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Levy Strikes Conciliatory Note Before U.N. General Assembly

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Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy used his address this week before the United Nations General Assembly to emphasize Israel’s “irreversible commitment and determination to pursue the path of peace.”

Levy, who spoke in French and received mild applause at the conclusion of his remarks Thursday, struck a more conciliatory posture than the one he had adopted prior to this week’s Washington summit.

The diplomat went on the offensive last weekend here when the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution criticizing Israel for the eruption of deadly violence after it opened a new entrance to a tunnel adjacent to Jerusalem’s holiest sites. The vote was 14-0, with the United States abstaining.

Levy returned to the United Nations from Washington still somewhat defensive.

He told the General Assembly on Thursday that the new government’s efforts to reach peace had continually been “minimized” and that its concern for security “is neither an obsession nor a blind belief.”

But his main thrust was to pledge his government’s intention to honor its accords with the Palestinians and its desire to reach real peace in the region.

Levy also praised President Clinton and the U.S. administration for efforts to safeguard the peace process and said Israel would abide by the principles enunciated by Clinton at the summit: the need for direct negotiations between parties and the renunciation of violence as a means of resolving conflict.

Levy also stated the “important role” of Syria in the process of regional normalization and called on Syrian President Hafez Assad to resume negotiations with Israel.

The foreign minister also called on the General Assembly to help Israel secure a place in a regional grouping, which it is currently denied. Such placement is a prerequisite to serving on key U.N. bodies, including a rotating seat on the Security Council.

The absence of a regional grouping, said Levy, deprives Israel of a right to participate with other nations “on an equal footing.”

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