UNITED NATIONS (Oct. 1)
Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy warned the General Assembly on Monday that the Jewish state adamantly refuses to pay the price for international appeasement of Saddam Hussein.
“The Iraqi ruler cocks a gun at Israel’s head, demanding to extricate himself from the wrath of international law,” Levy said in an address to the General Assembly.
“The free world should know that Israel will not sacrifice its security as the price of United Nations decisions aimed at safeguarding their economic well-being and freedom. Israel will know how to defend itself if attacked, and its response will be harsh and painful,” he vowed.
The Israeli foreign minister described the Iraqi president as a “megalomaniac dictator” and an “unrestrained ruler” who has “already proven to the world his willingness to employ lethal chemical weapons, using them against thousands of Kurds, his own countrymen.”
President Bush, who addressed the General Assembly immediately before Levy, used milder language, but also detailed Hussein’s “genocidal, poison gas war” against its Kurdish citizens.
“Iraq’s unprovoked aggression” against Kuwait is “a throwback to another era, a dark relic from a dark time,” the president said. He called for an unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
Bush said such a withdrawal could create “opportunities” in the Middle East, including the opportunity for “all the states and peoples of the region to settle the conflict that divides the Arabs from Israel.”
A SUGGESTION OF LINKAGE?
There were suggestions Monday that by mentioning the Arab-Israeli conflict, Bush was moving toward some sort of indirect linkage between resolution of the Persian Gulf crisis and the Palestinian issue.
But Yuval Rotem, spokesman for the Israeli Mission here, rejected that interpretation, saying his government did not perceive any policy change in Bush’s remarks.
“It is not our impression” that Bush was linking the resolution of the two conflicts in any manner, he said.
Rotem said that Israeli policy is in line with American policy for bringing about peace in the Middle East. He said that both governments believe that the Gulf crisis must be solved first; only afterward, can other conflicts be addressed.
In his General Assembly speech, Levy openly challenged the Arab states to pursue peace with Israel.
He stressed the core component of the current Israeli government’s approach to the peace process: that any settlement with the Arab nations is a precondition to accommodation with the Palestinians.
“First and foremost,” the foreign minister said, “the states of the region should proclaim forthwith the termination of the state of war.”
He said the “willingness on the part of Arab states to foreswear the state of war” would “help also in advancing the solution of the Palestinian problem.”
He spoke of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s peace initiative of May 1989 and said the biggest obstacle in its path is the terrorist activities of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
He added, however, that “our war against terrorism and rejection of its perpetrators as partners and interlocutors should by no means debar the peaceful forces among the Palestinians from joining us forthwith in talks to further the peace initiative, as we have proposed.”
Levy touched on the historic mass immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel and the thawing of the Eastern bloc. He praised Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, calling him “a bold and sagacious statesman, a leader who has instituted a dramatic transformation in his country, which is tearing down in its wake barriers of hostility between nations.”
During Levy’s speech to the international body, a number of delegates from Arab and Moslem nations left the assembly hall, including representatives of Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which has observer status. Of the Arab states, only the representatives of Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan remained in the hall.