UNITED NATIONS (Aug. 15)
As the Security Council debate entered its third day today, following a blistering attack yesterday by U.S. Ambassador John Scali on international terrorism which included a sharp rebuke of Israel’s interception of a Middle East Airlines plane last Friday, the Israeli delegation appeared less than happy. Observers here noted that Scali’s rebuke was sharper than expected and went beyond the declaration issued Saturday by the State Department. Observers also noted that Scali’s statement might have laid the groundwork for a U.S. veto of any resolution that would go beyond condemning Israel’s interception.
There was, nevertheless, some feeling that Scali’s statement reflected a heightening of an Administration squeeze on Israel to settle with the Arabs and also appeared to reflect, as one observer noted, a growing reluctance on the part of the U.S. to “bail out” Israel in the Security Council, especially so soon after the U.S. exercised its veto power last month to kill a resolution that would have strongly deplored Israel’s continuing occupation of Arab territories captured in the Six-Day War.
Scall told the Security Council yesterday that the U.S. “deplores this violation (the interception of the plane) of Lebanese sovereignty. We deplore this violation of the United Nations Charter and of the rule of law in international civil aviation.” The U.S. diplomat, who is this month’s Security Council president, noted that threats to safety of civil aviation have increased at an alarming rate in recent years and that ways must be found “to reduce and ultimately eliminate such threats.” He added that air travel “must no longer be a pawn in international conflicts.”
Noting that no lives were lost and material dam- age was incurred in the interception incident, Scali declared: “While this does not modify our concern, we strongly urge all parties to retain a sense of perspective and prevent this incident from leading to further reprisals and counter-reprisals. It is high, time to call a full stop to all such acts and related acts and threats of violence.”
LIKELY TO BRING COUNTER-ACTION
Scali noted that Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah had explained earlier to the Council that the reason for the interception was to apprehend individuals responsible for terrorist acts. One of the terrorists that was scheduled to be on the intercepted airliner but cancelled his trip at the last moment was Dr. George Habash, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Nevertheless, Scali continued, Israel’s action was “unjustified and likely only to bring about counter-action on an increasing scale,” He observed that the U.S. government “has been second to none in its condemnation of terrorism (and) in the search for new instruments of international law to counter terrorism….”
Effective action to control terrorism, Scali said, must “go forward within and not outside the law” and that this “imposes certain restraints or the methods governments can use to protect themselves against those who operate outside the law.” He recounted recent acts of terrorism, mentioning the attack in the Athens Airport in which three people were killed and 55 were injured, and the hijacking of the Japan Air Lines jumbo jet. The only other reference Scali made in this context was the downing by Israeli pilots of a Libyan commercial airliner over the Sinai Feb. 21 in which 106 people were killed.
Noting that the record of the United Nations in dealing with the overall problem of international terrorism “is not so far a record of which we can be proud,” Scali declared that the Council was now meeting “to deal with a specific complaint about a specific incident. It should deal, promptly with this complaint, on the basis of the facts, while keeping in perspective the broader Issue. Our task now is to unite on a resolution to express the common attitude of this world body toward the regrettable and deplorable incident under discussion.”