THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
QUESTION OF PALESTINE
REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE
TO INVESTIGATE ISRAELI PRACTICES
AFFECTING THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE
PALESTINIAN PEOPLE AND OTHER ARABS
OF THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
Letter dated 13 February 1990 from the Permanent Representative
of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to the United Nations
addressed to the Secretary-General
I have the honor to transmit herewith the text of a statement issued on 12 February 1990 at the Press Center of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics by the First Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Y. M. Vorontsov.
I should be grateful if you would have this text circulated as an official document of the General Assembly, under the items entitled "The situation in the Middle East", "Question of Palestine" and "Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories", and of the Security Council.
Statement dated 12 February 1990 issued by the First Vice-Minister
of Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
In the wake of the many statements we have issued and our numerous contacts with Israel, with the United States and with the Arab countries, we have reached the conclusion that Israel's acts aimed at settling persons who have never lived there in the occupied territories constitute a serious problem which touches upon questions of security in the Middle East. In this connection, the Soviet Government has decided – and our representative has been so instructed – to bring the matter of reviewing Israel's illegal acts in populating the occupied territories before the Security Council. We hope that this matter will be considered in the Security Council with all due seriousness.
Before raising this matter with the Security Council, we had received a clarification from the Israeli Government in response to our remonstrations, to the effect that that Government was not forcing anyone to settle in the occupied territories, and that every immigrant arriving in Israel was free, as was any Israeli citizen, to choose to reside where he desired. This attitude on the part of the Israeli side makes it clear to us that the Israeli Government is knowingly violating the provisions of the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which Israel, too, has signed. Israel's position also violates United Nations resolutions which call upon the Israeli Government to end its practice of colonizing the occupied territories. The international community must not tolerate such violations.
Appeals are sometimes made to the Soviet Union not to allow persons of Jewish nationality who leave the Soviet Union to settle in the occupied territories. Such requests ought naturally to be directed to the Israeli Government. And that is why we are bringing the question before the Security Council for consideration.
It is also said that the Soviet Union must take resolute measures to prevent Soviet Jews from settling in Israel. That is impossible. At present, we are undertaking a major democratization of Soviet legislation, particularly as regards exit from the country. The Supreme Soviet of the USSR is considering a bill on the exit and entry of citizens designed to conform with international practice. The norms contained therein correspond to those in force in other countries of the world, and there is nothing that would justify a revision of this bill. We anticipate its adoption in the near future and we are taking as our basic assumption the principle that this law shall apply to all Soviet citizens and not merely to persons of Jewish nationality.
Restrictions can exist only within the framework of the legal norms which are in force in other countries and are recognized by international law, i.e. those pertaining to national security and the obligations of citizens who leave their country vis-à-vis other citizens. Our legislation will be consistent with international practice, particularly that followed in Arab countries, where there are likewise no exit restrictions.
The issue of settling additional people in the territories occupied by Israel must not be construed to mean that the Soviet Union should take preventive measures. The fact of the matter is that Israel must not settle its own or other citizens in the occupied territories. This responsibility lies With Israel, which is violating the relevant provisions of international law.
We intend to state this position in the United Nations before the Security Council, which must, under the present circumstances, take a decision on the basis of three considerations.
Firstly: the applicability of the fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to the Palestinians and other Arabs in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, must be upheld. Secondly: The Israeli Government must not be encouraged in its intent to settle immigrants in the occupied territories, an action that is contrary to the provisions of the fourth Geneva Convention, particularly article 49, which prohibits the settlement in occupied territories of a non-indigenous population. Thirdly: an appeal must be addressed to the Israeli Government not to allow anything to occur which might modify the demographic structure of the occupied territories. We hope that the Israeli Government will implement the resolution which the Security Council will draft to this end.
We have held consultations with the Government of the United States of America regarding claims that, since the autumn of 1989 that country has reduced the number of entry visas issued to persons of Jewish nationality coming from the Soviet Union. We have received assurances from the United States that that, practice is in no way related to Israel's decision, and especially to Prime Minister Shamir's famous statements regarding "the great aliyah" towards Israel, and that the United States is still accepting in its territory persons of Jewish nationality who have emigrated from the Soviet Union, although it is impossible for the Americans to speed up this process for a number of reasons. As a result, there are long lines forming – perhaps with Israel's approval – of persons who thought they would be able to enter the United States. The United States categorically denies the existence of any collusion with Israel and maintains that only technicalities are holding up the review of applications from Soviet emigrants wishing to enter the United States.
It seems to us that, given Israel's current policy, the United States should not delay in admitting immigrants from the Soviet Union.
Moreover, we cannot fail to note that the United States has condemned Israel's current practice regarding settlements in the occupied territories. On this point, our positions are in full agreement. We have proposed that it should be condemned by both of us; however, the United States does not yet seem ready to do this.
During our meetings in Moscow, J. Baker was also informed of our intention to bring this matter before the Security Council. The United States Secretary of State promised to consider our views on the question. We are counting on the support of the United States in the Security Council.
We have also drawn attention to the clear position of the European States and the European communities which have unequivocally condemned Israel's policy and demanded that it be ended.
In view also of the position of the Arab States, we believe that a consensus has virtually been reached within the United Nations as to the illegality of Israel's acts, and we very much hope that our efforts within the Organization will have the desired outcome.