PARIS (Nov. 23)
Arab states, led by Syria and Iraq, backed off from an attempt to bar Israel from participating in a special session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which opened here today. Syria said the Arab countries would not press the issue after they failed to persuade the credentials committee not to accept the Israeli delegation.
The credentials committee voted overwhelmingly to approve Israel’s credentials, including its non-aligned members which had been expected to back the Arabs. The United States warned, before the voting, that it would not pay its share of the UNESCO budget if Israel was excluded.
The U.S. contributes 25 percent of the agency’s $200 million annual budget. Western delegates suggested that most of the Arab countries may have wanted to avoid a showdown while their governments seem to support President Reagan’s Middle East initiative.
But the Syrian delegate, who attacked Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, said the matter of Israel’s participation would be raised at UNESCO’s next general conference. The Arab states were successful in their efforts to have Israel’s credentials rejected at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting in Vienna last month. As a result, the United States suspended its contributions to the IAEA in protest.
Subsequent Arab attempts to have Israel suspended from the UN General Assembly and from an International Telecommunications Union conference in Nairobi, Kenya were dropped after the U.S. threatened to withdraw from both bodies if Israel were expelled.