UNITED NATIONS (Nov. 23)
The General Assembly adopted today a resolution by a vote of 118-2 with three abstentions calling on Israel to take immediate steps for the return of Palestinian refugees to the camps from which they were removed in Gaza Strip by Israel, and to provide for adequate shelter for their accommodation.
The resolution, which also called on Israel to desist from further removal of refugees and “destruction” of their shelters, referred to Israel’s actions in constructing new housing for the refugees in the Gaza Strip. Israel and Costa Rica voted against the resolution while the United States, Malawi and Papua New Guinea abstained.
In another resolution, adopted by the Assembly, the right of the refugees to return to their homes and camps in the territories taken by Israel since 1967 was reaffirmed. The resolution called on Israel to take immediate steps in this direction, and deplored Israel’s refusal to take such measures. The vote on the resolution was 118 in favor, with Israel and Costa Rica opposed, and Malawi and Papua New Guinea abstaining. The United States supported that resolution.
Taking the floor immediately after the vote, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Chaim Herzog, deplored the resolution calling on Israel to relocate the refugees from what he described “decent housing equipped with all the proper facilities available in modern dwellings,” to the hovels where they had lived before. “Can this Assembly call on these refugees with a clear conscience to return to those miserable shacks? Have you no heart?” the Israeli envoy asked.
The Assembly also adopted today three other resolutions dealing with the problem of refugees, with the financial situation of the UN Relief and Works Agency and with assistance to the refugees.
Toward the end of the discussion today about the refugees, the Libyan Ambassador Mansur Rashid Kikhia, took the floor to express reservations about the fact that Israel’s credential to this year’s General Assembly were approved by the credentials committee. Herzog, using his right of reply, said that he rejected out of hand the statement by the Libyan envoy who, Herzog said, claimed he was speaking on behalf of the Arab bloc at the UN. Herzog said the credentials of the Israeli delegation were “in due and proper order” and were found to be so by the credentials committee.
Herzog added, however, that he thanked the Libyan delegate for expressing the true Arab voice on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Israeli envoy said that in the last few days “we have heard all sorts of noises from the Arab world indicating, as it were, an interest in peace.” But Israel, Herzog said, has no illusions about “this verbal smokescreen designed to influence gullible visitors to the area,” The real approach of the Arabs was represented by the Libyan statement, Herzog said.