NEW YORK (Oct. 6)
The United States abstention on a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s military operation against Palestine Liberation Organization bases in Tunisia last week was assailed by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin,speaking on the CBS-TV “Face the Nation” program today, expressed disappointment over the U.S. abstention but was careful to avoid criticism of the Administration which initially termed the Israeli attack on the PLO headquarter as an understandable act of self-defense against terrorism.
“I appreciate very much what was said by the President immediately after the raid,” Rabin said. But, he added, “I’m sorry that the United States did not veto the resolution. I understand that there were other considerations, but the main blame is on the United Nations, which pretends to be a peaceful organization and does nothing against international terrorism.”
U.S. ‘CREDIBILITY HAS BEEN SHAKEN’
Charging that “American credibility has been shaken and the strength of America’s commitment in the war against terrorism is now in question,” the Presidents’ Conference chairman, Kenneth Bialkin, said “terrorists everywhere will take heart at America’s refusal to stand with Israel by vetoing the resolution.”
The UN resolution was approved by the Security Council last Friday night by a vote of 14-0. The United States was the lone member of the Council to abstain in supporting the resolution in which the Council “condemns vigorously the act of armed aggression perpetrated by Israel against Tunisian territory in flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and norms of conduct.”
The resolution also said the air attack on PLO headquarters in Tunisia would have a “serious effect” on efforts to bring about a resolution to the Middle East conflict; urgently requests UN member states to “take measures to dissuade Israel from resorting to such acts against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries” and declared that Tunisia has the right to reparations as a result of the loss of life and material damage inflicted during the attack.
Vernon Walters, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, said the Reagan Administration decided to not support the resolution because it “disproportionately” placed “all blame for this latest round of the rising spiral of violence in the Middle East onto one set of shoulders, while not also holding at fault those responsible for the terrorist acts which provoked it.”
“We must be absolutely explicit,” he continued, “in identifying the real threat all civilized peoples are facing. That threat it terrorism, and the failure adequately to address the subject prevents my government from supporting this resolution.” He also denied accusations from some Arab quarters that the United States participated in the raid.
The Israel attack early last Tuesday involved U.S.-supplied F-15 aircraft that travelled some 1,500 miles over the Mediterranean to strike at the PLO’s military and political headquarters at Hamman on the Tunisian coast, some 20 miles from the capital of Tunis. At least 60 persons were reported killed in the attack.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Binyamin Netanyahu, defended the raid. “A country,” he said, “cannot claim territorial sovereignty when it knowingly offers its country as a base for terrorism.” He said the attack was an attempt to “weaken and destroy the nerve center of world terrorism.”
SOME PROVISIONS WERE DROPPED
The UN resolution, while forcefully condemning the Israeli attack, failed to call for international sanctions against Israel, and a reference in a draft resolution condemning Israel’s “policy of state terrorism” was eliminated. Reports said the provisions were dropped for fear of a U.S. veto of the resolution.
In Israel, the Security Council resolution was denounced by a senior government official, Deputy Foreign Minister Roni Milo of the Likud bloc. “The UN’s hypocrisy has once against surfaced in that it seriously condemned the operation in Tunis while terror against Israel was not condemned.” Milo was referring to the murder of three Israelis in Cyprus last month, an act which is believed to have precipitated the attack in Tunisia.