UNITED NATIONS (Oct. 14)
As the General Assembly prepared to conclude this year’s general debate this afternoon, diplomatic sources here noted that Israel was not treated as harshly as in last year’s Assembly, but said that the Arab bloc is preparing for a major assault on Israel in the UN after the American Presidential election Nov. 2.
Israel, the sources said, will be faced with a major attack equivalent to last year’s anti-Zionism offensive, but this year the issue will be the report of the 20-member Committee on Palestinian Rights which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state under the aegis of the PLO and the withdrawal of Israel from all Arab territories by June 1977. Israel, supported by the West, has rejected the Committee’s recommendations, terming them “a plan in stages for the destruction of Israel.”
So far, the 31st session of the General Assembly has shifted its focus from the Arab-Israeli conflict, that dominated the sessions of the last two years, to the problems in South Africa. While 30 percent of the speeches at last year’s debate were devoted to Israel and 50 percent of them dealt with the Mideast, the Mideast was excluded to a degree this year.
Diplomats here noted that of 98 non-Arab countries that participated in this year’s general debate about 27 did not mention the Mideast. Even those countries which referred to the Mideast did so, as one top Israeli diplomat said, “with no real desire to get down to the problem.”
MINI-VICTORY FOR ISRAEL
The speech by Soviet Foreign Minister Andrel Gromyko, for example, was much less aggressive than in former years in dealing with Israel, and contrary to last year, mentioned Israel by name and ignored the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Even China, a long-time master of anti-Israel rhetoric, showed moderation on Israel and did not mention the Jewish State and very briefly referred to the Mideast conflict.
All in all, diplomats here, among them Israelis, point to a gradual change in the atmosphere toward Israel and suggest even a “mini victory” for Israel in its diplomatic war with the PLO at the UN.
The decline of the PLO at the UN is indicated, according to diplomats, by the fact that the PLO was not mentioned by the majority of the countries and, in addition, it was not given the right to participate in the general debate by the ruling of the President of the General Assembly, Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe of Sri Lanka. Analysts at the UN observed that the decline of the PLO, a direct consequence of the Lebanese civil war, presents a new opportunity for the return of King Hussein of Jordan as a viable partner in Mideast negotiations.
Another positive development at the UN this year was the call by West Germany to draft a convention that would bar the taking of hostages and making sure that the perpetrators of such an act are either extradited or brought to trial in the country where they are apprehended. While no opposition was raised to that suggestion, diplomatic sources here indicated the probability that the move will be sabotaged by the Arabs at a later stage when it is brought up for discussion in the relevant committee. The sources also observed that the Arabs will try to revive at a later date the Zionism-is-racism resolution.