UNITED NATIONS (Nov. 14)
The Security Council consensus statement last Thursday was seen here by some observers over the weekend as a prelude to a debate in the General Assembly scheduled to begin tomorrow. The debate will consider a program to implement a 1974 resolution supporting the right of self-determination and national independence for the Palestinians and their right to “return to the homes and property from which they were uprooted.” (See P. 1 for related Security Council stories.)
The 1974 resolution was revived on Nov. 10, 1975, the same day the Assembly adopted the nefarious resolution equating Zionism with racism and another resolution sponsored by Egypt and 40 other countries inviting the Palestine Liberation Organization to take part “on an equal footing” with other parties in any Middle East peace conference.
The resolution dealing with the Palestinian rights called for the establishment of a 20-nation committee of the General Assembly, subsequently formalized as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to draft plans to implement the 1974 resolution. The measure, which was sponsored by 50 East European and Third World countries, was adopted by a vote of 93-18 with 27 abstentions.
The Committee was established at the initiative of the PLO which participated in all stages of the Committee’s deliberations, although it was not a member of the Committee, and influenced the proceedings to a point where the Committee’s recommendations are essentially a restatement of the PLO position.
DANGER OF 1974 RESOLUTION CITED
When the report by the Committee was considered last June by the Security Council, it was rejected by the Western powers and vetoed by the United States as “misguided” and totally devoid of balance. However, the consensus statement may very well have acted as a spur to the extremist Arab elements in the UN, including the PLO, to push with greater and renewed vigor for the adoption of the Committee’s recommendations, some observers noted.
The recommendations were overshadowed last year by the Zionism-equals-racism resolution but may now receive favorable responses from some of the Western nations in view of the consensus statement and the resolution adopted earlier last week condemning Israel’s “collaboration” with South Africa.
The danger of the Committee’s recommendations was highlighted in a report by Dr. Harris Schoenberg, B’nai B’rith deputy director for UN affairs, who stated: “Behind a facade of pseudo-legalistic formulations regarding the right of return and of self-determination, is a fundamental and retroactive challenge to Israel’s right to exist, one that ignores Israel’s sovereignty and laws.”
Schoenberg noted that the recommendations violated at least three articles of the UN Charter which deal with the need for a peaceful and just settlement of international disputes, the protection of sovereign equality the UN is supposed to afford its members, and the objectives of UN studies which are required to promote international cooperation in the political field and the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction.
The consensus statement is very likely, some observers noted, to influence the Assembly debate precisely because it deplored Israel’s establishment of settlements in the administered territories and could, by implication, be used by the Committee to assert that as the “legal” basis for its objectives. This was one of the reasons why Israel vigorously condemned the consensus statement which was the culmination of a request by Egypt to discuss the “explosive” situation on the West Bank, particularly Hebron.
WILL NOT BOW TO THREATS
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Chaim Herzog. denounced the statement as “illustrative of the biased selectivity, one-sidedness and political expediency” of the Security Council and a manifestation of “a modern international expression of anti-Semitism.” Continuing, he told the Security Council meeting: “A discussion such as we have had here and in other parts of the United Nations and to which we will be subjected to in the coming months have only one purpose and one effect–namely, putting off negotiations for peace.”
Herzog declared further: “Let me make it quite clear. No amount of threats, no amount of browbeating, no amount of biased and one-sided resolutions, no amount of anti-Semitic innuendos, will change our basic attitude or will influence us in any way. On the contrary, it can only strengthen our resolve to resist these attempts to impose solutions. We will not agree to any solution that is proposed here. The solution must be arrived at in direct negotiations between the states and parties to the conflict on the basis of mutual respect and recognition.”
Referring to a key section of the consensus statement which warned against “profanations of the Holy Places,” Herzog recalled the Yom Kippur eve incident in which “an Arab mob defiled and desecrated the Holy Scrolls of the Law which the Jewish people hold in reverence and sanctity more than anything else in the world.” Following this event, he noted, the Moslem leaders in the West Bank and in Israel publicly apologized for the act of desecration. Despite this, he added, the statement condemns Israel.