Assembly Reiterates Call for Middle East Peace Conference

Article excerpt

The General Assembly has called once again for the convening of an international peace conference on the Middle East, reaffirming its conviction that the question of Palestine is the core of the conflict in the region.

The world body adopted seven resolutions on 4 and 6 December, after separate debates on the situation in the Middle East and on the question of Palestine. It wanted the conference held under UN auspices, with the participation of all parties to the conflict, including the Palestine Liberation organization (PLO), on an equal footing, as well as the five permanent members of the Security Council.

The Security Council was asked to consider guarantees for security measures agreed upon by the conference for all States in the region.

On 16 November, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar reported (A/44/731-S/20968) that "sufficient agreement does not exist, either within the Security Council or among the parties to the conflict, to permit the convening" of that conference.

On 22 November, in another report (A/44/737-S/20971), he told the Assembly that valuable time is passing" in the Middle East and the willingness to negotiate that exists today may be eroded by bitterness resulting from events on the ground". He favoured a well coordinated international effort to help the parties enter into an effective negotiating process towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.

Mr. Perez de Cuellar also said he was greatly anguished by developments in Lebanon, and reaffirmed UN support for efforts to restore Lebanon's unity, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Peace is indivisible

In its resolutions, the Assembly declared that peace in the region was indivisible and must be based on a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Middle East problem. Such a solution, it stated, would ensure the unconditional withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories, and would enable the Palestinian people, under the leadership of the PLO, to exercise its inalienable rights, including the establishment of its independent sovereign state in Palestine.

States were called upon to end the flow to Israel of any military, economic, financial and technological aid.

Israel voted against all seven resolutions. The United States opposed six, abstaining on a text calling invalid and illegal Israel's decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem.

In other action, the Assembly declared that Israel's continued occupation of the Syrian Arab Golan Heights and its decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on it constituted an act of aggression. It asked for a suspension of any military or other assistance to Israel.

The Assembly also asked the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to implement the Programme of Action for Achievement of Palestinian Rights, adopted at the 1983 International Conference on the Question of Palestine.

On 6 December, after sponsors agreed not to insist on a vote, the Assembly deferred consideration of a draft text recommending that the status of Palestine be changed, in the UN, from that of an observer organization to that of an observer state. By the draft, the Assembly would have decided that the "designation Palestine shall be construed, within the United Nations, as the State of Palestine, without prejudice to the acquired rights of the Palestine Liberation Organizaton in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions and practice". In 1988, the General Assembly had acknowledged the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council and had decided the UN should refer to the PLO, which has observer status, as "Palestine" in future.

Palestinian rights

On 6 October, the Assembly condemned what it termed Israeli "persistent policies and practices" violating the human rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories. …