UNITED NATIONS (Feb. 28)
The International Civil Aviation Organization by an almost unanimous vote, today condemned Israel for downing a Libyan airliner over Sinal Feb. 21 and called on the United Nations Secretary General to initiate an immediate investigation. The ICAO voted 105-1 in favor of the Egyptian draft resolution condemning Israel. The lone dissenting vote was cast by Israel. Two states–Colombia and Malawi–abstained, and four, including Libya, were absent from the General Assembly Hall when the vote was taken.
An attempt by the United States to soften the language of the resolution by substituting the word “deploring” for “condemning” was quashed before the American proposal came to a vote. The U.S. delegate, Mrs. B.C. Dillone, argued that there could be no condemnation before an investigation and warned that use of that term might prejudice the investigation and effect its impartiality. But she withdraw her motion at the behest of the British, Belgian and other delegates who asked her to do so in order to avoid a new controversy.
The text of the resolution as adopted was virtually identical with that of the Egyptian draft, submitted at the opening of the ICAO’s 19th session yesterday. Only one word was changed, at the insistence of the resolution’s 21 Arab and Afro-Asian co-sponsors. The final paragraph of the resolution which called on all parties involved to “cooperate fully” in the investigation, was altered to read, “cooperate unreservedly.”
DORON: TRAGEDY DID NOT OCCUR IN VACUUM
The vote was preceded by a lengthy debate during which more than 40 nations were heard from, most of them condemning the Israeli action. The Israeli delegate, Yaacov Doron, reiterated Israel’s sorrow over the loss of 106 lives but observed that the tragedy did not occur in a vacuum.
He said the chain of errors that led to the downing of the commercial airliner resulted in part from widespread Arab terrorist outrages against Israel. He cited the Lod Airport massacre and the murder of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes at Munich last Sept., and noted that the Black September organization which committed the Munich outrage received a $5 million “reward” from the Libyan government.
Doron said that in view of past terrorist acts and threats of new ones, the Israeli pilots who shot down the airliner were suspicious of its intrusion into Israeli air space. He also blamed the pilot of the Libyan plane and the Cairo control tower for the tragedy. He noted that Israel will offer payment to the families of the victims.
The Egyptian delegate, Foad K. Moursy, described the Sinai incident as a “tragic murder” and said that Israel had issued contradictory statements to hide its responsibility. The Egyptian claimed that there was clear evidence “that the Israeli fighters shot the civilian airplane without warning.” He called the incident “a slaughter” and “murder in cold blood.”
B.M. Morozov, the Soviet delegate, expressed-deep sorrow over the loss of lives. He said the incident was one further. “act of terrorism” by Israel, Y.M. Lambert of France, said the French government solemnly protests and condemns the incident. The Syrian delegate claimed that shooting down the plane was “a deliberate act” by the Israelis.
The delegate from Guinea-said the ICAO has never faced such a “flagrant violation of its rules.” He announced that Guinea was co-sponsoring the Egyptian draft together with Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria. Uganda, Tanzania, Yemen, Chad, Niger, Tunisia and India.