UNITED NATIONS (Oct. 4)
President Carter declared before the UN General Assembly this morning that the United States does “not intend to impose from the outside a settlement on the nations of the Middle East.” He asserted that “the commitment of the U.S. to Israel’s security is unquestionable” but he also reiterated that “the legitimate rights of the Palestinians must be recognized.”
The President, emphasizing the “menace” of the Middle East conflict, declared that “peace embodied in binding treaties is essential.” He said that “Israel and the Arab countries have a right to exist in peace, with early establishment of normal diplomatic relations, economic and cultural exchanges.” He spoke of Israel’s right to “borders that are recognized and secure.”
Carter’s remarks were viewed as an effort to allay fears in Israel, provoked by the U.S.-Soviet joint declaration of Oct. I, that the U.S. was moving toward an imposed settlement of the Middle East conflict along lines favorable to the Arabs. In his speech, the President noted that “the United Nations Security Council has provided the basis for peace in Resolutions 242 and 338,” adding that “negotiations in good faith by all parties is needed to give substance to peace.”
One of Israel’s criticisms of the U.S.-Soviet statement was its failure to mention the two basic Security Council resolutions on the Mideast. The President also reiterated, as the joint statement indicated, that “the Soviet Union and the United States have agreed to call for the resumption of the Geneva conference before the end of this year.”
Carter arrived here this morning amid heavy security precautions. Hundreds of police surrounded UN headquarters and police helicopters hovered in the flawless autumn sky around the cluster of buildings housing the world organization. The text of the President’s speech covered only six pages of which barely one was devoted to the Middle East. However, the President stressed the gravity of the conflict there.
NOTES GRAVITY OF MIDEAST CONFLICT
“Of all the regional conflicts in the world, none holds more menace than the Middle East,” he said, noting that “War there has carried the world to the edge of nuclear confrontation…has disrupted the world economy and imposed severe hardships on the people in the developed and developing nations alike.”
The bulk of Carter’s speech was devoted to the need for nuclear disarmament. It was interrupted by applause only once–when the President pledged that the U.S. would never use nuclear weapons unless itself or one of its allies was attacked with such weapons. Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Chaim Herzog, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, were both in the Assembly hall listening to the President although Israel’s UN Mission was officially closed today because of Succoth.
Carter, in his speech, stated that the U.S. “has been meeting with the foreign ministers of Israel and the Arab nations involved in the search for peace.” He noted that “while a number of procedural questions remain, if the parties continue to act in good faith, I believe they can be answered.”
Carter was scheduled to meet separately with Dayan and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy this afternoon and the President and Dayan are due to meet again tomorrow afternoon in New York. Dayan had a two-and-a-half hour dinner meeting with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance here last night but refused to talk to reporters as he left Vance’s hotel. Earlier, Dayan sharply criticized the U.S.-Soviet joint declaration. He said it was “a bad agreement” that represented a shift in U.S. policy in its reference to the “legitimate rights” of the Palestinians.
At a briefing with reporters here after Carter’s address, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s National Security Advisor, was asked what are the legitimate rights of the Palestinians to which Carter referred in his speech earlier. Brzezinski answered that the “legitimate rights” of the Palestinians will be defined at the Geneva peace conference.