U.S. Hits Politicization of “habitat” Conference
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U.S. Hits Politicization of “habitat” Conference

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The United States has sharply criticized a resolution obliquely criticizing Israel which was adopted in the closing minutes of the two-week long United Nations-sponsored “Habitat” Conference at Vancouver, B.C. The U.S. also warned that it would boycott such UN meetings in the future unless “extraneous politics” were excluded.

There was no direct reference to Israel or the Middle East in the resolution. There was, however, a reference to “all forms of racial discrimination referred to in the resolutions to adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.” That was viewed as an affirmation of support for last November’s General Assembly resolution linking Zionism with racism. The “Habitat” conference’s “Declaration of Principles” which incorporated the paragraph was adopted by an 89-15 vote with 10 abstentions. In addition to the United States, negative votes were cast by Australia. Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, West Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg. The Netherlands. New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.

After the vote, Christian A. Herter. Jr., acting head of the U.S. delegation, told the 135-nation conference that “There is good reason to believe that public esteem for the United Nations will be seriously impaired by this record.” Mordechai Kidron, the Israeli delegate, called the vote “a tragic situation which has nearly wrecked the conference and has resulted in a declaration that is merely a piece of paper.” He said the supporters of the declaration had “rammed their obsessions about Israel down our throats.”


Canada’s Urban Affairs Minister, Barney Danson, who was president of the conference, had earlier made an impassioned plea to Cuba, which introduced the resolution, and its other supporters to withdraw it. Danson, who is Jewish, said “politics should not be introduced into the conference.”

The conference earlier approved three other resolutions that were aimed at Israel. They called on the UN to investigate living conditions of Palestinian Arabs, denounced “intruders” on “occupied lands,” denounced settlements on “lands acquired through coercision and subjugation.” The Canada-Israel Committee issued an official statement denouncing the Palestine Liberation Organization for the destructive intrusion of politics into “Habitat.” Co-chairman Norman May said that the PLO and the Arab bloc were “seeking to pervert Habitat’s objectives by manipulating the conference for their own immoral purposes. They have abused Canada’s hospitality by the attempts to spread distortions and lies.” The U.S. and Israel walked out last week when the PLO representative spoke to the conference. Some 1500 persons held a demonstration in downtown Vancouver protesting the politicization of the conference by the PLO and their supporters.

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