The Shape of Peace in the Middle East

It is not for the United States to attempt to set the precise terms of a Middle East peace settlement. That can be done only by the parties directly in conflict, and only by a process of negotiation with each other.

However, some of the principles and elements that must be included if a settlement is to be reached are clear and evident:

The Arab governments will not accept a settlement which does not provide for recovery of territories lost in the 1967 war. Without such acceptance, no settlement can have the essential quality of assured permanence.

Israel will not agree to withdraw from occupied Arab territories, which she sees as enhancing her physical security, unless she has confidence in the permanence of the peace settlement. She also believes that the final borders to which she will withdraw must be negotiated and agreed in a binding peace settlement. She must, therefore, have confidence that no attack is forthcoming, and confidence in her acceptance by her neighbors and in other assurances.

The lack of mutual confidence between Israel and the Arab countries is so deep that supplementary major power guarantees could add an element of assurance. Such guarantees, coupled in time with a reduction of the armed strength of both sides, can give the agreement permanence.

No lasting settlement can be achieved in the Middle East without addressing the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. For over two decades they have been the victims of conditions that command sympathy. Peace requires fruitful lives for them and their children, and a just settlement of their claims.

The immediate task is to help the belligerents construct an agreement that will achieve a workable balance between the security and recognition that Israel seeks and a just resolution, which the Arab states seek, of the territorial and Palestinian issues. Only in such a balance can peace be found.