U.S. Letter of Assurances to Israel
18 October 1991
Israel's decision to attend a peace conference on the Middle East in order to launch direct and bilateral negotiations for peace is an important step that brings Israel closer to the peace and security it so aspires to. Now, it is time for all the sides to take decisions, in order to enable a rapid motion towards a Conference and negotiations. And indeed, only through direct negotiations can real peace and security be achieved.
In the context of the process on which we are embarking, we want to respond to your request for certain assurances related to this process. These assurances constitute the United States understanding and intentions concerning the Conference and the negotiations.
We have made it clear from the beginning that the United States will be ready to supply assurances which fit with our policy and which are not weakening or contradicting the framework we created for the convening of the peace process. We also declared that no assurances will be provided to one party that are not known to all the others.
This process of negotiation is based on the special relations between our two countries which are based on common values and interests and on respect for democracy. Since the creation of the State of Israel the United States has understood that the challenges which Israel face are tied to the essence of its existence. During quite a long period Israel has been living in a region where its neighbors refused to recognize its existence and tried to destroy it. Therefore, the key for promoting peace has always been the recognition of Israel's security needs and the need for close cooperation between our two countries in order to fulfill these needs.
We assure you that our commitment to Israel's security remains unaltered. Anyone who tries to drive a wedge between us in an attempt to damage this commitment cannot understand the deep ties between our two countries and the character of our commitment to Israel's security, including the commitment to preserve its qualitative advantage. We want to emphasize once again our stand that Israel has the right to secure and defensible borders that should be agreed upon in direct negotiations and that will be acceptable to its neighbors. The United States believes that the aim of this process is a just and lasting peace that will be achieved through talks based on U.N. Resolution 242 and 338 including signing peace agreements with full diplomatic relations between Israel and its neighbors.
You and the other parties have informed us that there were various interpretations of Security Council Resolution 242 and they will be presented during the negotiations. In accordance with the United States traditional policy, we do not support the creation of an independent Palestinian State. Neither do we support the continuation of the Israeli rule or annexation of the Occupied Territories.
The Conference will have no power to impose solutions on the parties or to veto the agreements achieved by it. It will not have the power to take decisions nor the right of veto on questions or conclusions. The conference can be reconvened only by the agreement of all the parties.
Direct bi-lateral negotiations will begin 4 days after the opening of the Conference. Those parties who wish to attend multilateral negotiations will convene two weeks after the opening of the Conference to organize those negotiations. The United States supports the participation and the organization of those multilateral negotiations. We believe that the debates should focus on general regional issues such as water, environment, arms control and regional security, economic development, the question of refugees and other issues.
The United States is committed to obtain a comprehensive peace settlement of the Israeli-Arab conflict and will do its utmost to ensure that the process moves forward along both tracks towards this end. The United States hopes to enlarge the scope of peace and to include in it other states in the region.
The United States does not support linkage between the various negotiations for the achievement of a comprehensive settlement.
The United States believes that no party in the process can be forced to sit with anyone it does not want to sit with. No surprises should occur concerning the nature of the representation in the Conference or in the negotiations. The United States believes that the Palestinians will be represented in a common Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza who agree to the two tracks concept and to negotiation by phases, and who are willing to live in peace with Israel will take part in the delegation and the negotiations on interim arrangements.
Moreover-it is not the United States aim to bring the P.L.0. into the process or to make Israel enter a dialogue or negotiation with the P.L.O. The United States will act as an honest broker in trying to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict.
The United States believes that a transitional period is required to break down the walls of suspicion and mistrust and lay the basis for negotiation on the final status.
In context of the negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians, the negotiations will be conducted in phases, beginning with talks on interim arrangements for self-government that will last five years. These talks will be conducted with the objective of reaching agreement within one year. Beginning the third year of the period of interim-arrangements, negotiations will take place on a permanent settlement. In the light of our special relations with Israel, the United States agrees to consult Israel and to take its stands into consideration on the question of the peace process. At the same time the United States reserves their right to declare their traditional stands whenever needed.
You expressed a special concern about the Golan Heights. In this context, the United States continues to stand behind the assurance given by President Ford to Prime Minister Rabin on September l, 1975, whereby the United States will support the stand that a comprehensive settlement with Syria. concerning a peace treaty, must enforce Israel's security before any attack directed from the Golan Heights.
The United States continues to support the idea that a just and lasting peace must be accepted by the two parties. The United States has not yet elaborated a definite stand on the issue of borders. When it has to do so, it will pay great attention to the Israeli stand whereby any arrangement with Syria should be based on Israel's continued presence on the Golan Heights. In this context, the United States is ready to propose American guarantees for border security arrangements agreed upon between Israel and Syria. according to our constitutional process.
In the context of Lebanon and in accordance with the United States traditional policy, we believe that Israel has the right to security along its northern border. Moreover-the United States remains committed to the withdrawal of all the foreign forces from Lebanon as well as the dismantling of militias.
We continue to see the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and the ties between them, as the cornerstone of our policy in the region and to support the fulfillment of the peace accords between Israel and Egypt and of its related agreements.
These are the assurances that the United States is providing concerning the implementation of the initiative we have discussed. Through common work, based on the mutual trust that has always characterized our relations, Israel and the United States can advance towards the peace that was denied to Israel for a long period.
Source: The Palestinian-Israeli Peace Agreement: A Documentary Record. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1994.