GENEVA (May. 18)
The World Health Organization has rejected a report by a special fact-finding committee of its own creation which both praised and faulted Israel on the quality of health care for the Arab population on the occupied West Bank. Led by an Arab-Soviet bloc, the WHO annual assembly voted 65-18 yesterday in favor of a motion by India to shelve the report without considering it. The United States, Canada, Japan and most West European countries opposed the motion. France and Italy were among the 14 nations that abstained.
The U.S. representative, Dr. S. Paul Erlich Jr., noted later that this was the first time in his experience “that we have failed to consider a document submitted to the assembly.” The Israeli representative. Eytan Ronn, denounced the proceedings as a “kangaroo court.”
The report was submitted by a committee of three health experts from Rumania,Senegal and Indonesia. The WHO assembly selected those countries in 1973 to form a special committee to investigate health conditions in Israel-occupied territory.
Israel opposed the panel on grounds that it had formal diplomatic relations with only one of the members–Rumania. Subsequently, however. Israel authorities permitted the delegates to carry out their investigation on the West Bank on an individual basis. The three later prepared a joint report in Geneva.
WHAT THE REPORT SAID
It stated that there has been a “slow but steady” improvement in health conditions in the territories administered by Israel since 1967 and cited better treatment and prevention of illness and a decrease in-communicable diseases. On the other hand, the report noted that nursing care remained “inadequate both numerically and in terms of quality” and that “apparent or real deficiencies” existed in the supply of drugs, instruments and equipment.
The committee also-reported that while there was no appreciable increase in the number of hospitals and hospital bed in the territories, the reorganization of hospital departments and the creation of new ones represented “a step forward” in that “a considerable number of dispensaries and health centers had been established in the occupied territories.”
The report was critical of what it described as the “divorce between curative and preventive activities” in the public health sector and concluded that the Arab population could not be assured of a “state of complete physical, mental and social well being.”
Even though it contained such elements critical of Israel, sharp Arab opposition to the report was predicted when it was submitted earlier this month India moved for its rejection yesterday on grounds that the three expert had visited the territories on an individual basis and therefore “did not conform to the mandate” given the committee by the assembly. Rumania. Senegal and Indonesia voted for the Indian motion. In effect repudiating the experts of their own selection.