Blum Addresses the General Assembly: Urges Arabs to Turn a New Leaf and Live in Peace with Israel

Israel called on the Arabs today to turn a new leaf and live side-by-side in peace with Israel. “The government of Israel is prepared today, as it has always been, to negotiate with the neighboring Arab states an equitable solution to the Arab-Israel conflict,” Yehuda Blum, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, declared in a major foreign policy address to the 38th General Assembly.

Noting that in 35 years of war and bloodshed in the Middle East, no problem has been solved, Blum asked the Arabs: “Are we better off as a result of so many years of conflict than we would have been had our nations lived side-by-side in peace? Could not the billions squandered on arms procurements have been put to better use in solving urgent domestic problems such as poverty, hunger, illiteracy and the widening social gap between rich and poor?” he asked.

In his 19-page speech, Blum said that Israel stands for the full restoration of Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence and accused Syria of trying to frustrate that goal directly and through its proxies.

“Israel believes that in order to enable the attainment of that goal, all foreign forces must withdraw from that country. Alongside these objectives, and bearing in mind the experiences of recent years, Israel’s legitimate security needs must be guaranteed and Lebanese territory must never be used again for attacks upon our citizens,” the Israeli envoy said.

WELCOMES CEASE-FIRE IN LEBANON

He said Israel welcomes the cease-fire recently achieved in Lebanon and added, “We are following the situation closely and are looking forward to the establishment of conditions which will insure security and tranquility along the Israel-Lebanon border.”

He warned, “Under no circumstances will Israel agree to return to the state of affairs which prevailed until 16 months ago, when Lebanese territory was used as a base for terrorist operations against our citizens. Israel sincerely hopes and wishes to see an independent Lebanon in which a strong and stable regime exercises control throughout the country.”

ENVOY DENOUNCES SYRIA

But Blum strongly attacked Syria which, he charged, has broadened its involvement in Lebanon and is engaged in a direct war against the government of that country. “President (Hafez) Assad (of Syria) — backed diplomatically and militarily by the Soviet Union and assisted by Palestinian terrorists — continues his ruthless operations to keep Lebanon in disarray in an attempt to force Lebanon to submit to Syrian domination,” Blum charged.

He added that, “resorting to its well known tactics of threats and extortion, Syria continues to undermine Lebanon’s path to regaining its sovereignty. This is pursued by Syria directly and by proxy and its uninhibited brutality stops short of nothing.”

Referring to the overall conflict in the Middle East, Blum reiterated Israel’s contention that “the essence of the conflict has always been and remains the persistent enmity of the Arab states toward the Jewish national rennaisance.”

He maintained that Arab enmity toward Israel “has been demonstrated very clearly in the case of the terrorist organization known as the PLO … that grouping of rival terrorist factions has always depended on the continued support of the Arab states and their allies for its existence,” Blum said.

Blum charged that the PLO objective is to destroy the State of Israel. He accused it of perpetrating “bloody atrocities which have struck at all, Jews and non-Jews, young and old, men, women and children.”

OTHER MAJOR POINTS RAISED

In the course of his speech, Blum referred to the following points:

* Nuclear weapons: He said that Israel continues to support the establishment in the Middle East of a nuclear weapons-free zone. It is clear that only free and direct negotiations between all Middle East states can insure real progress toward the conclusion of a convention (on a nuclear-free zone) which will establish a system of mutually binding obligations on all states in the region,” he said.

* Soviet Jews: Blum accused the Soviet Union of continued harassment against Soviet Jews. He said Jews in the Soviet Union “are being systematically denied the basic human right to emigrate and to reunite with their families in Israel.” He charged that as the gates of emigration have been nearly shut in the Soviet Union, officially inspired anti-Semitism is on the rise there.

* Economic cooperation: Blum said Israel is willing, within the means at its disposal, to make its contribution to the advancement of international economic cooperation.

Many seats in the General Assembly hall were empty when the Israeli envoy rose to speak. Most were seats occupied by Arab delegations who make it a practice of leaving whenever an Israeli diplomat addresses the world body. The sole exceptions were the Egyptian and Lebanese delegates who remained in the hall while Blum spoke.

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