HAMBURG (Jun. 19)
Delegates to the 19th Congress of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) voted 73-32 in a secret ballot here today to reject an Arab initiative to expel Israel from the organization. There were 15 abstentions.
The vote was on a West German motion to remove the Arab proposal from the agenda. Western diplomats said later that the outcome was a major political success for Israel which was strongly supported by the West, especially the United States.
State Department spokesman John Hughes warned in Washington last week that if Israel was expelled from the UPU the U.S. would “immediately” pull its delegation out of the Congress, suspend its participation in the UPU and withhold payment to the organization. The vote by secret ballot was considered another factor in Israel’s favor.
The expulsion move was initiated by the 16-member Arab Postal Union because of Israel’s continued occupation of south Lebanon and its “refusal to implement UN resolutions concerning the Palestinian question.” Egyptian diplomats indicated before the vote that they would not support the ouster of Israel.
But the Israelis and their friends had been deeply concerned by the attempt. The expulsion of South Africa from the UPU was a precedent and while the same treatment of Israel would have few if any practical effects on its international mail contracts, it would have been a major political and diplomatic blow.
ISRAELIS LOBBIED VIGOROUSLY
The Israelis feared furthermore that if the Arab move succeeded it would encourage new Arab initiatives to have Israel expelled from other international forums and organizations. The Israelis lobbied vigorously before the Congress opened here Monday. Its delegation, headed by Eytan Lachman, director of postal services at the Communications Ministry, was beefed up by the presence of Pinchas Eliav, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry and Ambassador Efraim Dubek, the Israeli representative to the various UN organizations based in Geneva where UPU headquarters are located.
Before the Congress opened, West Germany’s Deputy Minister of Communications, Wilfried Florian, warned that attempts were being made to politicize the UPU.
The UPU, with a membership of 166 nations, is the world’s largest international organization. Only 120 of them participated in today’s vote. Forty-three countries did not send delegations to the Congress.