PARIS (Aug. 25)
The Arab states and the Palestine Liberation Organization observer delegation intend to rap Israel for its recent initiatives in the administered territories during the forthcoming session of UNESCO’s Executive Council due to open here Sept. 12. The four Arab Council members–Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Libya–plan to attack Israel for extending Israeli educational and social services to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Arab delegates to UNESCO say this step “is a serious breach of UNESCO conventions and resolutions.” The Arab delegations have not yet announced whether they will propose a formal resolution condemning Israel.
Such a resolution could precipitate a new UNESCO crisis similar to that provoked two years ago when the UNESCO General Conference passed a resolution condemning Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and the occupied territories. Washington resumed this summer paying its dues after having suspended them for two years.
Both the PLO and Israel have observer status with the Council and are allowed to address the meeting only if issues affecting them directly have been raised by Council members. UNESCO officials who managed to reach a compromise toning down anti-Israeli Arab attacks at UNESCO’s last General Conference in Nairobi, openly express their anxiety at the possible consequences of an Arab attack next month.
One official privately said: “Another American (financial) withdrawal could spell our death toll.” The U.S. Congress decided to suspend its payments to UNESCO to protest against the cultural organization’s increasing “politization.”
Israeli officials in Paris say that should the Arabs present a formal anti-Israeli resolution it would go to show that “in spite of promises and half-statements, nothing is changed and the Arab position has remained as tough as ever.” A special Israeli delegation is due to come from Jerusalem to attend the meeting.