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UN Sets Up Commission for Western Asia but Excludes Israel from Participation

The United Nations has established an Economic Commission for Western Asia under ground rules that would exclude Israel from all participation, despite American charges that the move is a violation of the UN charter. The UN Economic and Social Council adopted a Lebanese resolution setting up the new regional commission, designed to encourage cooperation among nations in the area. The vote was 33-8, with nine abstentions.

The effect of the resolution will be to put the official UN stamp on the political isolation of Israel from its neighbors. However, the practical economic impact is expected to be insignificant. Article 2 of the UN Charter establishes “the principle of the sovereign equality of all…members.” The Americans tried to postpone the establishment of the commission until a ruling on its legality could be obtained from the World Court, but the U.S. resolution was defeated.

The Lebanese resolution would exclude Israel from the new commission by opening membership only to those nations now using the services of the UN economic office in Beirut–the Arab states–and leaving it to these states to approve new members and decide which nations to invite as observers. Other regional economic commissions of the UN–for Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia-Far East–are open to all nations in the region, and any UN member can sit in as an observer. Commission expenses are paid out of the regular UN budget, to which Israel and all other nations contribute.

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