UN Council Requests Independent Inquiries into the Case of Mass ‘poisoning’ on the West Bank

The Security Council requested last night that Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar “conduct independent inquiries concerning the cause and effects of the serious problem of the reported case of poisoning (on the West Bank) and urgently report on the findings.”

The request was included in a statement issued by Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick of the U.S. who is this month’s president of the Security Council. The statement was the result of informal consultations among members of the Council last night after the Arab states called for an urgent meeting of the Council to discuss the “mass poisoning” of Palestinian schoolgirls on the West Bank. The Arabs requested a meeting yesterday in a letter to Kirkpatrick signed by Iraqi Ambassador Riyadh Al-Qaysi, who charged that the “mass poisoning” affected more than 1,000 schoolgirls and that Israel was responsible for it.

Yehuda Blum, Israel’s Ambassador, said last night that the Arab charges were “irresponsible and unfounded.” Blum also rejected the Council’s statement, claiming that the reference in it to “poisoning” was “completely unfounded.”

U.S. FAVORS COUNCIL’S STATEMENT

In Washington, meanwhile, State Department spokesman John Hughes said today that “we believe the Council’s statement was a constructive action which should reinforce the international effort already underway to determine the nature of these reported poisoning cases.” Hughes noted that at Israel’s request, the U.S. has sent a team from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization are also looking into the problem which has been investigated already by Israeli medical authorities. “Thus, the (UN) Secretary General is in a position to build upon a series of careful inquiries done by competent specialists and to carry on in the same spirit,” Hughes said.

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