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Emasculated Afro-asian Draft in by 57-16 Vote; Results Not As Drastic As Feared

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A modified version of the Afro-Asian draft resolution on the Middle East was adopted today in the General Assembly by a vote of 57 to 16, with 39 abstentions. The Latin American draft resolution was rejected by a vote of 49 to 45, with 27 abstentions. Israel and the United States voted no on the first and yes on the second. Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban told newsmen after the voting that while the Afro-Asian measure “adds new obstacles” to the search for peace–by making “more frequent” references to Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab territories and by paying not the “slightest attention” to Egyptian violations of the Suez Canal standstill pact–its low vote total made it “not impressive or important.” Mr. Eban, while criticizing the “bias” of France in being the only European nation to vote against the Latin American measure, praised that country for its successful “emasculation” of the Afro-Asian draft by deleting its strongly pro-Arab features. France, he said, “saved the resolution by plastic surgery.” Among the changes were, in Mr. Eban’s words, the deletion of the “provocative references to sanctions,” the addition of amendments recommending extension of the cease-fire and an end to “belligerency”; and the softening of the words “making arrangements” for “taking steps” in the call for further Security Council action.

Mr. Eban emphasized that the Arab-Soviet bloc had counted on 100 votes for the Afro draft, but had eventually given up references to anti-Israel sanctions, withdrawal from all territories, and a Palestinian nation, and had to accept a formal call for a cease-fire extension. In the process, support for the draft dwindled to only 57 votes. The United States resolution, which Israel favored, did not gain enough support to reach a vote. But Mr. Eban condemned the “negative role” played by Britain which abstained on both drafts. He rejected the explanation by the British ambassador, Sir Colin Crowe, that Britain did not fully support or reject either one. The Israeli said that had Britain voted against the Afro measure she could have garnered nays from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium and Luxembourg, all of whom abstained. Mr. Eban observed that the results of the voting proved that the General Assembly was “the last place in which you can get a constructive determination on the Middle East problem.” The United Nations, he said, “no longer has a clear voice,” adding that today’s “fragmented, divisive voting creates a confused jurisprudence” and “creates a new documentary controversy between Israel and the Arab states.”

Mr. Eban admitted, however, that the results were not as drastic as Israel had feared, and in fact he appeared far more relaxed today than he did before the vote. He suggested that the chances for the success of the Jarring peace mission were “even less than they were before,” but declined to specify Israel’s position toward the talks other than to say “We will think about it again” and see whether Dr. Jarring accepts or ignores the Afro-Asian resolution. The Latin American resolution voices “full support” for Security Council Resolution 242, the Jarring mission and a three-month extension of the cease-fire, and emphasizes “scrupulous” observance of the standstill cease-fire. Mr. Eban said the poor showing of the “emasculated” Afro-Asian draft was due to three factors: The existence of the U.S. draft, drawing votes away; Israel’s flat statement that it would ignore any resolution “tampering” with Resolution 242, and the introduction of the Latin American draft after Israeli “pressure.” All in all, Mr. Eben said following the acceptance of the watered-down Afro-Asian measure, “Two weeks from now the question will not matter very much and the whole thing will be as it was before.”

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