UNITED NATIONS (Apr. 25)
Ambassador John Scali believes that the Security Council’s resolution of April 21 condemning Israel for its commando raids on terrorist headquarters in Lebanon “did represent a small step forward” in that it also included for the first time, a condemnation of terrorist violence. For that reason, the U.S. refrained from vetoing the resolution, Scali explained in an interview on the CBS Morning News television program.
He said that another reason why the U.S. chose to abstain rather than exercise its veto power was that a veto “might have been seized on by the hard-liners and indeed some of the fanatics on the Arab side as a signal to launch attacks and propaganda against the United States, alleging that this proved American complicity in the Israeli raid in Lebanon.”
The U.S. envoy said he thought there are “definite risks” in the Security Council’s decision to undertake a general review of the Middle East situation next month. “I am concerned lest the review serve as a take-off point and as a forum for ventilating and exchanging one-sided accusations and remarks of the kind that heat up the diplomatic atmosphere rather than cool it down.” He said that if the review is a calm discussion of “what to do and where the next step should be, then conceivably it could be a step forward. But I’m not bursting with optimism that this will be the case,” Scali added.
He did not deny directly that his use of the word “even-handed” and his condemnation of “the cycle of violence and counter-violence” in his Security Council statements before the April 21 vote, signaled “a new, slightly cooler approach to Israel” by the U.S. “My remarks were very carefully phrased and measured. They were meant to reflect a determination and a readiness to be fair and open-minded in seeking to encourage both sides to negotiate,” he said. He added that they “were not intended to signal any shift in emphasis.”
U.S. TALKING CANDIDLY TO ISRAEL
Scali said the U.S. has been talking “very candidly” with the Israeli government but would not say if it has advised Israel not to conduct future raids such as the one on Beirut, “They (the Israelis) understand our views,” he said.
The Ambassador denied that Arab oil pressures affected American Middle East policies. “Let me say that our energy crisis and the fact that most of the oil is in the Arab countries will not ever be a determining factor in what our policy should be in this part of the world.”
Referring to his exchange with the Soviet UN Ambassador Yakov Malik over arms shipments to the Middle East, Scali said he was “a bit annoyed” by the contention that the only arms going into the Middle East were American arms sent to Israel.
He said the Russians have shipped more late model MIG planes to Syria in the past several months than they did all of last year. Scali stressed that U.S. weapons shipments to Israel “are intended to keep an arms balance in the area” and are “not intended in any way to encourage anything that Israel might have in mind–not that they have anything in mind, that we know of–in the way of offensive action.”