Partial Walkout of Arab Delegates at UN Conference During Israeli’s Speech

A partial walkout of Arab delegates took place yesterday at the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea when Israeli Ambassador Amiel Najar approached the rostrum to read Israel’s general statement. The heads of the Arab delegations left the hall while their deputies remained.

Najar called for “liberty and cooperation” as the two central approaches to future decisions on uses of the sea. Najar stressed Israel’s position on such questions as freedom of navigation on all seas, particularly through straits, fishing rights for small and developing nations and pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel had previously announced that it would oppose Arab demands for admission to the conference for the Palestine Liberation Organization and similar organizations on grounds that the UN General Assembly decided a year ago on the participants in the conference and that the decision could not be changed at this time.

Najar made no reference today to that dispute but the issue was raised by the Iraqi and Bulgarian delegates, who spoke before Najar did. Earlier this week, Lebanon announced its support for admission of the PLO. Khalil Haddad, head of the Lebanese delegation, argued that it was “incumbent on the international community” to allow the PLO and other “liberation” organizations to contribute to the formation of an international charter on the seas and their use.

The issue was raised at the start of the conference when the Organization for African Unity and the Arab League contended that the “liberation” movements represented national entities in embryo which should have a part in determining laws that would one day affect them as nations.

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