Behind the Headlines the Irrelevance of the United Nations

Nothing seemed more irrelevant and absurd in recent weeks than the 32nd United Nations General Assembly’s debates and resolutions on the Middle East. While developments of historic magnitude have been taking place in the Mideast itself, the United Nations, like a drug addict whose needs are detached from the real world and must be fulfilled, continued to adopt anti-Israeli resolutions.

Although the visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem and the ensuing developments captured the minds and hearts of people in every corner of the globe, the Assembly adopted resolution after resolution condemning Israel, thus demonstrating once again that the UN is a prisoner of the demons it created.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, which was reduced to a political zero as a result of Sadat’s peace initiative, continued to exert influence at the UN beyond any real proportion. In an unprecedented resolution, the Assembly decided to establish a PLO unit within the UN Secretariat, giving the terrorist organization another outlet–an official and expensive one–for its anti-Israeli propaganda.

In the view of diplomats and observers here, the United Nations is now in effect the major supporter of the PLO, providing it status and credibility, at the time when the organization is at a political and military nadir.

CORDIALITY TOWARD ISRAEL

But the astonishing developments in the Mideast did not bypass the world organization altogether. A new wave of cordiality toward Israel and its representatives at the UN was clearly evident. Ambassadors of African countries who have not maintained diplomatic ties with the Jewish State since the Yom Kippur War, congratulated Israeli Ambassador Chaim Herzog, some even indicating a desire to resume diplomatic relations.

The Soviet Union took a surprisingly moderate position toward Israel after Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, although, as diplomats noted here, other members of the Communist bloc continued in their virulent anti-Israeli expressions.

THE MOST DRAMATIC MOMENT

The most dramatic moment came when Herzog and the Egyptian UN Ambassador, Esmat Abdel Meguid, had their first face-to-face meeting. This “first” had followed another “first” that was a direct result of the new Mideast realities: Meguid walked out on the Syrian Ambassador at the Assembly after the Syrian sharply attacked Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem. It was the first instance of such a protest against a fellow Arab.

Out-distanced by events in the Mideast, Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, in a move that was considered as an attempt to keep the UN “in the picture,” called for a UN Mideast conference just a day after Sadat announced his plan for the Cairo conference. The Waldheim plan was dead almost immediately, after Israel turned down the invitation.

At the end of the 32nd General Assembly last week it was clear that the world organization is not capable of playing any constructive role as a mediator in the complex Mideast conflict. Controlled by conflicting interests, operating as if tomorrow is still yesterday, the United Nations was clearly obsolete in the face of the momentous events in the Mideast.

Summing up the “contributes” of this year’s Assembly to the happenings in the Mideast, Herzog said that the Assembly “took one more giant step on the path to oblivion.” He observed: “At a time when the first direct negotiations towards peace were taking place in the Middle East, this Assembly chose to ignore the precedent-shattering events as though they never were. While the world watched as old suspicions and barriers were broken down and rhetoric gave way to real dialogue, this Assembly reiterated its worn-out cliches in a string of resolutions of which not one mentioned it’s current peace efforts.”

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