UNITED NATIONS (Apr. 28)
The General Assembly adopted a resolution today declaring that Israel “is not a peace-loving member state” and demanding international sanctions against it. The vote was 86-20 with 36 abstentions. Voting in favor were the Arab countries, except Egypt which abstained, the Communist bloc and Third World nations.
The opposition voters included the United States, whose representative branded the resolution.”an ill-inspired, offensive document” that would harm the UN, and all of the Western bloc nations, except Greece which departed from its fellow European Economic Community (EEC) members, and supported the resolution.
Abstaining were most South American countries, a few African states and Japan. Among the South American abstainers were Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Panama.
Today’s vote concluded the debate on the “Palestinian question” which the General Assembly had been conducting in emergency session. The harshly worded resolution was somewhat softer than an earlier proposed draft which called for a review of Israel’s status in the General Assembly when it holds its next regular session in September. That call was withdrawn.
But one provision of the resolution adopted today declared that Israel “has carried out neither its obligations under the (UN) Charter nor its commitment under General Assembly Resolution 273 of 11 May, 1949.” Resolution 273 was the one by which Israel was admitted to membership in the UN.
Israeli diplomats said today that by declaring that Israel did not fulfill its obligations, under Resolution 273, the Arab states were preparing the ground for suspension of Israel from the General Assembly in the future.
The resolution also condemned Israel for its “repressive measures” in the occupied territories, called for the establishment of a Palestinian state and called on the entire UN membership “to renounce the policy of providing Israel with military, economic and political assistance.”
ISRAEL, EGYPT CONDEMN RESOLUTION
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Yehuda Blum, speaking before the vote, characterized the resolution as a “despicable, mendacious concoction” and denounced those who would vote for it as “moral perverts.” He said Israel’s enemies had “hijacked” the UN and turned it into an “anti-peace organization.”
The Egyptian Ambassador, Esmat Abdel Meguid, said the draft resolution did not advance the cause of the Palestinians “a single inch” as it varied little from the wording of some 300 resolutions previously adopted on the question. He said for that reason, Egypt would abstain.
Meguid added that the resolution contained certain negative and critical provisions which disrupted the delicate balance and ignored, with out reason, Security Council Resolution 242 which is, he said, “a valid point of departure” toward a settlement in the Middle East.
The Egyptian envoy further observed that Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai marked a significant step forward in the Middle East peace process and provided a new incentive toward a just solution in the area.
William Sherman, the U.S. representative, who spoke before the vote, said that with this resolution the UN was pushed one step closer to a precipice beyond which looms “a political and moral abyss.” He said the resolution was intended to Intensify the struggle against Israel and not to promote peace and was there fore contrary to the purposes of the UN Charter.
Sherman noted that Israel completed its with drawal from Sinai only a few days ago and asked: “But where in the resolution now before us is note taken of this hopeful development? On the contrary, the state that withdrew from occupied territory for the sake of peace is vilified as not a peace-loving member-state, language never used against any other member-state of the UN and intended, as we all know, to question the legitimacy of Israel’s membership in this body.”
The American representative added: “Can the UN prevent the further erosion of its reputation if the General Assembly abuses its authority and the Charter in pursuit of this single-minded and self destructive vendetta against Israel?”
Sherman spoke out strongly against the clause of the resolution that condemned the U.S. for vetoing Security Council resolutions on Palestinian rights. He said that clause, aimed against the exercise by the U.S. of its constitutional prerogative of voting against resolutions which in the U.S. view could harm the cause of peace, was “profoundly and specifically hostile” to the U.S.
The entire resolution, he said, “is an ill inspired, offensive document that will re-enforce an attitude of cynicism toward the General Assembly and thus to the UN itself among people of good will.”
Blum, in his remarks before the vote, declared: “Today the people of Israel and the Jewish people around the world celebrate the 34th anniversary of the restoration of Jewish independence in our homeland after 19 centuries of persecution, exile and desperation. On their behalf, let me tell the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people that no amount of distortion, fabrication, bigotry and hallucinations in this building can undo so central a fact of the political, spiritual, cultural and religious history of the world, as the inseparable bond between the Jewish people and its land.”