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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
1 June 1991
APPROACHES TOWARDS
THE SETTLEMENT
OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT
AND THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE


Issue 3 - May 1991



United Nations
New York, June 1991



- i -



CONTENTS

Page
INTRODUCTION
ii
PLO Chairman's Labour Day address, Tunis, 1 May 1991
1
Statement by Mr. Alexander Bessmertnykh upon arrival in Israel, Tel Aviv, 10 May 1991
2
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir on the question of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 12 May 1991
2
Statement by Mr. Alexander Bessmertnykh upon conclusion of Soviet-PLO consultations, Geneva, 15 May 1991
3
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir interviewed on peace process in the Middle East, Jerusalem, 18 May 1991
3
Address by King Hussein of Jordan at the Royal War College graduation ceremony, Amman, 22 May 1991
4
Testimony of Mr. James Baker before the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Washington, D.C., 23 May 1991
6
Statement of the PLO Executive Committee, Tunis, 29-30 May 1991
8




INTRODUCTION


In April 1991, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People requested that the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat prepare urgently and update regularly, for the use of the Committee members and observers, a compilation of the relevant recent statements, declaration and proposals regarding the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the question of Palestine and the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East. The first issue of the compilation, prepared in response to the decision of the Committee, appeared in April 1991; the second in May 1991.

The present compilation is the third in the series.

Note should be made that reproduced herein are only those parts of the statements, declarations, proposals and initiatives, quoted or summarized, which relate to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the question of Palestine.

PLO Chairman's Labour Day address,
Tunis, 1 May 1991


On 1 May 1991, Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, speaking at Tunis, addressed Palestinian workers in the diaspora and in the occupied Palestinian territory. Mr. Arafat said, inter alia, the following regarding the prospects of achieving peace in the Middle East:


"...

"We know that the oil in the Gulf is one thing, and the Palestinian torment, even blood, is another thing in the eyes of the US and other world Powers who are allied with the US. Even though, and after the devastating war that the US directed on the Arab land, with Arab blood and Arab money, US President George Bush announced his initiative for solving the Palestinian question in front of the US Congress,* based on the formula of land for peace, and on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories, and in a way that will guarantee the political legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Despite some evident shortcomings in that initiative, we in the PLO have decided to express a positive reaction and readiness to deal with the positive aspects of the US initiative and moves.

"I say frankly that the American moves and initiative are beginning to sink in the whirlpool of Israeli stubbornness and rejection. But what will the US administration do towards Israel, will the US use the same measures used against Iraq?

"The US administration is very well aware that Israel had sabotaged and will scuttle the peace process in the region. The US has not done anything until now to force Israel to open the gates for a real, permanent and just peace to guarantee Palestinian national rights. Such policy plants the seeds of a new war in the region because nothing can be straight on this land, and no peace and stability will ensue, and no new world or regional order will be established by bypassing the national legitimate permanent rights of the Palestinians to include their right to return, self-determination, and establishing their independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital, as guaranteed by United Nations resolutions and the world."1/


________________
*See "Approaches towards the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the question of Palestine", January 1988-March 1991, Issue 1 (Revised), p. 24.




Statement by Mr. Alexander Bessmertnykh
upon arrival in Israel, Tel Aviv, 10 May 1991


On 10 May 1991, upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Mr. Alexander Bessmertnykh, made a statement in which he said, inter alia:


"...

"Our arrival in Israel coincides with a very important period in international relations and also in the development of the Middle East situation. I think that the substance of this new phase is that we really have a chance to begin a peace settlement process and to achieve a settlement that will be satisfactory to all the nations and peoples of this region. This real chance is the result of the important changes that have occurred in the international situation and also of the more positive sentiment in the region itself, and we believe that this opportunity has to be used.

"In this context, the Soviet Union, the United States, and other countries have begun to jointly develop a platform that would be a basis for unfolding a process of peaceful settlement. This work is focusing on the idea of holding a Middle East peace conference and I intend to discuss the various aspects of this with the leaders of Israel."2/




Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir on the question of Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, 12 May 1991


Speaking before a Jerusalem Day immigrant rally, on 12 May 1991, the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Yitzhak Shamir, said the following on the question of Jerusalem:


"...

"Two days ago, was, from a certain perspective, a historical day in Jerusalem--when the Soviet foreign minister entered the city. For the first time in Israel, a guest of such seniority from the USSR, held political talks with representatives of the Israeli Government, as equals among equals. We discussed the peace process with him and explained to him that thus far Israel has demonstrated willingness for peace and has made more than a few concessions in order to bring about direct negotiations. Not so the Arabs. They have shown no sign of sincere and true willingness for peace and for accepting Israel. They set their eyes on Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip--and East Jerusalem as well.

"...

"We told them, and we repeat and say from here as well--from the heart of Jerusalem: Israel's capital will never again be a divided city, a city with a wall at its centre, a city in which two flags fly. This city, will, in its entirety, absorb immigrants, welcome pilgrims and be the eternal capital of Israel forever."3/




Statement by Mr. Alexander Bessmertnykh
upon conclusion of Soviet-PLO consultations,
Geneva, 15 May 1991


The following is an excerpt from the statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Mr. Alexander Bessmertnykh, on 15 May 1991, upon the conclusion of his consultations at Geneva with the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Mr. Yasser Arafat:


"...

"It is important to me to emphasize that the core of our talks centred on the search for a better way to achieve the national legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. This is a natural right because the Palestinian question and the future of the Palestinian people are the basis for the solution in the Middle East.

"In the past, the Soviet Union stood side by side with the Palestinian people, and at the present time, we continue this position in light of the new opportunities created in the region. I can say that the dialogue between us was important and fruitful.

"We thank the leadership of the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, for their support of the efforts made by us and the United States. I want to say that we agreed to continue intensive contacts between us and the Palestinians."4/




Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir interviewed
on peace process in the Middle East,
Jerusalem, 18 May 1991


On 18 May 1991, the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Yitzhak Shamir, in an interview with a Kol Yisrael correspondent, stated the following regarding the peace process in the Middle East:


"... In general, our aim is to advance the process and bring a settlement to the conflict closer. We believe that a settlement is objectively possible, and we all--including the United States--are now convinced that the only way to reach a settlement is the path successfully tried in the Camp David accords.

"...

"I mentioned, not accidentally, the Camp David accords. As is known, in all the efforts leading up to the Camp David accords there was absolutely no UN participation or involvement. It is a fact that later the signatories to the agreement appealed to the United Nations, but it refused to approve the accords, which up to now do not have the signature or approval of the United Nations. On the issue of the continuation of the conference--well, the process will continue until it ends successfully.

"...

"We are not talking about a conference that should continue or should not continue. In general, what is important is not the meeting itself, but the original idea, initiated by the United States four years ago, that the process will start with a meeting in Washington, to which the President of the United States and the president of the USSR will invite all the leaders of the Middle East States, including Israel. The outcome of the meeting will be the start of a process of direct negotiations between Israel and its neighbours. That is the idea. It does not refer to any conference, but a meeting which has that as its target. As time passed, there was also talk of whether the meetings could also discuss regional problems shared by all the States in the region, such as water and ecological problems. That, however, has nothing to do with the matter at hand; it has nothing to do with the political process. There should be, therefore, no talk about greater flexibility. We are interested that this meeting take place, that direct bilateral negotiations begin in its aftermath, and that there be no diversion from that path, from that framework.

"We should, of course, not deny that the Arab States, the Arab elements in general, are pulling toward an international conference. They are not great advocates of direct negotiations. We must constantly make sure that the process is conducted within the framework in which we are interested. From time to time there are confrontations over that--sometimes more, sometimes less. We are firm in that position. We do not care whether somebody adds some discussion here or there; the main point is that the main framework be maintained; a meeting for the purpose of conducting direct negotiations. That is the aim of the process and the operation.

"...

"... The Secretary of State raised the issue of the link with the United Nations, which is hard for him since the Arabs, for obvious reasons, have a positive attitude toward the United Nations, to the same extent that we have a negative attitude toward it. That is all. We have said that Israel has had a very bad history with the United Nations, and whoever cares for himself in Israel distances himself from that Organization."5/




Address by King Hussein of Jordan at the
Royal War College graduation ceremony,
Amman, 22 May 1991


On 22 May 1991, addressing the graduate officers at the Royal War College, at Amman, King Hussein of Jordan explained his Government's position regarding the peace process in the Middle East:


"...

"On 6 March, US President George Bush delivered a speech* at a joint session of Congress in which he said that the US administration will embark on action to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict and resolve the Palestine question to achieve a comprehensive solution in accordance with the following four principles: territory in exchange for peace; Security Council resolutions 242 and 338; recognizing Israel and guaranteeing secure borders for it; and guaranteeing the legitimate political rights of the Palestinian people.

"We welcome this initiative based on the following five considerations:

"1. The State that made the initiative is the State that led the coalition States under the umbrella of the international legitimacy in the Gulf crisis. This has given its initiative credibility to resolve old and new conflicts in the same region--that is, the Arab-Israeli conflict, which resulted from the Palestine question.

"2. The four principles outlined by President Bush represent a sound concept for a peaceful settlement based on international legitimacy.

"3. We saw in the initiative a serious US attempt to balance the great international concern for the implementation of international legitimacy to end the Gulf crisis, where it had not previously shown the same concern for international legitimacy in regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict and to resolving the Palestine question.

"4. The initiative came at a time when international legitimacy was still alive and vibrating in the conscience of the world and as a more prominent feature of the new world order, considering it the first credible reference in solving international disputes.

"5. The initiative came to meet a collective Arab demand to resolve the Palestine question in accordance with the international legitimacy, like the Gulf crisis.

"...

"In accordance with the principles cited in President Bush's initiative, the United States came forward with a peace plan based on holding a conference from which negotiations will be launched on two tracks.

"On the first track, each of the Arab States directly involved in the conflict would enter into negotiations, and in the second, the Palestinians would enter into negotiations with Israel. Negotiations on both tracks would start simultaneously, eventually to merge at one point. At that point, the agreements reached by the negotiators would be referred to the UN Security Council, with issued resolutions 242 and 338 and which would guarantee the peace agreements.

"Shortly after the start of the two-track negotiations, negotiations would begin in a third sphere related to regional issues like the removal of weapons of mass destruction, water, environment, and others. The region's States will participate in these negotiations. So far, the Gulf Cooperation Council States have already announced their agreement to participate in these negotiations and to attend the peace conference as an observer. We consider this agreement a responsible a positive step that will help establish peace and stability in the Middle East.

"We have accepted and welcomed the broad framework of this concept, and emphasized our firmly established conviction that resolution 242 means first of all respecting the principle of land for peace, because a just and comprehensive peaceful settlement cannot give Israel both land and peace. That would be ludicrous, because it would mean a lack of seriousness in the quest for peace. Accordingly, we embarked on three rounds of talks with US Secretary of State Mr. James Baker, in a spirit of open-mindedness and seriousness, during which we presented our views on the details of the plan and its elements. We also held similar talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Mr. Alexander Bessmertnykh. As a result of our talks with the two ministers, we made tangible progress toward reaching an agreement. We hope that all parties will cooperate in the same spirit in order to realize a comprehensive agreement to begin peace negotiations on the basis of international legitimacy.

"Israel, in particular, is called on to abandon its intransigence, be flexible in its position, and respect this legitimacy, because peace deserves this, and because it is not a reward to one party to the exclusion of another. The peace that is needed by everyone in the region, after this prolonged dispute, should not be dealt with in the spirit of a businessman, who seeks to gain as much profit as possible at the expense of the other party by seizing the opportunity that is more in his favor. Such a peace cannot last long and be strong. We must view peace as a promise bearing good for everybody and not merely an end to the state of war and an end to suffering."6/

________________
*See "Approaches towards the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the question of Palestine", January 1988-March 1991, Issue 1 (Revised), p. 24.




Testimony of Mr. James Baker before the Foreign Operations Subcommittee
of the Senate Appropriations Committee,
Washington, D.C., 23 May 1991


On 23 May 1991, in the course of the hearings of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the United States Secretary of State, Mr. James Baker, described the state of the peace process in the Middle East, as well as the United States policy in the region in the following terms:


"...

"We felt it was important in order to test the moment, to engage in a process that might break some of the taboos that have long existed on direct dialogue, direct negotiations between the parties. If the impulse to make peace was different we needed to overcome the barriers to Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians meetings directly. We needed to establish that dialogue and diplomacy not violence or rejectionism could become the currency of politics in the region.

"The war provided us with a grim reminder of the dangers of conflict in an era of escalating military competition. It was a reminder that the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians was still at the core of the Arab-Israeli problem, but that the State-to-State dimension also had to be addressed. And it was a hopeful reminder that Israel and the Arab States sometimes find common ground between them, common ground which might provide room for manoeuvre to encourage Israeli-Palestinian accommodation.

"So our post-war task was to try to blend what was new and promising following the crisis, with the enduring principles of Arab-Israeli diplomacy. That was the purpose of my first three trips to the region after the war, and the result, Mr. Chairman and members of the panel, was a consensus among the parties on five key points, points that I think are very important that we take note of and acknowledge, because I think that consensus on these points represents some progress.

"First of all there is general agreement among the parties, and I think this is very important, that the objective of the process is a comprehensive settlement achieved through direct negotiations based on resolutions 242 and 338. All of the parties have agreed that if they do come to the table they will come to the table under those terms of reference and I think that's very important.

"There will of course be differing interpretations by each of the parties with respect to exactly what 242 means and requires.

"Secondly, there is broad understanding that the negotiating process would proceed simultaneously along two tracks involving direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and direct negotiations between Israel and Arab States.

"Third, there's agreement that the negotiations between Israel and Palestinians would proceed in phases, with talks on interim self-government preceding negotiations over the permanent status of the occupied territories, much as is required or provided for in the Camp David agreement.

"Fourth, there is agreement that Palestinians would be represented in the process by leaders from the occupied territories who accept the two-track process and phased approach to negotiations, and who commit to living in peace with Israel.

"Fifth, there's general acceptance that a conference co-sponsored by the United States and the Soviet Union would break the old taboos about public contacts between the parties and would be the launching pad for direct negotiations between the parties.

"As I said earlier, Mr. Chairman, these are not insignificant areas of consensus. And they provide us with a baseline for progress. But they've still got to be translated into a practical process, and that was the purpose of my most recent trip to the area.

"So let me, if I might, give you a sense of the key issues that we are still trying to resolve. The first set of issues relates to modalities of the peace conference. There's been a great deal of misunderstanding on this question, so let me simply lay out here what we have in mind. Our objective is to launch direct negotiations and that's what this process is all about. We believe the best way to do that is through a peace conference that would lead directly to bilateral negotiations between Israel and its Arab and Palestinian neighbours, and multilateral negotiations on issues such as arms control, regional security, the environment and water.

"Let me be very clear about one thing: We are not considering, and have not been considering, an international conference with a plenary that has the power or authority to impose its views or--nor are we considering any mechanism that would interfere in any way with negotiations.

"In fact, as I have told those in the region, the conference itself is not a forum for negotiations. Quite simply, it is a means to an end, it is a tool in our efforts to get the parties to sit down face to face to sort out their differences, and to break anachronistic taboos.

"This conference would be co-sponsored by the United States, and the Soviet Union, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestinians from the occupied territories would attend. As you know, the Gulf Cooperation Council has already taken a very important step and has agreed to send its Secretary-General as an observer. In addition to that, and very importantly I think each of the member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the six Gulf States, have announced that they will participate in the direct negotiations on multilateral issues.

"We also think the European Community could play a constructive role in support of this process and especially in the hard work of economic development that would follow a negotiated peace. The European Community should be able to participate somehow in this conference. Similarly, the United Nations should have some role. A formula ought to be found that is acceptable to all the parties, that prejudices none of the parties, and that channels the new-found potential of the United Nations in ways that can be helpful in promoting peace and reconciliation in the area. The exact nature of EC and United Nations involvement is still unresolved.

"Another open question is the ability of the conference to reconvene. The United States believes it should be able to do so if all the parties agree, in order to hear reports from the bilateral and multilateral negotiating groups.

"...

"The other set of issues deals with the question of Palestinian representation in the negotiations. From the beginning of this administration, we have made it clear that our objective is to get Israel and Palestinians from the occupied territories into negotiations. Of course, Palestinians must choose their own representatives, but our view is, and many of the other parties agree, that a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation could be a useful vehicle to get to the conference, as well as to handle any number of issues that might arise during the negotiations."7/




Statement of the PLO Executive Committee,
Tunis, 29-30 May 1991


The following are excerpts from the text of a statement issued by the Executive Committee of the PLO upon the conclusion of its session held at Tunis, on 29-30 May 1991:


"The PLO Executive Committee held a series of meetings on 29 and 30 May under the chairmanship of brother president Yasser Arafat. The committee discussed the results of the contacts by numerous Palestinian delegations in the recent period concerning the post-Gulf war political process in the area. The Executive Committee positively evaluated these meetings and the results they achieved for the purpose of providing the elements of progress and success for the political process and whatever is in harmony with the bases of international legitimacy and protecting national Palestinian and Arab interests.

"In this framework, the Executive Committee expressed its satisfaction with the results of the meeting of the Palestinian delegation under the leadership of brother president Yasser Arafat and Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh. The two sides agreed on the need for the peace conference to be based on the resolutions of international legitimacy and on the continuation of the role of this conference and its effectiveness to achieve the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab and Palestinian territories, including the Holy City of Jerusalem, and upholding the national political and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in accordance with international legitimacy.

"...

"The Executive Committee discussed the contacts with the brother officials in the Arab Republic of Egypt and their positive results which will contribute to providing the bases for formulating a joint Arab stand toward the proposed peace conference and the need to hold it on the basis of the resolutions of international legitimacy, and also agreement to continue coordination and consultation between the leadership of fraternal Egypt and the PLO leadership.

"The Executive Committee reviewed the recent important meetings which took place with His Majesty King Hussein and Jordanian officials, which consolidated the coordination and joint action for the benefit of the united aims. The Executive Committee expressed great appreciation for fraternal Jordan's stance and its commitment to the bases of Arab and international legitimacy concerning the political process and the proposed peace conference. The Executive Committee called for continuing this coordination to provide all the conditions necessary for reaching a just and permanent solution in the region in the interest of the Arab nation and the two fraternal Jordanian and Palestinian peoples.

"The Executive Committee discussed the results of the important visit paid by the Palestinian delegation headed by brother Abu al-Lutf [Faruq Qaddumi], chairman of the Political Department, to Damascus, and the meeting with President Hafez al-Assad and Syrian officials, and its positive results for developing joint coordination and consolidating ties and contacts between the frontline countries to secure the unity of the Arab stance and provide the elements of success for holding an international peace conference with an effective and continuous role based on international legitimacy and its resolutions under the auspices of the United Nations with the participation of all the sides of the conflict including the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

"The Executive Committee expressed its appreciation with the fraternal Syrian stance, and stressed the importance of continuing the consultation and coordination and developing relations with Syria to serve the national and pan-Arab aims during this stage in which the Arab situation is exposed to comprehensive dangers."8/


* * *


Notes


1/ Jerusalem Press, Daily Report from the Occupied Territories, Jerusalem Press Service, Washington, D.C., Vol. VI, No. 75, 2 May 1991, p. 4.

2/ Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Daily Report: Near East and South Asia, No. FBIS-NES-91-091, 10 May 1991, p. 15.

3/ Ibid., No. FBIS-NES-91-096, 17 May 1991, p. 25.

4/ Jerusalem Press, Daily Report from the Occupied Territories, Jerusalem Press Service, Washington, D.C., Vol. VI, No. 84, 15 May 1991, p. 7.

5/ Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Daily Report: Near East and South Asia, No. FBIS-NES-91-097, 20 May 1991, pp. 23-24.

6/ Ibid., No. FBIS-NES-91-100, 23 May 1991, pp. 46-47.

7/ Hearing of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Washington, D.C., 23 May 1991, pp. 10-1 - 12-1.

8/ Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Daily Report: Near East and South Asia, No. FBIS-NES-91-106, 3 June 1991, pp. 6-7.

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