United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the “Seeds of Peace” programme’s sixth anniversary dinner:



We look forward to the Seeds of Peace Summit in Geneva next month and to the unprecedented summer sessions planned in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan this summer. And most of all - most of all, we look forward to the day not far off when graduates of this programme will begin to take their place in Governments, on university faculties, and in businesses, social and religious institutions. And we can hope that the currents of tolerance and understanding they unleash will gather first into a mighty stream and then an unstoppable tide.

Sadly, the year since we gathered last spring to honour His Majesty King Hussein has been disappointing for friends of peace in the Middle East. A crisis of confidence has eroded the spirit of partnership between Israelis and Palestinians. We've witnessed horrible incidents of terror, seen unhelpful unilateral actions and heard both sides employ harsh accusations that have undermined the spirit of partnership necessary to advance peace. Last September - and then again in February - during visits to the Middle East, I saw firsthand the divisions and the deep sense of disappointment and uncertainty that exists in Israel, on the West Bank, and to an extent throughout the region. Because of these divisions, we have entered a period of grave danger.

We face the possibility that the momentum that had been built in the direction of peace will snap back and begin to run in reverse. If that happens, we may see a future in the Middle East that mirrors the grim and conflict-ridden past. We cannot let that happen - I repeat - we cannot let that happen. The leaders on all sides in the region know the history. For better or worse, they will one day be chapters in it. They also know that their peoples have gained much from the progress already made. Because of past breakthroughs strongly supported by the United States, Israel is at peace with Egypt and Jordan when in past decades they engaged in bitter war. As the State of Israel approaches its 50th anniversary this week - an event that Vice President Gore will be helping Israelis celebrate - Israel has an opportunity to obtain the security is has for too long been denied.

The United States understands how important this objective and is unshakeably committed to helping Israelis achieve it. The way is now open if the will to resume negotiations is there for a comprehensive peace that includes Syria and Lebanon. A road map has been set out for regional cooperation on everything from water to the environment to refugees. The international community - including the United States - is working with the Palestinian people to relieve poverty, build infrastructure and create jobs.

And as a consequence of Oslo, Israelis and Palestinians have reached a series of agreements that if properly implemented will leave Israel more secure, Palestinians with real self-government and real responsibility for their own affairs, and create for both a chance to negotiate the core elements of a permanent peace. These are historic achievements that should not dismissed, underestimated, or forgotten. They provide the foundation for a future in which every people in the region could realize its hopes, in which every people could live free from the threat of terror and war - in which every people could exist in dignity and in which each could have the skills and the opportunity to participate in the global economy.

Ecclesiastics tells us there is a time to every purpose under Heaven. Tonight, the children of the Middle East have told us that this is the time for peace.

When I leave here tonight, I will fly to the Pacific Rim. And after my business there is done, I will fly further west until - in a week - I arrive in London. I will meet there separately with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat. We will see then whether the two leaders are prepared to make the tough choices required to move the peace process along.

My message will be straightforward. It is no longer enough just to talk, or to talk about having more talks. We have been going around in circles for far too long.
Under Oslo, an agreement on permanent status should be reached by 4 May 1999, exactly one year from our meeting in London. The United States takes that date very seriously. Every effort should be made to meet that target. It will be difficult. But, as Ruth Ratner Miller would have reminded us, anything is possible if the will is there to get the job done.

What is needed is a recommitment to the spirit of partnership; a determination to work not against, but with each other; a willingness to agree to concrete steps; and the vision and courage sufficient to seize the strategic opportunity for peace that past progress has created. 8

* * *







Notes

1 European Union website at europa.eu.int/rapid/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc=IP/98/37|0|RAPID&lg=EN.

2European Union Presidency website of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office presid.fco.gov.uk/news/1998/feb/04/presdec1.txt.

3Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Information Division at gopher://israel-info.gov.il/0R149117-155904-/new/pprocess1.

4US Department of State, The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at www.state.gov/www/regions/nea.

5United Nations, Department of Public Information, Press release No. SG/SM/6501, 23 March 1998.

6United Nations, Department of Public Information, Press release No. SG/SM/6504, 25 March 1998.

7Council of Europe website at assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/AdoptedText/TA98/eres1156.htm.

8US Department of State, Secretary of State at secretary.state.gov/www/statements/1998.

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter