UNITED NATIONS (Dec. 8)
The Israeli government requested Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar today to cancel any arrangements that may have been made to give Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat and his troops safe conduct from Tripoli in northern Lebanon, under the United Nations flag. But the Secretary General demurred, stating that the UN undertaking was on “purely humanitarian grounds.”
The request was made by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Yehuda Blum, who spoke during the General Assembly debate on the Middle East. He said that in light of the “horrendous crime perpetrated by Arafat’s terrorists” in Jerusalem Tuesday, in which four people were killed and 46 civilians injured, “it is inconceivable that the UN, which is ostensibly dedicated to the preservation of human life and the enhancement of peace, should provide the terrorists with any assistance or facilities whatsoever.”
An identical letter was sent yesterday by Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir to de Cuellar. There was no hint in Shamir’s letter whether Israel proposed to act independently to prevent Arafat’s departure, as Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai and Minister Without Portfolio Ariel Sharon have proposed.
ABUSING THE UN FLAG
Blum’s reference was to the Jerusalem bus bombing for which the PLO claimed responsibility. The Israeli envoy recalled that last year Arafat “and his fellow terrorists were permitted to leave Lebanon on condition that they not return. Nevertheless, in spite of Arafat’s commitment we find him in Lebanon again. Under the pretense of leaving Tripoli in order to prevent additional civilian casualties, but actually in order to save his own skin, Arafat seeks in this year’s exodus from Lebanon to be extricated once again, this time by abusing the UN flag.”
The Secretary General, responding in a statement issued through his spokesman, said: “The reason for authorization of the use of the UN flag was on purely humanitarian grounds to facilitate the resolution of the situation which has already cost many innocent lives and created great destruction.”