In its statement of 3 December 1975 in the Special Political Committee, my delegation spoke on four draft resolutions under agenda item 52 on which that Committee was about to vote.
Whilst reaffirming our views on all those resolutions, which meanwhile have been voted on and now appear in the report in document A/10461, I now wish to speak more particularly on draft resolutions A and D in paragraph 9 of that report.
The Assembly has by now grown accustomed to the inevitable, one-sided, biased, anti-Israel resolutions which do not relate to the facts and which are a direct result of this Organization’s becoming a centre of bias and discrimination as it is dragged down by a group of extreme despotisms to the level which it has reached. We are here witnessing the process of double talk, double values and two faced cynicism which now characterizes this organization, financed as it is to a very great degree by the free countries of the world in order to become the main instrument for the destruction of those values which free and democratic countries of this world hold dear. Resolution A in the report contained in document A/10461 is an unbelievable mosaic of untruths, falsehood and distortions, in furtherance of the anti-Semitic motives which animate the automatic majority in this body.
The Government of Israel has not, does not and will not co-operate with the so-called Special Committee, because this General Assembly refused at the time of establishment of that Committee to extend its mandate in order to investigate Arab practices affecting the human rights of the Jewish population in Arab countries. The entire Jewish population is being held hostage in Syria under the most terrifying of circumstances, in blatant violation of the elementary rights of human beings and yet this General Assembly was unable to request an examination of the conditions of the Jewish population of Syria.
Perhaps nothing could more readily illustrate the utter baselessness of those resolutions than draft resolution D on the al-Ibrahimi Mosque which is an utter travesty, not only of facts but of history. We are referring to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the City of Hebron, known to the Jewish people as the Cave of Machpela.
The Cave of Machpela is a Jewish holy place, housing as it does the tombs of the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their respective wives, Sarah, Rebekah and Leah, a fact conveniently ignored in this ridiculous resolution. For the benefit of the representatives who may not be particularly familiar with the Bible, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were Jewish, and were the early Jewish patriarchs. The story of the acquisition of the land and the tomb by Abraham is told in chapter 23 of the Book of Genesis.
This, Mr. President, is a copy of the Bible in which the principles of human brotherhood which inspired the creation of this Organization were first enunciated. This is the Bible in which the immortal words of Isaiah, which grace the wall facing this building, were first recorded. This is the Bible, rejected by many of the delegations to this Assembly. The automatic majority in the United Nations has not yet got around to amending this historic document, but I have no doubt that in due course it will propose to do so.
It is true that that transaction was not recorded formally as a United Nations document, but if representatives so desire I shall be happy to forward the text of this document to the Secretary-General so that it may be distributed as a United Nations document and thus remove the doubt in the minds of all as to the validity of this contract, entered into over 4,000 years ago. This contract was entered into by the Father of the Jewish people during the period of the Sumerian culture in Babylon, during the era of the Pharaohs in the Middle Kingdom of Thebes in Egypt.
Indeed, it might interest my Chinese colleagues to know that it was a contract entered into a couple of hundred years before the advent of the Shang dynasty. This was a contract entered into during what my Chinese colleagues must consider to have been a happier period than today when the two super-Powers which exercise them so much, the one which they consider to be imperialistic and the other hegemony, which to their dismay considers itself to be socialistic, did not exist in the world. What a boring world it must have been without those super-Powers,
While my forebears were signing contracts in Hebron and the ancestors of my Chinese colleagues were producing the most beautiful works of art and the skill of writing, out of which came the present Chinese system, the inhabitants of what are today the territories of the super-Powers were engaged in a daily primitive struggle for life with no greater ambition than that their hunt for a bear or a bison should bring them the sustenance they required.
While we can but look back with, or without, nostalgia to such a period, the fact remains that for 4,000 years that tomb in Hebron, housing the remains of the Jewish patriarchs and their wives, has remained a Jewish holy place and Jews have prayed there for most of the period.
How ironical it is that Israel should be condemned on this issue. For a long time when the tombs were under exclusive Moslem jurisdiction, Jews were not allowed access to them. During the period of the British Mandate, Jews were allowed to walk up only seven steps leading to the tombs. They were not allowed inside to pray. I can recall as a child being threatened by a sword when I tried to put my foot on the eight step. In August 1929, the entire Jewish population of Hebron was brutally massacred by an Arab mob. My great-grandmother, an old lady of 80, was one of those who were cut down by an Arab dagger on that occasion.
Since the administration of Hebron devolved on Israel after the 1967 war, brought on by the unprovoked Arab attack on Israel at the time – I have already read to this Assembly King Hussein of Jordan’s description in his biography of exactly how the attack was planned and carried out – Israel has given complete freedom of access to all religions concerned to the holy sites in the Holy Land. I refer the Assembly in this respect to the official statements issued in this regard by the representatives of the various Christians sects and by the heads of the Moslem religion.
It is ironical indeed that this complaint was instigated initially by the Government of Jordan, in Committee, which behaved with a complete lack of respect for the holy shrines under its control prior to 1967.
For 19 years, Jews were denied access for prayer to the holiest of Jewish shrines, the Wailing Wall, by the Jordanian occupation authorities in Jerusalem in contravention of their international obligations. Their troops set fire to, and destroyed Jewish synagogues and centres of worship in Jerusalem. The ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, hallowed by thousands of years of history and dating back to biblical times, was desecrated by the Jordanian authorities who defiled the graves and tombs, uprooted the tombstones for use in constructing army camps, and bulldozed roads across the historic Mount sanctified in Jewish and Christian tradition.
After the 1967 war, I personally found the graves of my grandparents and my great-grandparents on the Mount of Olives which had been desecrated by the Jordanians. As I mentioned before, Jewish access to the Cave of Machpelah, or the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, was forbidden by the Jordanian authorities.
The Jordanian Government’s record in respect of holy places under its control surely denies it any moral standing on such issues.
The overriding principles guiding Israel’s policy regarding all the holy places have been, and are, to guarantee free access to members of all faiths and to ensure orderly conditions of worship to members of every religion. This principle also applies to the Cave of Machpelah, and the sanctity of that holy shrine is strictly observed.
Nothing has been done in any way to minimize the responsibility exercised by the Moslem Waqf over the Cave. The Waqf – the Moslem custodian – daily opening and closing of the Cave, as well as its maintenance. The orderly conduct of Moslem prayers has in no way been interfered with, nor has the public call to prayer been tampered within any way. It is untrue that prayers for the Moslem dead have been forbidden or restricted in any manner, and funeral services continue to be conducted in the large hall of Isaac and Rebekah. The only change made has been one requiring Moslem funeral processions to leave the Cave by the south-western gate in order to spare the feelings of Jewish worshippers praying in the Abraham and Sarah Hall. Moslem religious teachers and personnel of the Cave have in no way been molested; on the contrary, they have beep, and continue to be, accorded the respect due to them, and all the assistance necessary to carry out their duties has been made available to them.
Furthermore, there has been no division of that Cave and no physical partition has been erected in that holy shrine. As the Cave of Machpelah is holy both to Judaism and Islam, arrangements have been made which enable both Moslems and Jews to worship and pray in an orderly manner on the basis of mutual respect. The Isaac and Rebekah Hall, the largest and most important hall to all religions, which contains the Imam’s Puplit or Mimbar, is kept exclusively for Moslem prayers, and Jewish services do not take place in it.
Israel is proud of its record in respect of the holy places of all faiths. Israeli policy will continue to adhere strictly to the fundamental principle of free access for prayer and worship by all believers of all faiths to all holy places. This whole draft resolution before the Assembly is a complete framework of fabrications, based as it is, like all resolutions affecting Israel, on one-sidedness, lack of balance and partially in the extreme. It lacks any moral basis whatsoever and is but a reflection of the utter lack of moral principles which characterize the resolutions of this Assembly.
As such, my delegation rejects it and calls on other fair-minded delegations so to do.
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR HERZOG, ON THE APPOINTMENT OF THE MEMBERS OF THE “COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE”, 17 December 1975.
In order to avoid any misunderstandings I wish formally to declare on, behalf of my Government that it will in no way co-operate with the proposed Committee. This Committee arises out of Resolution 3376 (XXX) which is entirely one-sided, biased and partial and is a resolution which by its very nature is irreconcilable with the process of negotiation towards peace in the Middle East. Accordingly, we reject this Committee out of hand and will have none of it.
As I have pointed out to this Assembly, no advance has been made in the Middle East without negotiation. Furthermore, no negotiation has taken place without an advance being made. The process of negotiation for the purpose of achieving peace in the Middle East is based on Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). On the basis of these resolutions the Geneva Peace Conference has been convened by the Co-Chairmen, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Within that broad framework, three agreements have already been reached in the Middle East by Israel – two with Egypt and one with Syria. The Government of Israel has announced that it is prepared to renew discussions in Geneva on the basis of the convening letter originally sent out by the Soviet Union and the United States of America.
In the past few months the representatives of the Government of Syria and other Arab delegations, including the representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization, have announced in this Assembly and on other occasions it is their avowed intention to destroy the present negotiating process prevailing in the Middle East and to annul the existing agreements which have been reached in the Middle East. In implementation of their plan, Resolution 3376 (XXX) was introduced and, in defiance of the Charter of the United Nations, the whole concept of negotiation was eliminated from it. Believe it or not, this Assembly has given its hand to the elimination of a process of negotiation towards peace which is under way in the Middle East. In furtherance of its purpose to eliminate negotiations, this resolution also established the Committee under discussion, with which we will not be associated.
A further step in the furtherance of this sinister purpose of destroying the process of negotiation towards peace in the Middle East is the convening of the Security Council meeting on 12 January 1976. This is a tragic retrograde step. My Government will in no way co-operate with any moves designed to undermine the basis of negotiation towards peace in the Middle East as evolved in Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), either on a bilateral basis or within the framework of the Geneva Peace Conference. We will not agree to any move made to destroy the process of negotiation and hen6hencee the Government of Israel will not co-operate with or indeed recognize this Committee.
The Government of Israel’s policy on the Palestinian-Arab problem was clearly enunciated by my Foreign Minister before this General Assembly.
May I repeat again, as a final observation to this Assembly, that the Government of Israel is prepared at all times to negotiate towards a just and lasting peace within the framework of the Geneva Conference or on a bilateral basis with all States parties to the Middle East conflict, without any pre-conditions whatsoever, either as to the substance of the discussions or the participants in the negotiations.
The greatest tragedy of this infamous Assembly has been the fact that it has taken such giant steps in contravention of the Charter of the United Nations towards eliminating the process of negotiation towards peace in the Middle East.
Mr. President, may I in conclusion take this opportunity to express to you, as President of this Assembly, my highest regard for the exemplary manner in which you have conducted its proceedings, for your wise leadership and guidance and for the fairness and impartially which have guided you.