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Israel Addresses ‘group 77′ at United Nations; Claims Membership

After fighting intense Arab opposition for five months, Israel finally gained the opportunity here today to address the “Group of 77,” pressing Israel’s insistence that it rightfully belonged among the underdeveloped countries that have formed this group of “have-not” nations concerned with social and economic growth.

The so-called “Group of 77″ is the largest combination of blocs ever formed at the United Nations. It is composed of the African, Asian and Latin American countries, all of them “underdeveloped,” and seeking the aid of the “affluent” nations.

Arab representatives on the group, supported by other Moslem states, have been trying since the UN International Trade Conference concluded at Geneva last June to exclude Israel. Last month, the chairman of the group refused to recognize Israel at a stormy meeting marked by loud shouting by Arab delegates. As the November session of the group convened today, this month’s chairman, Francisco Cuevas Cancino, of Mexico, formally invited Israel to state its case. He asked Ambassador Michael S. Comay, Israel’s permanent representative here, to address the group today.

Outlining Israel’s case, Mr. Comay recalled that, at the first informal session of the bloc’s preparatory committee in October 1963, that committee had ruled that the group would include “all the developing countries, members of the United Nations.” He cited a number of official UN actions and documents which had definitely included Israel among the “developing countries.”

“Israel,” he said, “had mobilized all our creative energy and pioneering zeal in tackling the development problems of our own small country; sought to share with others our experience in nation building and today we have projects of economic and technical cooperation in 51 other developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.”

“On the international scene,” Mr. Comay continued, “we have completely identified ourselves with the positions of the developing world as a whole.” He told the group that there was no reason whatever for the exclusion of Israel except for efforts by some members to give the group a “political character.”

After Mr. Comay spoke, Mr. Cuevas Cancino appointed a “working group” of nine members, composed equally of representatives from Asia, Africa and Latin America, to consider the entire group’s “composition and integration,” and report back to the body as a whole not later than December 15.

One more point that Mr. Comay made in anticipation of the appointment of the “working group” was an expression of hope that the group would not rule that “a claim to membership should be endorsed by the region to which the claimant belongs.” Such a ruling would of course amount to giving the Arab states a veto against the admission of Israel.

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