NEW YORK (Jan. 15)
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Chaim Herzog, charged today that there was an attempt at the current Security Council debate on the Middle East “to skirt the basic issue at the root of the problems in the Middle East, namely that of the right of the Jewish people to national sovereignty and the attitude of the Arab states to the existence of Israel.”
But the Israeli envoy, whose government is boycotting the debate because of the participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, intimated at a press conference here that the position taken by Egypt at the debate so far was not as extreme as that of the other Arab states.
Herzog noted a “move on Egypt’s part” on the issue of reconvening the Geneva conference and cited a sentence from the speech of the Egyptian UN Ambassador, Esmat Abdul Meguid, to the Council Tuesday that the Geneva talks should be resumed on the basis of the “previous meeting.” He also cited a recent remark attributed to President Anwar Sadat of Egypt that the Geneva parley should reconvene with its original participants. These did not include the PLO.
(President Sadat was reported to have said at a Cairo news conference this week that he did not favor changing Resolutions 242 and 338 because they are “the foundation of peace momentum in the Middle East.”)
ISRAEL’S BOYCOTT VINDICATED
Herzog said the course of the Security Council debate so far has vindicated Israel’s decision to boycott it. He said that during the sessions this week, Israel was threatened and coerced and the Arabs talked only about what Israel should give up without mentioning a word of what Israel would get. He affirmed that Israel was ready to attend the Geneva conference without preconditions with the participation of all of the original parties. He said the participation of other parties could be discussed at Geneva once the conference was reconvened.
Herzog accused Syria of using the Palestinians “as pawns to further the aims” of the Syrian government and that Syria had called for the Security Council debate–as a condition for its agreement to renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights–in order to divert world attention from the tragedy in Lebanon.
“It is no coincidence that parallel with the opening of this debate, we read of the stepping-up of the activities of the Palestinian units in Lebanon in the process of dismembering that state,” Herzog said. He noted that in the last few months more people have been killed in the fighting in Lebanon than Israel has lost in all of its wars.
It was learned here meanwhile that the Israeli Ambassador has been meeting with Security Council members whose countries maintain diplomatic ties with Israel to explain Israel’s position. A UN spokesman said today that it is not certain when the debate will conclude and said it was likely to continue to the end of this month. Herzog was scheduled to meet today with the Japanese Ambassador Shizuo Saito.