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Gromyko Issues Sharp Attack Against Palestinian Terrorists; Sights Munich Tragedy As Criminal Action

September 27, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The strongest condemnation of the Munich murders to date by a top ranking Soviet official at an international forum was delivered by Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko in his address before the 27th session of the United Nations General Assembly this morning.

In the course of expounding his country’s views on the Middle East conflict, Gromyko reiterated the Soviet Union’s support for “the Arab peoples of Palestine” but added, “at the same time it is certainly impossible to condone the acts of terrorism committed by certain elements from among the participants in the Palestinian movement which have led, notably, to the recent tragic events in Munich. Their criminal actions deal a blow also at the national interests and aspirations of the Palestinians.”

Gromyko’s remarks referred to the slaying of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes by Arab terrorists at Munich Sept. 5. But he also appeared to be referring to Arab terrorist assaults on Israeli diplomats abroad by letter bombs and attacks on airports and airliners when he said, “The Soviet Union, from positions of principle, opposes acts of terrorism which disrupt the diplomatic activity of states and their representatives, transport ties between them and the normal course of international contacts and meetings; it opposes acts of violence which serve no positive ends and cause loss of human life.”

Gromyko made no reference whatsoever in his address to the problem of Soviet Jews or to the issue of the excessive visa fees demanded by Soviet authorities from educated Jews who wish to emigrate. While Gromyko spoke, demonstrations against the “ransom” fees were staged outside the UN and at the US Mission. (See separate story).


Gromyko’s remarks were easily the sharpest slap at Arab terrorism delivered by a Soviet spokesman at this or previous sessions of the UN. They seemed to deviate in fact from the line taken by the Soviet UN Ambassador Yacov Malik two weeks ago when he successfully led an effort to expunge all references to the Munich tragedy and other terrorist provocations from a Security Council resolution demanding a halt to military operations in the Middle East which were a direct outcome of the Munich killings. The US vetoed the resolution because it failed to mention Munich as a background to Israeli attacks on terrorist bases in Syria and Lebanon.

Only yesterday the USSR strongly supported Arab efforts to deny priority status to the issue of terrorism on the agenda of the General Assembly’s Sixth (Legal) Committee to which the matter has been referred. In his remarks today, Gromyko alleged that terrorist acts “are used by the Israeli criminals in order to cover up their bandit-like policy against the Arab peoples.”

At another point in his lengthy address, the Soviet Foreign Minister appeared to justify terrorism in pursuit of political objectives. “No one can challenge the inalienable rights of states and peoples subjected to aggression to rebuff it by employing all possible means so long as the aggressor continues to use force to encroach upon their freedom and sovereignty, so long as he tries to retain control over the forcibly seized territory,” Gromyko said, citing as examples Indochina and the Middle East.

“Who indeed could venture to contest the incontestable fact that crude force has been and is being used against both the peoples of Indochina and the Arab states, and that they are entitled to use all the necessary means to rebuff the aggressor.”


Gromyko dwelt at some length on the Middle East conflict, charging “new criminal acts of aggression by Israel against the Arab countries, including Lebanon.” He said “The responsibility which rests with the aggressors is shared with them by all those who patronize them.” He said, “Attempts to appropriate Arab lands, and continuous aggressive military actions cannot be tolerated. The United Nations is endowed with the necessary rights and possibilities to put the aggressor in his place.”

Asserting that “A solution must be found for the problems of the Middle East,” Gromyko said that “only a lasting and just settlement…in accordance with the known decisions of the UN can guarantee peace and security to all states–and we declare once again, to all states of the region. Israeli troops must be withdrawn from all the Arab territories occupied in 1967.”

Earlier in his address, the Soviet Foreign Minister welcomed the “broadening of cooperation” between the USSR and the United States but declared that the “responsibility” for Israeli “aggression” rested with both Israel and the nations that support her. But, he added, “as a result of the Soviet-American summit talks in Moscow last May, a start has been made in the process of reshaping relations between the Soviet Union and the US.” He cited also “the high level” of cooperation reached between the USSR and France.

Britain’s Foreign Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home is scheduled to address the General Assembly tomorrow. Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban is due to address the Assembly Thursday afternoon, and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Hassan el-Zayyat is tentatively scheduled to speak Oct. 5.

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