Menu JTA Search

Muskie Denounces UN Assembly Resolution As One-sided and As an Impediment to Mideast Peace

Secretary of State Edmund Muskie said today that the United Nations General Assembly resolution against Israel which was adopted yesterday by a vote of 112-7 with 24 abstentions was “one-sided” and that it “will not bring us any closer to peace. He also said that the European Economic Community’s (EEC) “exploratory mission” to the Middle East headed by Gaston Thom, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister and the current chairman of the EEC. would be “most constructive if it builds on the ongoing negotiations” within the Camp David process.

The Secretary of State also indirectly criticized Israel by saying that “all the parties must avoid unilateral actions designed to prejudge the outcome of the negotiations or that would have the effect of worsening the atmosphere for successful negotiations. “Muskie made these comments before the House Foreign Affairs Committee for a review of world affairs.

He said that he expected the heads of the delegations of Egypt, the United States and Israel to meet again toward the middle of August on the autonomy negotiations. In this connection, he said that an agreement on autonomy must take full account of Israel’s security needs and “must also lead to a significant and genuine change in the situation of the Palestinians.”


Focussing on the UN Assembly resolution, Muskie told the Committee:

“In seeking to advance real negotiating opportunities, we will be firm in our stand against one-sided resolutions on the Middle East at the United Nations, such as the one just put forward at the special session of the General Assembly. That resolution was totally unbalanced. It did not acknowledge Resolution 242 as a basis for a peace settlement. It did not recognize Israel’s right to exist. We voted against it and were pleased that a substantial number of other members felt they could not support the resolutions. Such efforts will not bring us any closer to peace.

“Another principle clearly applies to our negotiating effort. It is this: while negotiations are being pursued, all of the parties must avoid unilateral actions designed to prejudge the outcome of the negotiations or that would have the effect of worsening the atmosphere for successful negotiations. No negotiations can succeed if one of the parties at the table attempts simultaneously to gain unilateral advantage on the ground.

“If the parties should fail, or if the Camp David process should be derailed by misguided intervention, the consequences could be serious indeed, for the interests of the entire world are deeply engaged in the Middle East. Continuing conflicts in the region threaten those interests; threaten the future of our friends in the region; threaten intervention by outside powers–and threaten the peace of the world.”


Under questioning by the Committee, Muskie told Rep. Clement Zablocki (D. Wisc.), the Committee chairman, that “almost every week” the United States has to deal with resolutions brought up on the Middle East that he said were “mischief making” and a diversionary tactic that “solved nothing, like the one yesterday.”

Muskie added, “So I dismiss these resolutions, and the fact that they settle nothing entered into the decision” of the West European countries to abstain in yesterday’s vote. He said that the “rationale” in abstaining was that the Europeans wanted to be “even-handed” in “seeking to be a middleman” on the Mideast problem.

Muskie told Rep. William Broomfield (R.Mich.), the ranking minority member of the Committee, that “I regret” that UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim “said as much as he did” when he told the Arab League last Friday that he supported Palestinian statehood. Muskie added that actions in the UN “contribute to unrest” on the West Bank. He also chided the press for emphasizing in the current autonomy talks factors of opposition between Israel and Egypt rather than the progress being made. He said yesterday’s UN resolution “could have a deteriorating affect on the autonomy negotiations.”

Answering questions about the peace talks, Muskie said the base of the negotiations would have to be broadened. He said the “Palestinian people obviously, have to be involved.” But he explicitly ruled out the Palestine Liberation Organization. He told Rep. Lester Wolff. (D. NY), who asked if there has been any change either by the State Department or the Carter Administration on the U.S. position towards the PLO, “none whatsoever as long as they (PLO) are committed to the destruction of Israel, there is no place for them in the negotiations.”