JERUSALEM (Mar. 2)
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement today declaring that there was no justification for the resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied territories which the UN Security Council adopted unanimously yesterday. The statement said that Jewish settlements in Judaea and Samaria are not only Israel’s right but part of its defense system and expressed regret that the United States supported the resolution.
The Foreign Ministry stressed that one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions do not contribute to the peace process. The statement was the first and, for the time being, the only official reaction here to the Security Council’s vote. The Cabinet, which was to have discussed the matter today, postponed its regular session so that the ministers could attend the funeral of former Foreign Minister Yigal Allon. The session probably would have been cancelled in any event because of the severe snow storm that paralyzed Jerusalem.
Political analysts here described the American vote in the Security Council as a grave development in U.S.-Israeli, relations. Although the U.S. has always maintained that the settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace, this was the first time it supported a Security Council resolution to that effect. The U.S. abstained last year when a similar condemnation of Israel’s settlement policy was voted on by the Security Council.
According to the analysts, Israel has apparently exhausted what little credit its settlement policy had in the U.S. They attribute this to the fact that Washington is in the midst of an all-out effort to recruit the support of the Arab world in the face of Soviet aggression in Afghanistan and the continuing problem of the American hostages in Fran. The feeling here is that the American vote was a clear sign that if Israel continued its present settlement policy, its status in Washington would deteriorate even further.
The question here today was whether the American vote would soften the government’s position on settlements or have the contrary effect of uniting hawks and doves behind a tougher, more determined settlement policy. One indication will be the Cabinet’s decision on the issue of resettling Jews in Hebron. The Cabinet has twice deferred discussion of that matter and was supposed to have taken it up at today’s session. it had been expected to adopt a compromise favored by Premier Menachem Begin that would establish a yeshiva in Hebron but not locate Jewish families there for the time being. The Security Council debate on the settlements was originally prompted by the Hebron issue. Yesterday’s resolution, which was taken up at the request of Morocco and Jordan, strongly deplored Israel’s refusal to permit the Mayor of Hebron, Fahed Kawasme, to travel to New York to testify before the Security Council.
The resolution, which was worked out in private consultations with the participation of U.S. Ambassador Donald McHenry, contained some of the strongest rebukes ever administered to Israel. It stated that all measures by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and status of the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity.
Israel’s policy and practice of settling its nationals in the territories was condemned as a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war and a serious obstruction to the peace process in the Middle East.
McHenry did not participate in the preliminary debate. But after casting his vote be declared, “We regard settlements in the occupied territories as illegal under international law, and we consider them to be an obstacle to the successful outcome to the current negotiations, which are aimed at a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
ROLE OF U.S. DENOUNCED
Yehuda Blum, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, said the Council was ignoring his country’s fundamental right to self-preservation and legitimate concern for defense and security. “The resolution which has just been adopted is the product of various partisan interests, including political expediency of one form or another;” he declared.
Ephraim Evron, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, met with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance-shortly before the Security Council voted on the resolution in a last-minute effort to persuade the U.S. to oppose the resolution, according to Israeli officials in Washington. After the vote, the officials reportedly criticized the resolution as “one-sided” and accused the U.S. of “going along with Israel’s enemies.”
Meanwhile, two Jewish leaders sent telegrams to President Carter protesting the U.S. vote. Theodore Mann chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in his telegram, called the U.S. vote “a heavy-handed interference in the autonomy negotiations going for beyond the Camp David accords we are pledged to support.”
“Mann told Carter that “I am worried about my country. I am beginning to doubt its good sense, its resolve and its ability to discern right from wrong. When American citizens are being held hostage by terrorists in Bogota and Teheran, we have joined the Soviet Union in condemning the one country in the world most vulnerable to terrorism from taking active steps to prevent it. We should be attacking terrorists, not its victims.”
The other telegram to Carter was from Ivan Novick, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who said Carter’s “decision brings us tragic memories of appeasement at a time when a strong America must show its resolve as a free nation in a hostile world.” He told the President that “your action is counter-productive to the decisions made in good faith at Camp David by capitulating to the rejectionist front representing the worst elements opposing the peace process between Egypt and Israel.”
Maxwell Greenberg, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, issued a statement today expressing dismay at the U.S. vote in the Security Council: “U.S. acceptance of a resolution sponsored and promoted by those nations which reject the Egypt-Israel peace accord raises grave concern that the U.S. is again abandoning a trusted ally. The resolution is biased in that it makes no reference to Israel’s needs for security and self-defense, needs recognized in the Camp David accords and in UN Resolution 242.”