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The Nine-Point Peace Plan, statement to the General Assembly by Foreign Minister Eban

(October 8, 1968)

After reviewing the many Israeli proposals submitted to Egypt and Jordan through Ambassador Jarring, Foreign Minister Eban noted that there had been no specific and positive response from either Government. He then proclaimed nine principles which Israel considered essential for peace in the Middle East. Excerpts:

Mr. President, my Government has decided to give the members of the United Nations a detailed account of its views on the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Amidst the tumult of a rancorous public debate, the deeper motives of our policy have not always been clearly perceived. A structure of peace cannot, of course, be built by speeches at this rostrum. It may, however, be useful for the parties to clarify their intentions and to draw a picture of their policies beyond the routine vocabulary in which this discussion has been held down for sixteen months.

In the interest of peace, I shall refrain from detailed comment on the polemical observations made here by Foreign Ministers of Arab States. The total and unblemished self-satisfaction with which these Ministers have spoken, the complete absence in their worlds of any self-criticism or innovation, the lack of detailed and organized comment on concrete issues - all these illustrate the inhibition which still prevents Arab Governments from thinking lucid and constructive thoughts about their relations with Israel. Indeed, the Foreign Minister of Sudan actually recommended that Israel be dismantled and its people dispersed. Here we have the oldest and most tenacious link in all human history between a people and a land. And an Arab leader speaks of Israel as though it were a temporary international exhibition to be folded up and taken away! Such intellectual frivolity and self-delusion are not heard on any other international issue.

Israel cannot easily forget the immense loss and burden which it has borne through the implacable hostility directed against it for twenty years, culminating in the unforgettable summer of 1967. For there has not been a Six-Day War. There has been a twenty-year war conducted by the Arab States in varying degrees of intensity with the candid hope of Israel's ruin and destruction. The issue is whether this war is now going to be ended by a final peace or merely interrupted in order to be resumed in conditions more propitious for Arab success.

Our danger in 1967 was the climax and not the whole story of our predicament. No other people has had to live all its days with a mark of interrogation hanging over its collective and individual survival. And behind Israel's quest for secure life, there is a particular and hideous legacy of wholesale death in the European slaughterhouse. In May 1967, we found ourselves beset by deadly peril which we faced in utter solitude of action and responsibility. Maritime blockade, murderous incursions, military encirclement, declarations of overt war, a frenzied torrent of violent threats and a formal announcement by President Nasser that the battle was joined for Israel's extinction, all came together in cumulative assault on Israel's life and security.

All the acts which fall under the widely supported definitions of aggression were simultaneously concerted against us. The universal conscience was deeply stirred. Millions across the world trembled for Israel's fate. The memory of those dark days broods over Israel's life. Our nation still lives intimately with the dangers which then confronted us. We still recall how the imminent extinction of Israel's statehood and the massacre of its population were seriously discussed across the world: in wild intoxication of spirit in Arab capitals, and with deep, but impotent, sorrow in other lands. To prevent the renewal of those dangers is the first law of our policy. The gravest danger is lest, through a lassitude of spirit, or imprecision of diplomatic craftsmanship, or collapse of patience, we again revert to fragile, false and ambiguous solutions which carry within them the seed of future wars. Those of us who bear responsibility for our nations's survival and our children's lives cannot have anything to do with vague solutions which fall short of authentic and lasting peace. June 1967 must be the last of the Middle Eastern wars.

This resolve has moved our policy at every stage of the political discussion from the outbreak of hostilities to this very day.

In June and July 1967, the General Assembly rejected all proposals which sought to condemn Israel's resistance or to reconstruct the conditions which had led to the outbreak of war. A new milestone was reached when the Security Council adopted its unanimous Resolution on 22 November 1967. That Resolution was presented to us for our acquiescence, not as a substitute for specific agreement, but as a list of principles on which the parties could base their agreement. It was drafted, as Ambassador George Ball said on I I September, as 'a skeleton of principles on which peace could be erected'. It was not meant to be self-executing. As Lord Caradon said on 22 November, it was not 'a call for a temporary truce or a superficial accommodation'; it reflected, as he said, a refusal 'to be associated with any so-called settlement which was only a continuation of a false truce'. Its author stated that any 'action to be taken must be within the framework of a permanent peace, and withdrawal must be to secure boundaries'. The term 'secure and recognized boundaries' had first appeared in a United States draft, the author of which pointed out that this meant something different from the old armistice demarcation lines. Secure and recognized boundaries, he said, had never existed in the Middle East. They must, therefore, be fixed by the parties in the course of the peacemaking process.

Now these were the understandings on which Israel's cooperation with Ambassador Jarring's mission was sought and obtained. Whatever our views might be on these formulations by other Governments, it has been evident at every stage that the two central issues are the establishment of a permanent peace and an agreement for the first time on the delineation of secure and recognized boundaries. These are the conditions prerequisite for any movement. It is here that the peacemaking process must begin. If these problems are solved, all the other issues mentioned in the Resolution fall into place. To seek a change in the cease-fire dispositions, without the framework of a just and lasting peace and the determination of agreed boundaries, is an irrational course for which there is no international authority or precedent. This would be a short and certain route to renewed war in conditions hostile to Israel's security and existence.

Our contacts with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General began in December 1967. At the end of that month, on 27 December, I conveyed a document to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, through Ambassador Jarring, proposing an agenda for a discussion on the establishment of a just and lasting peace. In this letter, I expressed a willingness to hear the UAR's views, and suggested that representatives of our two Governments be brought together informally in order to explore each other's intentions and to derive assurance and confidence for future contacts. In our letter, we made it clear that the establishment of the boundary was fully open for negotiation and agreement.

The UAR made no reply, offered no comment, presented no counter-proposals. Indeed, from that day to this, the UAR has not sent us a single document referring to or commenting on any Israeli letters.

On 7 January, I conveyed to the Jordan Government, through Ambassador Jarring, a letter in which I sought to open a constructive dialogue. This letter reads in part:

"History and geography create an objective affinity of interest between the two countries. More than any other relationship between Middle Eastern States, this one involves human interests in a close degree of interdependence. A close and confident association would seem to be as necessary for Jordanian as for Israeli welfare.

"The major problems at issue between Jordan and Israel are closely inter-connected. Territorial security, economic and humanitarian problems impinge directly on each other. Moreover, the political and juridical basis of this relationship is of overriding importance. If there is a prior agreement to establish relations of permanent peace, the specific problems at issue between the two countries can be effectively and honourably solved."

I went on to list the five major subjects on which we shall seek agreement. These included the establishment of the boundary and security arrangements. No reply was made to this approach.

On 12 February, I requested Ambassador Jarring to convey the following to the Governments of Egypt and Jordan:

"Israel has cooperated and will cooperate with you in your mission. We accept the Security Council's call, in its Resolution of 22 November 1967, for the promotion of agreement on the establishment of peace with secure and recognized boundaries. "Once agreement is reached on a peace settlement, it will be faithfully implemented by Israel.

"As I indicated to you on 1 February 1968, Israel is prepared to negotiate on all matters included in the Security Council Resolution which either side wishes to raise. Our views on the problems of peace and our interpretation of the Resolution were stated by me in the Security Council on 2 November 1967.

"The next step should be to bring the parties together. I refer to the agreement which I expressed to you on 1 February for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to convene the two Governments."

This message elicited no response. On February 19, I communicated another message to Ambassador Jarring for transmission to Cairo. This message assured the SecretaryGeneral's Representative of Israel's full cooperation in his efforts to promote agreement and to achieve an accepted settlement for the establishment of a just and lasting peace in accordance with his mandate under the Security Council Resolution of 22 November 1967.

It further pointed out that the UAR is aware of Israel's willingness to negotiate on all matters included in the Security Council Resolution. It drew attention to the fact that the Resolution is a framework for agreement, and that it cannot be fulfilled without a direct exchange of views and proposals leading to bilateral contractual commitments. It accepted the sponsor's view that the principles recommended for inclusion in the peace settlement are integrally linked and interdependent, and it proposed to move forward to a more substantive stage and to embark on a meaningful negotiation for achieving a just and lasting peace called for by the Security Council.

Early in March 1968, Ambassador Jarring sought our reaction on a proposal to convene Israel, the UAR and Jordan in conferences under his auspices to seek an agreed settlement in fulfilment of his mandate under the Security Council's Resolution. We were later informed that the UAR had rejected and that Jordan bad not accepted this course. On 1 May, Ambassador Tekoah was empowered to indicate, in the Security Council, Israel's acceptance of the November Resolution for the promotion of agreement on the establishment of a just and lasting peace. The Israeli Representative was authorized to reaffirm that we were willing to seek agreement with each Arab State on all the matters included in the Resolution, and that we accepted the proposal of Dr. Jarring of bringing about meetings between Israel and its neighbours under his auspices in fulfilment of his mandate for the purpose of peaceful and accepted settlement.

On 29 May, after a discussion in our Cabinet, I made a statement in the Knesset proposing a method of implementing the Security Council Resolution through negotiation, agreement and the signature and application of treaty engagements to be worked out between the parties. In this, as in previous documents, it was made clear that we regarded the establishment of the boundary as a matter for negotiation and agreement.

On 14 June, I was informed that this proposal had been conveyed to the UAR's Permanent Representative, who had noted it without any reaction. At the end of August, I submitted to the UAR Foreign Minister, through Ambassador Jarring, a series of ideas and viewpoints on the implications of the term "a just and final peace". This was developed in further communications early in September. To all these detailed proposals, the UAR replied declining any specific comment, and limiting itself to a general reference to the text of the Security Council's Resolution. The UAR would recite the Resolution in a declaration of acceptance without any specification of how it proposed to reach concrete agreement. During this time, Egyptian policy was authoritatively defined by President Nasser in a formal utterance on 23 June. In that statement, the UAR President expressed willingness to attempt, as in March 1957, "a political solution" on condition that certain principles of Egyptian policy be recognized. He said:

"The following principles of Egyptian policy are immutable:

1) No negotiation with Israel

2) No peace with Israel

3) No recognition of Israel

4) No transactions will be made at the expense of Palestinian territories or the Palestinian people."

How one can build peace out of such negative and immutable principles defeats the imagination.

Mr. President, I have taken the General assembly into the knowledge of our initiatives and proposals. I leave it to my fellow delegates to judge whether their complete rejection was justified or compatible with a sincere attempt to explore the conditions of a permanent peace and to reach agreement.

In discussing the reasons for the lack of substantive progress, we cannot fail to perceive that the discussion on peace has revolved too much around semantic expressions, too little around the solution of contentious issues. There is no instance in history in which a stubborn and complex conflict has been brought to an end by the mere recitation of texts without precise agreement on the issues of which the conflict is composed. Israel has accepted the Security Council's Resolution for the establishment of a just and lasting peace and declared its readiness to negotiate agreements on all the principles mentioned therein. We hold that the Resolution should be implemented through negotiation, agreement and the joint signature and application of appropriate treaty engagements.

When the parties accept a basis for settlement - their least duty is to clarify what they mean by their acceptance.

To make identical and laconic statements with diametrically opposed motives and interpretations would come dangerously close to international deceit. All parties must say what they mean, and mean what they say. And the heart of the problem is not what we say, but what we do. The construction of a peaceful edifice requires sustained action in order to bring the vital interests of the parties into an acceptable harmony.. There is no such thing as peace by incantation. Peace cannot be advanced by recitations accompanied by refusal to negotiate viable agreements. The Security Council's Resolution has not been used as an instrument for peace. It has been invoked as an obstacle and alibi to prevent the attainment of peace.

In these conditions, my Government has given intensive consideration to the steps that we should now take. Our conclusion is this. Past disappointment should not lead to present despair. The stakes are too high. While the cease-fire agreements offer important security against large-scale hostilities, they do not represent a final state of peace. They must, of course, be maintained and respected until there is peace. They must be safeguarded against erosion by military assault and murderous incursion. But at the same time, the exploration of a lasting peace should be constant. Unremitting, resilient and, above all, sincere, my Government deems the circumstances and atmosphere afforded by our presence here as congenial for a new attempt. We suggest that a new effort be made in the coming weeks to cooperate with Ambassador Jarring in his task of promoting agreements on the establishment of Peace.

It is important to break out of the declaratory phase in which the differences of formulation are secondary and in any case legitimate, in order to give tangible effect to the principles whereby peace can be achieved in conformity with the central purposes of the United Nations Charter or the Security Council Resolution and with the norms of international law. Instead of a war of words, we need acts of peace.

I come to enumerate the nine principles by which peace can be achieved:

1) The establishment of peace

The situation to follow the cease-fire must be a just and lasting peace, duly negotiated and contractually expressed.

Peace is not a mere absence of fighting. It is a positive and clearly defined relationship with far-reaching political, practical and juridical consequences. We propose that the peace settlement be embodied in treaty form. It would lay down the precise conditions of our co-existence, including a map of the secure and agreed boundary. The essence of peace is that it commits both parties to the proposition that their twenty-year-old conflict is at a permanent end. Peace is much more than what is called "non-belligerency". The elimination of belligerency is one of several conditions which compose the establishment of a just and lasting peace. If there had previously been peace between the States of our area and temporary hostilities had erupted, it might have been sufficient to terminate belligerency and to return to the previously existing peace. But the Arab-Israel area has had no peace. There is nothing normal or legitimate or established to which to return. The peace structure must be built from its foundations. The parties must define affirmatively what their relations shall be, not only what they will have ceased to be. The Security Council, too, called for the establishment of peace and not for any intermediate or ambiguous or fragmentary arrangement such as that which had exploded in 1967.

2) Secure and recognized boundaries

Within the framework of peace, the cease-fire lines will be replaced by permanent, secure and recognized boundaries between Israel and each of the neighbouring Arab States, and the disposition of forces will be carried out in full accordance with the boundaries under the final peace. We are willing to seek agreement with each Arab State on secure and recognized boundaries within the framework of a permanent peace.

It is possible to work out a boundary settlement compatible with the security of Israel and with the honour of Arab States. After twenty years, it is time that Middle Eastern States ceased to live in temporary "demarcation lines" without the precision and permanence which can come only from the definite agreement of the States concerned. The majority of the United Nations have recognized that the only durable and reasonable solutions are agreed solutions serving the common interests of our peoples. The new peace structure in the Middle east, including the secure and recognized boundaries, must be built by Arab and Israeli hands.

3) Security Agreements

In addition to the establishment of agreed territorial boundaries, we should discuss other agreed security arrangements designed to avoid the kind of vulnerable situation which caused a breakdown of the peace in the summer of 1967. The instrument establishing peace should contain a pledge of mutual -non-aggression.

4) The open frontier

When agreement is reached on the establishment of peace with permanent boundaries, the freedom of movement now existing in the area, especially in the Israel-Jordan sector, should be maintained and developed. It would be incongruous if our peoples were to intermingle in peaceful contact and commerce only when there is a state of war and cease-fire - and to be separated into ghettos when there is peace. We should emulate the open frontier now developing within communities of States, as in parts of Western Europe. Within this concept, we include free port facilities for Jordan on Israel's Mediterranean coast and mutual access to places of religious and historic associations.

5) Navigation

Interference with navigation in the international waterways in the area has been the symbol of the state of war and, more than once, an immediate cause of hostilities. The arrangements for guaranteeing freedom of navigation should be unreserved, precise, concrete and founded on absolute equality of rights and obligations between Israel and other littoral States.

6) Refugees

The problem of displaced populations was caused by war and can be solved by peace, On this problem I propose:

One: A conference of Middle Eastern States should be convened, together with the Governments contributing to refugee relief and the specialized agencies of the United Nations, in order to chart a five-year plan for the solution of the refugee problem in the framework of a lasting peace and the integration of refugees into productive life. This conference can be called in advance of peace negotiations.

Two: Under the peace settlement, joint refugee integration and rehabilitation commissions should be established by the signatories in order to approve agreed projects for refugee integration in the Middle East, with regional and international aid.

Three: As an interim measure, my Government has decided, in view of the forthcoming winter, to intensify and accelerate action to widen the uniting of families scheme, and to process "hardship cases" among refugees who had crossed to the East Bank during the June 1967 fighting. Moreover, permits for return which had been granted and not used can be transferred to other refugees who meet the same requirements and criteria as the original recipients.

7) Jerusalem

Israel does not seek to exercise unilateral jurisdiction in the Holy Places of Christianity and Islam. We are willing in each case to work out a status to give effect to their universal character. We would like to discuss appropriate agreements with those traditionally concerned. Our policy is that the Christian and Moslem Holy Places should come under the responsibility of those who hold them in reverence.

8) Acknowledgement and recognition of sovereignty, integrity and right to national life

This principle, inherent in the Charter and expressed in the Security Council Resolution of November 1967, is of basic importance. It should be fulfilled through specific contractual engagements to be made by the Governments of Israel and of the Arab States to each other - by name. It follows logically that Arab Governments will withdraw all the reservations which they have expressed on adhering to international conventions, about the non-applicabiblty of their signatures to their relations with Israel.

9) Regional cooperation

The peace discussion should examine a common approach to some of the resources and means of communication in the region in an effort to lay foundations of a Middle Eastern community of sovereign States.

Mr. President,

The process of exploring peace terms should follow normal precedents. There is no case in history in which conflicts have been liquidated or a transition effected from a state of war to a state of peace on the basis of a stubborn refusal by one State to meet another for negotiation. There would be nothing new in the experience and relationship of Israel and the Arab States for them to meet officially to effect a transition in their relationships. What is new and unprecedented is President Nasser's principle of "no negotiation".

In the meantime, we continue to be ready to exchange ideas and clarifications on certain matters of substance through Ambassador Jarring with any Arab Government willing to establish a just and lasting peace with Israel.

Mr. President,

I have expounded our views on peace in more detail than is usual in General Assembly debates. On each of these nine points we have elaborated detailed views and ideas which we would discuss with neighbouring States in a genuine exchange of views, in which we should, of course, consider comments and proposals from the other side.

No Arab spokesman has yet addressed himself to us in similar detail on the specific and concrete issues involved in peacemaking. Behind our proposals lie much thought and planning which can bear fruit when our minds and hearts interact with those of neighbouring States.

We ask friendly Governments outside the region to appraise the spirit as well as the content of the ideas which I have here outlined. We urge the Arab Governments to ponder them in a deliberate mood, and to explore their detailed implications with us in the normal and appropriate frameworks.

The solutions which I have outlined cover all the matters mentioned in the Security Council's Resolution and would constitute the effective fulfilment of its purposes.

We base ourselves on the integral and interdependent character of the points at issue. Nothing is less fruitful than an attempt to give separate identity or precedence to any single principle of international policy, thus destroying its delicate balance.

Moreover, the obligations of Israel and the Arab States to each other are not exhausted by any single text. They are also governed by the Charter, by the traditional precepts of international law, by constructive realism and by the weight of human needs and potentialities.

Lest Arab Governments be tempted out of sheer routine to rush into impulsive rejection, let me suggest that tragedy is not what men suffer but what they miss. Time and again Arab Governments have rejected proposals today - and longed for them tomorrow. The fatal pattern is drawn across the whole period since 1947 - and before. There is nothing unrealistic about a negotiated peace inspired by a sense of innovation and constructed by prudent and flexible statecraft. Indeed, all other courses are unrealistic. The idea of a solution imposed on the parties by a concert of Powers is perhaps the most unrealistic of all. The positions of the Powers have not moved any closer in the last fifteen months than have the positions of the parties themselves. Moreover, the Middle East is not an international protectorate. It is an area of sovereign States which alone have the duty and responsibility of determining the conditions of their co-existence. When the parties have reached agreement, it would be natural for their agreement to receive international support. To the Arab States, we say: "For you and us alone, the Middle East is not a distant concern, or a strategic interest, or a problem of conflict, but the cherished home in which our cultures were born, in which our nationhood was fashioned and in which we and you and all our posterity must henceforth live together in mutuality of interest and respect."

It may seem ambitious to talk of a peaceful Middle Eastern design at this moment. of tension and rancour. But there is such a thing in physics as fusion at high temperatures. In political experience, too, the consciousness of peril often brings a thaw in frozen situations. In the long run, nations can prosper only by recognizing what their common interest demands. The hour is ripe for the creative adventure of peace.


Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs