Menu JTA Search

At the UN General Assembly: Shamir Says Israel Wants to Move the Peace Process Forward ‘without Dela

Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir told the United Nations Tuesday that “Israel remains anxious and willing to move the peace process forward without delay.”

In an address to the General Assembly, Shamir cited Israel’s 1979 peace treaty with Egypt which he said “was intended to be the first in a series of treaties that together would constitute a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict.”

He lashed out at “those who are afraid of peace, or are seeking to evade peace with Israel, are trying to promote an alternative to direct negotiations and, ultimately to peace itself by means of an international conference.

‘OUTSTRETCHED HAND OF PEACE’

Shamir observed pointedly that Egypt, the only Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, has benefitted by it. “With its commitment to the (Camp David) accords, Egypt has gained in its prestige and stature. Many of those in the Arab world who once attacked and boycotted it are now looking to Egypt to play a leading role in peace negotiations,” Shamir said.

APPEALS DIRECTLY TO HUSSEIN

He appealed directly to King Hussein of Jordan to enter peace talks with Israel. “We recognize that once it decides to respond to our call, Jordan may face considerable opposition from some Arab quarters. This opposition, however, will not be deflected or appeased by such devices as an international conference,” Shamir said.

“The first sign of a genuine willingness to move toward peace is a declared readiness to deal with one’s former adversary,” he observed.

With respect to Soviet participation in the Middle East peace process, the Israeli Foreign Minister reiterated past statements by himself and by Premier Shimon Peres that without the resumption of diplomatic relations with Israel and a major change of policy toward Soviet Jews, “it is difficult to see how the Soviet Union could contribute in any way to the attainment of peace in our region.”

He said, however, that he hoped the meeting between Israeli and Soviet representatives at Helsinki last month “is a sign of a positive change in the policy of the Soviet Union toward Israel.”

Shamir referred to substantial progress in Israel’s diplomatic relations with the Black African nations. “We extend the hand of friendship and cooperation to all African nations, and we expect many more countries to resume full diplomatic relations with Israel in the near future,” he said.

CLARIFIES ISRAEL’S POSITION TOWARD UNIFIL

Shamir also clarified Israel’s position toward the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), a subject of intense debate at the UN in recent weeks. “International forces are most effective when they serve as buffers between two states that share a commitment to pacify their common border. Unlike Israel’s neighbors on two other borders this is not the case with Lebanon,” Shamir said.

“This is why UNIFIL, unlike the multinational force in the Sinai and UNDOF in the Golan Heights, has been unable to act as an effective buffer from the day it was established by the UN. Peacekeepers cannot be asked to combat terrorists. That role must be left to the governments and the people in the area of turmoil. We shall continue to cooperate with UNIFIL, as we maintain the necessary security arrangements to defend our northern border.”

THE TERRORIST THREAT

Shamir devoted much of his address to the major threats facing Israel, the Middle East and the civilized world from terrorism, the escalation of the conventional arms race in the Middle East, the dangers of nuclear weapons and the problem of chemical warfare.

He said there is “considerable evidence” that Syria among other states in the Middle East, is “developing a chemical warfare capability… The most dramatic development has been the increased use of chemical weapons by Iraq in its war with Iran.”

Shamir also said Israel supported negotiations to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.

He denounced Arab terrorism and the Palestine Liberation Organization which he called “the linchpin of this alliance in terror.” The PLO “pioneered the art of hijacking, bombings, kidnappings and massacre on an international scale,” Shamir charged. “In the decade preceding 1982, the PLO used its mini-state in Lebanon to train and arm terrorist groups from five continents, from left-wing extremists to neo-Nazi gangs,” he said, while Libya, Syria and Iran trained and financed the terrorists and provided them with safe havens.

Shamir urged the member states of the General Assembly to go to the source of terrorism, the regimes that support and protect terrorists. “We must isolate and punish these terrorist states. We should shut down their embassies, expel their diplomats, curtail trade with them and coordinate a military response if they persist in attacking us,” Shamir said.

“Those who refuse to address the problem of state-sponsored terrorism are not merely failing to solve the problem; they are facilitating its expansion.”

A ‘SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE’

When Shamir began his address, delegates from every Arab country, with the exception of Egypt, left the Assembly hall. A representative from Jordan, described as a low-level delegate, remained for the duration of Shamir’s address.

The significant difference during this year’s address by an Israeli leader, according to a spokesman for the Israel Mission to the UN, was that a number of Soviet bloc and African countries had one or two low-level delegates present throughout the address.

The Soviet bloc countries represented included the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. African and Asian nations which do not have diplomatic relations with Israel but nevertheless had at least one delegate present during Shamir’s address included Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, Togo, Kenya, Gabon, Senegal and Sri Lanka.

At a press conference after addressing the Assembly, Shamir said that the most important meeting he had during his week in New York was with Secretary of State George Shultz. He said the two, who met Monday, discussed all aspects of economic and strategic cooperation between Israel and the U.S.

Shamir said that Shultz noted the impressive advances Israel has made on the economic front and advised Shamir to encourage the private sector to play a larger role in Israel’s economy. The two men agreed that Israel cannot afford to reduce defense spending.

Shamir is scheduled to return to Israel Tuesday night. He said his first order of business would be to begin preparing an agenda for his upcoming two-year tenure as Premier.

NEXT STORY