Address By Secretary of state William Rogers, 'A Lasting Peace in the Middle East: An American View’



 9 December 1969

    In an effort to broaden the scope of discussion we have recently resumed four-power negotiations at the United Nations.
    Let me outline our policy on various elements of the Security Council resolution. The basic and related issues might be described as peace, security, withdrawal, and territory.

    The resolution of the Security Council makes clear that the goal is the establishment of a state of peace between the parties instead of the state of belligerency which has characterized relations for over 20 years.  We believe the conditions and obligations of peace must be defined in specific terms.  For example, navigation rights in the Suez Canal and in the Straits of Tiran should be spelled out.  Respect for sovereignty and obligations of the parties to each other must be made specific.
    But peace, of course, involves much more than this.  It is also a matter of the attitudes and intentions of the parties.  Are they ready to coexist with one another?  Can a live-and-let-live attitude replace suspicion, mistrust, and hate?  A peace agreement between the parties must be based on clear and stated intentions and a willingness to bring about basic changes in the attitudes and conditions which are characteristic of the Middle East today.

    A lasting peace must be sustained by a sense of security on both sides. To this end, as envisaged in the Security Council resolution, there should be demilitarized zones and related security arrangements more reliable than those which existed in the area in the past. The parties themselves, with Ambassador Jarring's help, are in the best position to work out the nature and the details of such security arrangements.  It is, after all, their interests which are at stake and their territory which is involved.  They must live with the results.

    The Security Council resolution endorses the principle of the nonacquisition of territory by war and calls for withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 war. We support this part of the resolution, including withdrawal, just as we do its other elements.
The boundaries from which the 1967 war began were established in the 1949 armistice agreements and have defined the areas of national jurisdiction in the Middle East for 20 years.  These boundaries were armistice lines, not final political borders. The rights, claims, and positions of the parties in an ultimate peaceful settlement were reserved by the armistice agreements.
    The Security Council resolution neither endorses nor precludes these armistice lines as the definitive political boundaries. However, it calls for withdrawal from occupied territories, the nonacquisition of territory by war, and the establishment of secure and recognized boundaries.
We believe that while recognized political boundaries must be established, and agreed upon by the parties, any changes in the preexisting lines should not reflect the weight of conquest and should be confined to insubstantial alterations required for mutual security.  We do not support expansionism. We believe troops must be withdrawn as the resolution provides. We support Israel's security and the security of the Arab states as well.  We are for a lasting peace that requires security for both.

    By emphasizing the key issues of peace, security, withdrawal, and territory, I do not want to leave the impression that other issues are not equally important. Two in particular deserve special mention: the questions of refugees and of Jerusalem.
There can be no lasting peace without a just settlement of the problem of those Palestinians whom the wars of 1948 and 1967 have made homeless. This human dimension of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been of special concern to the United States for over 20 years. During this period the United States has contributed about $500 million for the support and education of the Palestine refugees.  We are prepared to contribute generously along with others to solve this problem.  We believe its just settlement must take into account the desires and aspirations of the refugees and the legitimate concerns of the governments in the area.
    The problem posed by the refugees will become increasingly serious if their future is not resolved.  There is a new consciousness among the young Palestinians who have grown up since 1948 which needs to be channelled away from bitterness and frustration toward hope and justice.
The question of the future status of Jerusalem, because it touches deep emotional, historical, and religious wellsprings, is particularly complicated.  We have made clear repeatedly in the past two and a half years that we cannot accept unilateral actions by any party to the final statues of the city. We believe its statues can be determined only through the agreement of the parties concerned, which in practical terms means primarily the Governments of Israel and Jordan, taking into account the interests of other countries in the area and the international community.  We do, however, support certain principles which we believe would provide an equitable framework for a Jerusalem settlement.
    Specifically, we believe Jerusalem should be a unified city within which there would no longer be restrictions on the movement of persons and goods. There should be open access to the unified city for persons of all faiths and nationalities.  Arrangements for the administration of the unified city should take into account the interests of all its inhabitants and of the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian communities. And there should be roles for both Israel and Jordan in the civic, economic, and religious life of the city.
    It is our hope that agreement on the key issues of peace, security, withdrawal and territory, will create a climate in which these questions of refugees and of Jerusalem, as well as other aspects of the conflict, can be resolved as part of the overall settlement.

DSB, vol.  LXII, no. 1593, 4 January 1970
Source: Fraser, T. G. (ed), 1980. The Middle East, 1914-1979, Edward Arnold, London.