NEW YORK (Aug. 22)
John Scali. the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said today that if Israel committed another act similar to its Aug. 10 interception of a Lebanese airliner, the U.S. would vote again to condemn it.
The U.S. felt the Israeli action aimed at capturing an Arab terrorist leader mistakenly believed aboard the airliner was a violation of international law, and that, “even if we do support Israel in many areas, this is the kind of practice which should not be tolerated,” Scali said in reply to questions on the NBC-TV “Today” show. He added, “And if it happens again under similar circumstances, we will do it once more.”
Scali denied, however, that his vote in the Security Council last week for a resolution condemning Israel for diverting the airliner signified any change of U.S. policy toward Israel. The vote, which was unanimous, was “focused on a single incident,” Scali said.
Asked about the possibility of imposing sanctions should Israel repeat the act, Scali said such measures were not very effective in solving major international problems. “Whether the United States would ever vote for sanctions against Israel would very much depend on the circumstances,” he said. He said he saw no sign that the U.S. would cease being a supplier of weapons to Israel or that the Russians would stop supplying the Arabs with weapons.
Scali denied that President Nixon has put the Middle East on the “back burner” in what the administration has referred to as “the year of Europe.” He said no single issue received more Presidential attention than the Middle East. Scali hinted possible new moves by Nixon to resolve the Middle East dispute, “not immediately, but in a matter of months.”