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

7 October 1999



In Press Release GA/9615 of 29 September 1999, the statement by Israel on page 5, which had several paragraphs inadvertently omitted, should read as follows:

DAVID LEVY, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, said that, on the way to achieving peace in the Middle East, Israel found itself confronted with contradicting realities. Parallel to the political process, its negotiating partners were conducting a strident political war against Israel in different international forums, including the General Assembly. That dualism was intolerable, as were the extreme decisions taken by the Arab League against Israel, which were not harmonious with the spirit of peace as expressed in the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum.
He said Israel was determined to reach a framework agreement, which would form the basis of the permanent status agreement, by February 2000, as agreed upon in the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum. The topics at hand were known, as were the different vantage points of each side. Those differences could be solved only through negotiation. Regarding the final status, he affirmed that, when Israel referred to political separation as one of the prime concepts in the permanent settlement, it was also saying that, for the benefit of both sides, essential ties vital to coexistence in the various spheres of living should not necessarily be severed.

Noting that there had never been any competition between the different negotiating tracks from Israel’s perspective, he said Israel aspired to reach peace with Syria, its neighbour to the north. It was time to talk. Meetings and discussions were not political sacrifices, but basic necessities. Israel also wished to see Lebanon join the camp of peacemakers. The anomaly that had developed on its territory must end. Israel had never had territorial claims or disputes with Lebanon. Its one and only interest was to guarantee the safety and security of its citizens. The Government of Lebanon had failed in past years to enforce its sovereignty in the southern part of Lebanon and to disarm the Hizbullah. Israel hoped the situation would take a turn for the better and that it would be able to leave south Lebanon as part of an agreement, but it would not be held hostage to a defiant attitude for much longer.

A reconciliation between Israel and its neighbours must extend to the promise of spreading the benefits of peace to all people in the region, he said. Normalization must not be a one-sided gesture. Normalization -- a natural product of peaceful coexistence -– was not in the service of any particular party. It was in the interest of all nations in the region. Israel hoped to renew the multilateral tracks in the current year. The region has tremendous potential. In order to fully realize that potential, a cooperation mechanism must be established among the States of the region. For example, the scarcity of water in the region, which will only get worse, could impose a new way of life in the coming years. Israel was preparing for the situation, but cooperation in the region was essential.

“We cannot afford to be disillusioned”, he said. Even as peace was negotiated, Israel remained aware of the dangers directed against it. The mix of extreme fundamentalism and weapons of mass destruction threatened the peace of the entire region, and that was not just an academic debate, but a hard reality. He called for a halt to all technological assistance to countries looking to obtain unconventional weapons, while threatening the existence of Israel and the region as a whole. Further, the monitoring groups in Iraq must be immediately resumed. In closing, he said that since the time of the Biblical David until today, Jerusalem had not served as the capital of any other nation except Israel. It was upsetting that today, 51 years after Israel’s independence, there were still those who would deny Israel the right to decide on the location of its capital.

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