PARIS (Aug. 30)
Amid frequent shouted interruptions from Arab delegates, Israel sought today to explain its Aug. 10 interception of a Lebanese airliner as “an exceptional measure aimed at saving lives from Arab terrorism which endangers civil aviation.” That statement was made by Ambassador Amiel Najar, Israel’s delegate to the Extraordinary Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meeting in Rome before the delegates voted to condemn Israel.
While Najar’s explanation failed to ward off a condemnatory resolution, he managed to put on record every Arab attack on civil aviation. He was interrupted repeatedly by Arab delegates who threatened to record every alleged act of aggression by Israel. Conference chairman Walter Binaghi called a coffee break after failing to restore order by other means. He also asked Najar to cut short his account.
The Israeli delegate blamed George Habash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine for the alleged resurgence of aerial piracy. He said it was information that Habash was aboard the Lebanese Middle East Airlines flight that caused Israel to intercept the plane and force it to land at an Israeli military airfield. Najar said the draft resolution before the ICAO condemning Israel was “directed solely against a country which is fighting without respite to limit, halt and eliminate aerial terrorism.”
ISRAEL WARNED AGAINST FURTHER ACTIONS
Najar’s words were to no avail. The resolution finally adopted 87-1 with four abstentions stated that Israel “violated Lebanese airspace, jeopardized air traffic at Beirut civil airport and committed a serious act of unlawful interference with international civil aviation.”
The resolution recalled the censures already passed against Israel by both the UN Security Council and the ICAO for attacking Beirut airport in 1968, for shooting down a Libyan airliner over Sinai earlier this year and for seizing the Lebanese plane.
The resolution strongly condemned Israel for violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty; urgently called upon Israel to desist from committing acts of unlawful interference with international civil air transport and airports; and solemnly warned Israel that if it continued committing such acts, the Assembly will take further measures to protect international civil aviation against Israel. Four countries were absent from the voting: Venezuela, Cyprus, Costa Rica and South Vietnam.