UNITED NATIONS (Sep. 29)
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres spoke out strongly at the General Assembly Tuesday for an international conference for Middle East peace. He devoted much of his speech to detailing, publicly for the first time, the eight points he said were agreed to by Israel and Jordan five months ago on the objectives of such a conference and how it would be organized.
Peres, in his address to the 42nd session of the Assembly, also appealed to the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, both permanent members of the UN Security Council which would sponsor the international conference, to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
“Those wishing to participate in bringing peace cannot confine their relations to one side of the rivalry alone,” he declared.
Peres also extended a hand of peace to the Palestinian people, assuring them that “We who have experienced other’s domination do not wish to dominate others. We who sought justice and security do not wish to deny them to others.”
The Israeli Foreign Minister acknowledged in his speech that an international conference is opposed “in some Israeli quarters” and “the Israeli Cabinet is divided on the issue.”
Peres told the General Assembly that never before were the moderate forces of the Middle East, on both sides of the Arab-Israel conflict, closer to an understanding than today. He warned, however, that the next few months may be crucial for the peace process and in the absence of progress the region could face “political paralysis.”
THE EIGHT-POINT AGREEMENT
He listed the eight points of the agreement reached between Jordan and Israel with the good offices of the United States.
The goal is peace through direct negotiations.
An international conference is the way to direct negotiations.
The conference will not impose any settlement.
All parties to the conference must accept UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and renounce terrorism.
Negotiations are to solve the Palestinian problem in all its aspects through negotiations between the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation, and the Israeli delegation.
Negotiations will be conducted independently in three bilateral/geographic committees: a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation and an Israeli delegation; Syrian and Israeli delegations; Lebanese and Israeli delegations. All delegations, as well as an Egyptian delegation will participate in a fourth multi-lateral committee.
The bilateral committees will be engaged in solving the conflicts of the past while the multi-lateral committee would deal with future settlements.
The international peace conference will be sponsored by the five permanent members of the Security Council who will be entrusted with bringing the parties together and legitimizing the process.
APPEALS TO USSR. CHINA, PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
In his appeal to the USSR and China, both strong supporters of the Arab cause, Peres said that to establish diplomatic relations with Israel was a way to advance the cause of an international peace conference.
“To both Moscow and Beijing, we say candidly: diplomatic relations are not the price for peace but a channel for communications,” Peres declared.
Peres also appealed directly to the Palestinian people. “The time for recrimination and blame is past. These have brought only violence and terror. Now is the time to turn from violence to dialogue and travel jointly toward a different destiny. There, your children like ours will live in self-respect, exercise self-expression and enjoy freedom and peace,” the Israeli Foreign Minister said.
He concluded by saying he welcomed the visit of Secretary of State George Shultz to the Middle East next month as “an opportunity to negotiate the remaining obstacles” to a peace conference. He noted that the Israeli government has yet to make its decision on the issue and much depends on the nature of the conference.
Unless the present members of the Security Council respect the current consensus–rather than insist on their old preferences–the international conference will remain “just a slogan,” Peres said.