Statement on the Middle East

Meeting of the Socialist International Middle East Committee, Cairo, 14 March 1998

The Socialist International Middle East Committee, SIMEC, meeting in Cairo on Saturday 14 March 1998 to review the serious conditions prevailing in the Middle East as a result of the deadlock in the peace process which could lead to an escalation of violence, and after considering the latest developments:

Expresses its deep concern over the deadlock on all tracks of the peace process negotiations. Israel has a special responsibility to bring the peace process back on course.

Confirms its determination that the peace process on all tracks be established on the principles and basis of international legitimacy as embodied in resolutions 242, 338 and 425 of the UN Security Council, and on the principles stated on the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, foremost among which is the principle of Land for Peace, the Oslo Accords, and all other resolutions and agreements concluded by the parties concerned.

Reaffirms that permanent and stable peace must be just and comprehensive in conformity with the principles approved by the international community. Foremost among these principles is the Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab territories, allowing the Palestinians to practise their inalienable right to self-determination and the setting-up of an independent Palestinian state, as well as the principle of respect of the right of all peoples in the region to live in peace and security and channel their efforts to national reconstruction and development.

Calls upon the parties to implement their commitments, particularly on re-deployment, in accordance with the Oslo Agreements, so that final negotiations can be entered upon to resolve problems concerning Jerusalem, the settlements, refugees and borders.

Calls upon the Israeli government to desist from unilateral practices, particularly those of collective punishment, which impede the peace process and undermine mutual confidence. In this regard, the Committee condemns the settlement policies that aim at establishing a de facto situation in the occupied territories.

Condemns terrorism wherever it comes from, in the strongest terms. We cannot accept the killing of civilians, men, women and children, under whatever guise. The Palestinian Authority must spare no effort to destroy terrorism and isolate the terrorists. It is also the obligation of the Israeli government to put an end to extremist activities. It is not only human lives that are at stake but the peace process itself.

Calls for Israel and Syria to resume negotiations on the Syrian track on the basis of UN Resolutions and the Madrid conference Terms of Reference. Resolution 425 on the Lebanese track should also be implemented. Moreover, the Committee calls upon the international community to increase its efforts to achieve the consolidation of the peace process, saving it from total collapse.

Calls upon the peace process sponsors to continue their efforts in re-installing negotiations on all tracks with a view to achieve a just and comprehensive peace bringing security and stability in the region. The Committee also expresses its solidarity with its Israeli and Palestinian member parties, Labour Party, Mapam/Meretz and Fatah.

Welcomes the stance adopted by the European community and all other peace-loving nations confirming the pivotal role played by the Egyptian leadership in furthering the peace process and the importance of continuing that role.

In response to President Mubarak's initiative of 1991, the Committee underlines the importance of rendering the Middle East region free of all weapons of mass destruction.

Furthermore, the Committee reiterates the importance of granting economic support to the Palestinian Authority and of extending every kind of assistance to the Palestinian people in order to improve their living conditions in such a way as to permit them to achieve stability and a favourable climate for resuming the peace talks.