The United States' position on Jerulsalem as stated by its ambassador
Regional, History, 6/29/1998
Statement by Ambassador Charles W. Yost, US representative to the nations in the Security Council, on the situation in Jerusalem, July 1, 1969:
Once again the council has been summoned to deal with certain actions taken by the government of Israel in Jerusalem. We have listened carefully to the statements of the permanent representative of Jordan and other Arab ambassadors, as well as the reply of the representative of Israel.
The discussion thus far has made amply clear that the status of Jerusalem is not an isolated problem, but, rather an integral part of a whole complex of issues in the current Middle East conflict confirmed which must be resolved. This is not a novel conclusion. The council clearly recognized that fact in resolution 242 which treats the entire Middle East situation as package. This resolution remains the basis of our approach to a just and lasting pace in the area. You are all well aware of the strenuous efforts my own government is making to help ambassador Jarring promote a peaceful settlement. Progress in these has, admittedly, been slow. This is perhaps not surprising when one reflects on how deep the roots of the conflict go. But the important thing is that some progress is being made.
The fact that it has not been crowned with dramatic success should not give grounds for despair. Nor should it be exploited as justification for actions, which will make greater progress even difficult. This applies to actions in Jerusalem as elsewhere in the area. Indeed, Jerusalem occupies a very special place in all our minds and all our hearts as one of the holiest cities in the entire world. For Jerusalem is a sacred shrine to three of the world's largest and oldest religious faiths: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. By virtue of that fact the United States has always considered that Jerusalem enjoys a unique international standing and that no action should be taken there, without full regard to Jerusalem's special history and special place in the world community. Unfortunately there have been acts of many kinds which have broken the peace in Jerusalem and which are of deep concern to my government and to the international community. Mr. President, we understand the deep emotional concerns which move all parties to the Arab - Israeli disputes on the subject of Jerusalem. We do not believe, however, that any of these concerns are served by what is taking place in East Jerusalem, whether it be actions by those now exercising authority there or by individuals considering themselves aggrieved and therefore justified in resorting to violence. The expropriation or confiscation of land, the demolitions or confiscation of buildings, including those having historic or religious significance and the application of Israeli law to occupied portions of the city are detrimental to our common interest in the city. The United States considers that the part of Jerusalem that came under the cease-fire lines or public, but also on the ground in Jerusalem itself.
In treating the problem of Jerusalem, since dealing with it in the context of the total situation in the Middle East, my delegation will subject any proposal for council action, first of all, to the test of whether that proposal is likely to help or hinder the peaceful settlement process. I hope all members will do likewise.
For example, one constructive move the council might make would be to request the parties to lay aside their recriminations, to desist form any action in Jerusalem or elsewhere that might be construed as prejudicing or prejudging a final, comprehensive settlement, a just and lasting peace. Thus, our consideration of the situation in Jerusalem could provide a fitting occasion on which to insist once more that the parties to a dispute which keeps the world's holiest city in turmoil act responsibly to resolve the whole dispute and, until it is resolved, that they take action anywhere which could further jeopardize a resolution.
the statement by Ambassador Arthur J. Goldgerg. U3 representative to the United Nations, in pleary sultation. in explanation of the vote on the resolution on Jerusalem, July 14, 1967.
Ms. President the goal of the United States in the Middle East, one we believe shared by the great preponderance of the world community, is a durable peace and enduring settlement . We conceive of this goal as requiring throughout and the area far more than a return to the temporary and fragile truce which erupted into tragic conflict on June 5. We are convinced, both by logic and the unforgettable experience of tragic history , that there can be progress toward the durable peace in the entire area only if certain essential steps are taken. One immediate, obvious and imperative step is the disengagement of all forces and the withdrawal of Israeli forces to their own territory. Second and equally immediate, obvious and imperative step is the termination of any claims to a state of war or belligerence on the part of Arab states in the area. These two steps are essential to progress towards durable peace. They are equally essential if there is to be substance and concrete meaning to the basic charter right of every state in the area, a right to which the United States remains firmly committed, the right to have its territorial integrity and political independence respected by all and free from the threat or use of force by all. The United States stands ready to give its full support to practical measures to help bring about these steps: withdrawal of forces and the termination of belligerent acts of claims as soon as possible. But if our goal is a durable peace, it is imperative that there be grater vision both from this organization and from the parties themselves. It is imperative that all look beyond the immediate causes and effects of the recent conflict. Attention must also be focused, and urgently.
On reaching a just and permanent settlement of the refugee problem which has been accentuated by recent by recent events.
On means to ensure respect for the right of every member of the United Nations in the area to live in peace and security as an independent national state.
On measures to ensure respect for the right of all situation to freedom of navigation and of innocent passage through international waterways.
On reaching agreement, both those in the area and those outside, that economic development and the improvement of living standards should be given precedence over a wasteful arms race the area.
In each and every one the separate but related imperatives of peace, we recognize fully that agreement cannot be imposed upon the parties from outside. At the same time, we also believe the machinery, experience and resources of the United Nations can be of immeasurable help in implementing agreements acceptable to the parties.
The offer of such assistance by this organization is dictated not only by the roots of the United Nations' responsibility and involvement in the Middle East which have grown deep and strong over two decades, it is also dictated by our common determination even duty, under the charter of the United Nation have save succeeding generations in the Middle East from the scourge of another war.
It is against the background of this overall policy that my government has developed toward the question of Jerusalem -- and I wish to make the attitude very explicit.
The views of my government have been expressed by the president of the of United States and other high level officials. On June 28, the White House made following statement:
The president said on June 19 that in our view "There must be adequate recognition of the special interests of three great religions in the holy places of Jerusalem."
On principle he assumes that before any unilateral action is taken on the status of Jerusalem there will be appropriate consultation with religious leaders and others who are deeply concerned. Jerusalem is holy to Christians, to Jews, and to Moslems. It is one of the great continuing tragedies of history that a city which is so much the center of man's highest values has also been, over and over, a center of conflict. Repeatedly the passionate beliefs of one of the elements have led to exclusion or unfairness for another. It has been so, unfortunately in the last 20 years. Men of all religions will agree that we must now do better. The world must find an answer that is fair and recognized.
The second statement released on the same day by the department of State, read:
"The hasty administrative action taken today cannot be regarded as determining future of the holy places or the status of Jerusalem in relation to them.
"The United States has never recognized such unilateral actions by any of the states the area as governing the international status of Jerusalem."
During my own statement to the General Assembly on July 3, I said that safeguarding of the holy places and freedom of access to them for all should be internationally guaranteed and the status of Jerusalem of in relation to them should be decided not unilaterally but in consultations with all concerned. These statements represent the considered and continuing policy of the United States government.
With regard to the specific measures taken by the government of Israel on June 28, I wish to make it clear that the United States does not accept or recognize these measures as altering the status of Jerusalem. My government does not recognize that the administrative measures taken by the government of Israel on June 28 can be regarded as the last on the matter, and we regret that they were taken. We insist that the measures taken cannot be considered other than interim and provisional and not prejudging the final and permanent status of Jerusalem.
Unfortunately and regrettably the statements of the government of Israel on these matters have thus far, in our view, not adequately dealt with situation.
Many delegations were prepared to vote for a separate resolution on Jerusalem, which would not accept any unilateral action as determining the status of Jerusalem and calling on the government of Israel to desist from any action purporting to define permanently the status of Jerusalem.
However, the sponsors made clear then, as was their right, that they preferred to proceed with their own text in document A/22253, and now with their resolution in A/L. 628, Rev 2. The later draft does include changes which we consider represent a marked improvement over the original version, particularly in that it no longer tends to prejudge action in the Security Council. Nevertheless, since the resolution just adopted expressly builds on resolution 253, on which we abstained for reasons which we stated publicly, consistent with that vote, we also abstained today.
Even as revised, the resolution does not fully correspond to our views, particularly since it appears to accept by its call for recession of measures that the administrative measures which were taken constitute annexation of Jerusalem by Israel, and because we do not believe the problem of Jerusalem can realistically be solved apart from the other related (problems).
And the record of the record of the Security Council is plain and clear for everyone to read as to action we took, supported and initiated in the Security Council to bring the conflict to an end.
There is one charge about our position to which I believed no nation in this hall faithful to the charter would feel any necessity to plead. That is the charge that we supported that right of every sovereign state member of the United Nations to an independent national existence, its right to live in a spirit of peaceful coexistence and good neighborliness with all in the area.
That is a charge which the United Nations places on us all and which we should all readily accept and acknowledge.
Our view has remained steadfast - before, during and now, after the conflict. We extend the hand of friendship to all states in the Middle East and express the fervent hope that as time heals the scars of war we can resume again our common helping build a better, more enduring order in every state and through the area, with peace, justice, security and liberty for all.
Mr. President, as much vituperation has taken place in this assembly as unseeingly in a world forum, that I could not help recalling today a statement made by my distinguished predecessor who died two years ago today in the cause of peace. Adlai Stevenson, talking about our believed Eleanor Roosevelt, said, "She would rather light a candle than curse the darkness." And I share that spirit. I do not see that anything in gained in the cause of pace in the Middle East by the vituperation which has taken place, vituperation not only against my country but against other, small countries, vituperation which has no place in this forum.
The time has come -- indeed, the time is long overdue for vituperation and bitterness to be tempered by sober realization of the difficulties ahead and the willingness to face them squarely and to do something about them.
What is needed is the wisdom and statement ships of all those directly concerned and the members of the United Nations so that conditions of hate, too much ventilated in this hall, can be eventually replaced by conditions of good neighborliness.
What is needed above all in the area is a spirit of reconciliation, which will someday hopefully make possible a peace of reconciliation. I fervently hope all in the area and all in this hall approach the days ahead in this spirit aspects of Jerusalem and of the Middle Eastern situation therefore, the United States abstained. We have of course recently expressed ourselves in a more formal sense by voting for a resolution dealing with the question of Jerusalem. This was the Latin American resolution contained in document A/L. 523 Rev. 1, which dealt with Jerusalem as one of the elements involved in a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.
It is in the treatment of one aspect of the problem of Jerusalem as an isolated issue, separate from the other elements of Jerusalem and of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, that we were unable to support resolution 2253.
Certainly, Jerusalem, as has been pointed out universally, I think, by every speaker, is an important issue and, in our opinion, one which must necessarily be considered in the context of a settlement all the problems arising out of the recent conflict. In Jerusalem there are transcendent spiritual interests. But there are also other important issues, and we believe that the most fruitful approach to a discussion of the future of Jerusalem lies in dealing with the entire problem as one aspect of the border arrangements that must be made to restore a just and durable peace in the area. And we believe consistent with the resolution we were ready to sponsor, that this assembly should have dealt with the problem by declaring itself against any unilateral change in the status of Jerusalem.
Mr. President, since we are approaching the end of this session on this important subject, in which remarks were made not relating specifically to Jerusalem but ranging very broadly on other subjects, I cannot let this occasion pass without reference to some of the allegations made regarding my government's role in the recent conflict in the Middle East. The charges that the United States instigated, encouraged or in any way participated in this tragic struggle are not too unfounded to dignify by individual comment. I dealt with many of these falsehoods explicitly in the Security Council and will not take the time of the assembly to go over the same ground here. I reaffirm what I said to the Security Council with respect to each and every one of these charges. I will merely say that one positive note in this session has been the abandonment of the most vicious falsehood of all which could have been productive of the most disastrous consequences -- that the United States' planes and military personnel participate in the war on the side of Israel. Before war broke out we sought prevent it by all means at our command. And once it began, we did everything in our power to bring it to an early end. The record of our diplomacy is very clear in this matter, despite comments which have been read from newspaper which scarcely characterize that diplomacy.
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