What happened at the Geneva Peace Conference in 1973?
In December 1973, following the cease-fire of the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, the United States and the Soviet Union invited Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Israel to a peace conference in Geneva, Switzerland on the basis of the UN Security Council’s call for a “just and durable peace” in Resolution 338. In recognition and support of this effort, the UN Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 344. UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim presided over the conference, formally called the Geneva Peace Conference on the Middle East, the first phase of a multi-step process.
The United States and Egypt had just restored diplomatic relations in November. This conference was the first time that foreign ministers of the United States, the Soviet Union and Middle Eastern states met at the same table. However, Syria refused to attend the conference and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was not invited dueto opposition by the US and Israel.Within the PLO itself, there was reluctance to attend even if invited since doing so would give de facto recognition to Israel and undermine the firm PLO position that Israel had to be destroyed to achieve Palestinian objectives in the region.
Tensions remained high: during the conference not one word was directly exchanged between Arab delegates and the Israelis. There was little progress and the conference was adjourned inconclusively on January 9, 1974.
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