UNITED NATIONS (Jul. 23)
The Security Council’s second call on Israel to release one Lebanese and five Syrian officers captured during a foray against terrorist bases in Lebanon June 21, was described by Israel’s Ambassador Yosef Tekoah yesterday as in “the tradition of unbalanced texts.” The resolution, adopted 14-0 Friday with the United States abstaining, requested the Secretary General and the Security Council President to renew efforts to free the “abducted” officers “in the shortest possible time.” Israel, insisting on a general POW exchange, boycotted the meetings leading up to the new resolution.
The new resolution repeated the request for the release of the captured officers that was contained in the Council’s June 26 resolution censuring Israel for its attacks on terrorist bases in Lebanon. The US abstained on the earlier resolution on grounds that it did not consider Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist incursions. But Panama, which was the only other Security Council member to abstain in the June 26 voting, cast its vote Friday for the resolution asking for the release of the prisoners. The Panamanian Ambassador, Didimo Rios, explained that his foreign ministry had instructed him to vote for the measure this time on grounds of principle.
Tekoah said Friday’s measure “would not have been adopted had it not been for the Security Council’s inherent disability to consider questions arising from the Middle East situation on their merits.” He cited “wide international understanding and support” for Israel’s backing of “efforts guided by the sole desire to bring about the release and repatriation of all prisoners, Israeli and Arab alike.” The resolution dealt only with the six captured Arabs, whom Israel calls prisoners of war.
The meeting was the last Council appearance by Syria’s ambassador, George J. Tomeh, who has been reassigned after seven years at the UN. He bowed out with a denunciation of Israeli “lawlessness.” The Council president, Ambassador Carlos Ortiz de Rozas of Argentina, complimented Dr. Tomeh for having won the respect of all his UN colleagues, even those who have opposed his views.