Press Release (18 October 1994)

Yesterday the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in reference to the letter, dated 13 October 1994, addressed to the Secretary-General from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, regarding the abduction of an Israeli soldier. The Permanent Observer of Palestine requested the distribution of the letter as an official document of the United Nations General Assembly. The text of the letter reads as follows:

I would like to refer to the letter, dated 13 October 1994, from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations addressed to Your Excellency, regarding the abduction of an Israeli soldier, in which he states the following:

"According to intelligence sources, Corporal Waxman is being held captive in the Gaza Strip. In accordance with the Declaration of Principles signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and with the subsequent Agreement on the Gaza Strip and Jericho Area signed by the parties, the responsibility for the life, welfare and safe return of Corporal Waxman lies with the Palestinian Authority."

Prior to that letter, the Israeli government suspended the peace talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization and, in what amounted to collective punishment, sealed the entire Gaza Strip. Several high level Israeli officials repeatedly announced that they held the Palestinian Authority responsible for the life of the soldier, and even insisted that the head of the Palestinian Authority was personally responsible. Such positions were echoed by some others as well. Furthermore, earlier in the week, following the attack which took place in Jerusalem on 9 October 1994, some high level Israeli officials propagated the rumor that one of the attackers in the incident was a member of the Palestinian police force, even at the time when the facts were known that the person was not a Palestinian and was holding an Israeli visa.

Shortly after the abduction of the soldier, the Palestinian Authority did condemn the abduction and maintained that the suspension of the talks was not appropriate and that the soldier, according to their information, was not in Gaza. The Authority, nevertheless, did its utmost to deal with the situation in the territories under its control. On 14 October 1994, an Israeli attempt to rescue the soldier took place, and it became known that the soldier was being held in Beir Nabala in the Occupied West Bank, which is still under Israeli control, and all Israeli assertions mentioned above proved to be wrong.

It was difficult to understand some of the Israeli positions, but it remains our strong hope that such positions do not suggest any negative motives towards the peace process at its present critical juncture. In all cases, we believe that the integrity of the peace process should not have been endangered by hastily made positions and decisions. At this time, however, we would like to also express our satisfaction that the two parties have decided to resume the peace talks in Cairo this week.

The Palestine Liberation Organization reaffirms its condemnation of the abduction of the Israeli soldier. It reaffirms as well its condemnation of terrorist actions committed by Israelis, especially those committed by the illegally present Israeli settlers, against the Palestinian people.