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UN Special Unit Votes 59-22 to Condemn Israel for Its Digs

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A United Nations special commission meeting here voted 59-22 tonight in favor of an Arab-sponsored resolution condemning Israel for its archeological digs and cultural activities in Jerusalem and reaffirming the continued application of UNESCO sanctions voted in 1974. There were eight abstentions. The United States and most Western countries voted against the resolution.

It still must be approved by the General Conference of UNESCO to become final. But that is considered a formality. Shortly before the vote, the head of the Israeli delegation, Ambassador Amiel Najar, warned the commission that Israel might have “to re-examine” its relationship with UNESCO if the sanctions were maintained. After the voting, Najar denounced the vote as “absurd and intolerable.”

U.S. EXPLAINS ITS SILENCE

The American delegation did not speak before the voting nor did it urge its traditional friends and allies to vote against the resolution. As a result, there was none of the high tension and drama that marked the 1974 voting after which the U.S. withheld its financial dues and hundreds of artists, writers and musicians refused to cooperate with UNESCO in protest against its “politization.”

But after the results were announced, the head of the U.S. delegation took the floor. He said: “My silence does not indicate the weakening of the American government’s opposition to sanction which we consider extra-constitutional, unfair and contrary to normal practice. We kept silent because important negotiations are taking place elsewhere and we did not want to inflame the debate which might have been prejudicial to these talks.”

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