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Herzog Calls on Arab Countries to Sit Down and Talk with Israel

October 18, 1976
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Israeli Ambassador Chaim Herzog called on the Arab countries to “sit down and talk” with Israel, as other adversaries do. “Has the Mideast not bled enough?” he asked in his right of reply at the conclusion of the General Assembly debate Thursday night. “Do the speeches we heard (at the Assembly) constitute any kind of progress towards peace? Has the time not come for a change of heart and approach?”

Referring to statements about Israel made by Arab delegates during the course of the debate, Herzog declared: “Some of the statements ranged from the most extreme expressions of hatred to the utterly ludicrous. Many of them ignored the massive blood-letting in the internecine struggle of Arab against Arab in so many centers of conflict in the Mideast, most of them far removed from Israel and completely unrelated to the Israel-Arab conflict.”


Focussing on statements by the Syrian Ambassador, Herzog said: “The vehemence of his attacks on Israel in the General Assembly must be in direct proportion to the number of Arabs being killed by the Syrian forces in Lebanon.” The Israeli diplomat noted that the Arabs did not show any wish for compromise or accommodation with Israel and the word “negotiation” is “taboo” as far as the Arabs are concerned.

Earlier, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy, in a speech delivered for him by Egyptian UN Ambassador Abdel Meguid, declared that his country was “receptive to all serious attempts seeking a just and durable peace in the Middle East” and repeated Egypt’s call for resumption of the Geneva conference insisting at the same time that all concerned parties must participate, including the Palestine Liberation Organization.

This was one of the few references by an Arab leader to the PLO at this year’s Assembly debate. Last week’s speech by Syrian Ambassador Mowaffak Allaf which omitted any reference to the PLO was viewed by observers here as an indication of the precipitate decline of the terrorist 1st group’s prestige and influence in the Arab world as a result of the fighting in Lebanon.


A surprise move came Thursday night when Ambassador Edouard Ghorra, a Lebanese Christian who represents the Syrian-supported government of President Elias Sarkis, denounced the role of the Palestinians in the Lebanese civil war. In a sharply worded speech, Ghorra accused the Palestinians and their supporters in the Arab countries of being responsible for the continuing bloodshed and agony of Lebanon.

“The world has been baffled by the intensity of the fighting, the passions it has aroused, the large number of casualties and the extent of destruction” which were the result of the Palestinians’ interference, Ghorra said in what was described here as the most devastating attack on the PLO in this year’s Assembly by any member state, including Israel. The PLO was not permitted to take the floor to answer Ghorra’s charges.

“It is deplorable that those who have been victims of a gross injustice are inflicting an injustice of such inhumane proportion on Lebanon and its people.” Ghorra said, adding: “All this cannot be justified by any objective of the Palestinian revolution, nor by any principle of morality and brotherhood.”

Condemning the “assaults perpetrated by the Palestinian organization against the sovereignty of Lebanon and the security of its people.” Ghorra accused the Palestinians of numerous crimes including kidnapping and torture. He said the Palestinians acted as if they were a state within a state in Lebanon “and flagrantly defied the law of the land and the hospitality of its people.” The Lebanese Ambassador also charged that the PLO’s ultimate objective is the partition of Lebanon.


Fahmy, who preceded Ghorra, termed the present Mideast situation a danger to peace and warned that the world was engaged in a race against time, the outcome of which would be either peace or an all-out “war of liberation” to recover “the national rights of the Palestinian people.”

Fahmy stressed that a Middle East peace settlement required Israel’s withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories and the restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. including their right-to an independent state.

He accused Israel of remaining an aggressor in quest of expansion at the expense of its Arab neighbors and the Palestinians. He said that was the only interpretation that could be put on Israel’s persistence in establishing settlements in occupied Arab territories and its annexation and “Judaization” of Jerusalem, all in violation of General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.

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