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Joint U.S.-Soviet Statement of the Middle East

(October 1, 1977)

On October 1, 1977, the United States and the Soviet Union issued a joint declaration calling for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories capture in the 1967 War: resolution of the Palestinian issue in a way that would assure “the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people;” establishment of demilitarized zones with UN peacekeeping forces, termination of the state of war and “establishment of normal peaceful relations.” It also expressed a willingness by the United States and the Soviet Union to participate in possible international guarantees of new borders.

Israel rejected the resolution with Finance Minister Simcha Erlich highlighting three issues that it would never accept: The hint of an imposed solution, establishment of a Palestinian state and recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

President Carter was hoping the Soviets would help support his plan to convene an international conference in Geneva to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, however, saw the conference as a trap that would give the other Arab states a veto to prevent him from reaching an agreement with Israel for the return of the Sinai in return for peace. Egypt and Israel were already secretly negotiating and this communique reinforced Sadat’s view that he was better off speaking directly to the Israelis.

Having exchanged views regarding the unsafe situation which remains in the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Member of the Politbureau of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the USSR A. A. Gromyko have the following statement to make on behalf of their countries, which are co-chairmen of the Geneva Peace Conference on the Middle East;

1. Both governments are convinced that vital interest of the peoples of this area, as well as the interests of strengthening peace and international security in general, urgently dictate the necessity of achieving, as soon as possible, a just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This settlement should be comprehensive, incorporating all parties concerned and all questions.

The United States and the Soviet Union believe that, within the framework of a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East problem, all specific questions of the settlement should be resolved, including such key issues as withdrawal of Israeli Armed Forces from territories occupied in the 1967 conflict; the resolution of the Palestinian question, including insuring the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people; termination of the state of war; and establishment of normal peaceful relations on the basis of mutual recognition of the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence.

The two governments believe that, in addition to such measures for insuring the security of the borders between Israel and the neighboring Arab states as the establishment of demilitarized zones and the agreed stationing in them of UN troops or observers, international guarantees of such borders as well as the observance of the terms of the settlement can also be established should the contracting parties so desire. The United States and the Soviet Union are ready to participate in these guarantees subject to their constitutional processes.

2. The United States and the Soviet Union believe that the only right and effective way for achieving a fundamental solution to all aspects of the Middle East problem in its entirety is negotiations within the framework of the Geneva Peace Conference, specially convened for these purposes, with participation in its work of the representatives of all parties involved in the conflict, including those of the Palestinian people, and legal and contractual formalization of the decisions reached at the Conference.

In their capacity as co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference, the United States and the USSR affirm their intention, through joint efforts and in their contacts with the parties concerned, to facilitate in every way the resumption of the work of the Conference not later than December 1977. The co-chairmen note that there still exist several questions of a procedural and organizational nature which remain to be agreed upon by the participants to the Conference.

3. Guided by the goal of achieving a just political settlement in the Middle East and of eliminating the explosive situation in this area of the world, the United States and the USSR appeal to all parties in the conflict to understand the necessity for careful consideration of each other’s legitimate rights and interests and to demonstrate mutual readiness to act accordingly.

Sources: “Text of Soviet-American Statement on the Mideast,” New York Times, (October 2, 1947);
H.D.S. Greenway, “Israel Condemns U.S. - Soviet Stand As ‘Unacceptable,’” Washington Post, (October 3, 1977).