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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4829

STATEMENT ON MIDDLE EAST SITUATION

Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 21/09/1978

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 4829

4,,, AUS RALIA~
PRIME M3NISTER
FOR PRESS 21 SEPTEM4BER 1978
STATEMENT ON MIDDLE EAST SITUATION
I seek leave to make a statement to the House about the
agreements reached at Camp David between Prime Minister
Begin of Israel and President Sadat of Egypt.
As Honourable Members will know, the thirteen day long Camp
David talks which concluded on September 17 resulted from
the personal initiative of President Carter.
The Government very much welcomed this initiative and it
welcomes the promising results that have been achieved.
I can mention to the House that President Carter was in
touch with me immediately before the talks at Camp David,
and that he again wrote to me following the conclusion of
the talks.
In my reply to the. President's latest letter, I conveyed to
him my warmest congratulations on his personal achievement
in bringing the two parties to agreement on a Framework for
Peace in the middle East and the Australian Government's
commitment to support his untiring efforts to bridge the
distance between Israeli and Egyptian standpoints.
I am sure all members of this House would wish to join with
me in congratulating the President on his initiative, and I
note that the Honourable Member for Holt on Tuesday gave
notice of a motion to this effect in which he was supported
by members on both sides of the House.
I also pay tribute to the statesmanship of President Sadat
and Prime Minister Begin.
All Honourable Members will be fully awvare of the importance
of the Middle East Region for world peace, and its vital
significance to Western interests.
In the last thirty years, the Region has been in continual
turmoil There have been four wars between the Arabs and the
Israelis. This has brought appalling suffering to the
peoples of the Region.

The instability created by this situation has been a constant
threat to world peace, and a constant invitation to unwarranted
external interference.
The search for peace has been a continuing preoccupation of
the United Nations and Western States throughout this period.
Under successive American Presidents, the United States has
made strenuous efforts to promote a settlement. These efforts,
however, foundered largely on the inability of the parties
concerned to overcome their deep-seated mutual fear and
distrust. It was not until the bold and imaginative initiative of
President Sadat in going to Jerusalem in November 1977
that the hope of a breakthrough towards some sort of
settlement in the Middle East seemed capable of realisation.
Unfortunately, the negotiations which fol. lowed President Sadat's
visit to Israel, and Mr Begin's return visit to Egypt, did
not gather the necessary momentum to enable a proper framework
for a settlement to be established.
It became apparent after the Leeds Castle meetings in July
that if there was to be any prospect of further progress,
some new stimulus would be needed.
President Carter took the courageous step of inviting the
Egyptian and Israeli leaders to meet him at Camp David for
personal discussions. President Carter wrote to me on
August about his reasons for initiating the Camp David
talks, and what he hoped to accomplish from them.
In my reply to him I emphasised the Australian Government's
support for the talks and the importance we attached to them.
The outcome of the talks is known to Honourable Members. in
summnary, two agreements were signed by President Sadat and
Prime Minister Begin, and witnessed by President Carter.
The first agreement is entitled " A Framework for Peace in
The Middle East" and covers the West Bank and Gaza. It envisages
a five-year transitional period during which Israeli military
forces will be withdrawn to garrisons in specified locations,
and the election of a self-governing authority with full
autonomy. Negotiations will be held among Egypt, Israel and i-f-it agrees
to participate Jordan, as well as elected representatives
of the Palestinians to determine the final status of the
West Bank and Gaza and it is hoped to produce a peace
treaty between Israel and Jordan.
During the negotiations there will be a freeze on the
establishment of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank
and Gaza. Security arrangements may include United Nations
forces, special security zones, demilitarized zones and early
warning stations. / 3

There is to be an exchange of letters on the Status of
East Jerusalem.
The second agreement, entitled " A Framework for the Conclusion
of a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel", covers the Sinai
and future bilateral relations.
it envisages a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel to be
signed within three months: full Israeli withdrawal from
the Sinai phased over no more than three years from the
signing of the treaty; the handing over of Israeli airfields
in the Sinai to Egyptian civilian control beginning from
three to nine months after that signing; the establishment
of security zones; and the establishment of normal relations
between Egypt and Israel on completion of the first major
Israeli withdrawal.
The Australian Government believes that the two agreements
provide a constructive framework for the resolution of the
Middle East conflict.
President Carter's timely initiative was clearly a vital
factor in bringing the two parties to these agreements, which
will surely be regarded as an historic turning point in the
search for a settlement in the Middle East.
We particularly welcome the agreement by the leaders of Egypt
and Israel that the provisions and principles of U. N. Security
Council Resolution 242 will govern the negotiations for an
agreed basis for a peaceful settlement between Israel and its
neighbours. This is a position which the Australian Government
has consistently taken.
We also welcome the recognition in the Camp David agreements
of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including
their right to participate in the determination of their own
future. This also accords with the stated policy of the
Australian Government.
A difficult road lies ahead. Other Arab States, whose support
will be essential to any lasting settlement, have yet to be
convinced that the Camp David framework can be an acceptable
basis for future negotiations.
We hope that the Middle Eastern governments, in the spirit of
Camp David, will be encouraged to support this framework and
to participate in future negotiations in the search for peace.
It is most important that the momentum generated by the Camp
David agreements be maintained. Continued diplomatic activity
will be critical to the objectives of ensuring further progress
in the negotiations in the months ahead.
In this context, the present round of talks being undertaken
by Mr Vance with key Arab leaders will be of fundamental
importance. 14

4
The Australian Government stands ready to give its support
to the terms of any settlement agreed upon between the
parties in the Middle East.
I have written to President Carter today to inform him that
the Australian Government regards the agreements reached at
Camp David as a major contribution towards a peace settlement,
and that he has our full support for his efforts to bring
an end to the threat of war in the Middle East.
o0o---

Transcript 4829