JERUSALEM (Nov. 24)
Israel today declared that she “totally rejects” the two Palestine resolutions adopted by the General Assembly Friday evening and the resolution censuring Israel on Jerusalem adopted by UNESCO in Paris These latest developments, each a serious political blow to Israel, were reviewed by Foreign Minister Yigal Allon at today’s Cabinet meeting, but the Cabinet postponed an in-depth discussion until a later date. Information Minister Aharon Yariv said no decision has been made as to whether Israel would pull out of UNESCO or end its financial contributions to that body. He did not rule out either possibility.
A Cabinet communique said the ministers were “unanimous in their belief that the UN General Assembly resolutions were lacking in moral validity and political justification and they in fact undermined the essence of the international body.” With regard to UNESCO, the communique said that “Israel will continue to build and develop Jerusalem. Israel’s capital. including research into its historic past, while preserving its unique and universal character.” (See separate UN and UNESCO stories.)
Israel’s first official response to the General Assembly vote was contained in a Foreign Ministry statement which said the resolutions “make a mockery of the spirit which moved the founders of the organization 29 years ago, after the defeat of Nazi tyranny.” Branding them a badge of shame for the UN, the statement said the resolutions “demonstrate the sad truth that the forum originally designed to be a platform for peace and brotherhood among nations has become a rostrum for the encouragement of terror and incitement to war.”
ENCOURAGED BY WEST EUROPEAN STATES
Israel’s bitter official reaction was tempered somewhat by private expressions of satisfaction by officials with the performance by a majority of the Western states which either abstained or voted with Israel against the resolutions. There were 37 abstentions on the first resolution, adopted 89-8. which, in effect, allows the Palestinians to employ any means to achieve their goals. The second resolution, according permanent observer status to the Palestine Liberation Organization, was adopted by a vote of 99-17 with 19 abstentions.
The Arabs and their allies had hoped for 120 of the 138 General Assembly votes and had expected at least to equal the 105 vote majority cast last month in favor of inviting the PLO to participate in the Palestine debate. There was some consolation here over the fact that the Arabs were denied that overwhelming majority. There were also cautious expressions of hope that the refusal by the Western powers to Jump on the pro-Palestine bandwagon might have signaled the start of a less subservient approach toward the Arab oil-producing states.
As one source put it today, the abstention by the European Common Market countries on grounds that the resolutions made no mention of Israel’s right to exist, might indicate their realization that appeasement of the Arabs, like the appeasement of Hitler 40 years ago, can only lead to disaster.
The Foreign Ministry’s statement acknowledged “the important role of those states ,which opposed the resolutions or abstained,” but added: “It must be recognized that enmity and hypocrisy, together with appeasement and surrender to blackmail have combined to reduce the UN General Assembly to the depths to which it has sunk….Israel totally rejects the resolutions. She regards them as invalid, harmful and unworthy of consideration,”
CONSIDERING LOCAL WEST BANK AUTONOMY
The statement concluded: “Israel will continue to strive for a Just and lasting peace with all her neighbors–a peace which will resolve the outstanding issues between herself and her neighbors -including that of finding a constructive expression for the identity of the Palestinians.”
In connection with the latter point. Information Minister Aharon Yariv said on a State Radio interview yesterday that Israel was willing to consider granting local autonomy in gradual stages to the 700.000 Palestinians on the West Bank, although it will have no dealings whatsoever under any circumstances with the PLO. Yariv suggested that eventually autonomy could lead to a federated status for the West Bank under which a settlement between Israel and Jordan might be reached.
Yariv viewed the UN votes as in effect “sanctioning the destruction and annihilation of the State of Israel.” He said that Israel should “weigh” the possibility of withdrawing from the UN in light of the two resolutions. But he cautioned. “We should not decide the matter without careful consideration.”