UNITED NATIONS (Oct. 14)
Yasir Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, will not come to address the special commemorative session for the 40th anniversary of the United Nations.
This became a fact today after a draft resolution proposing that Arafat be invited to take part in the 40th anniversary commemoration was withdrawn.
The decision of the sponsors of the resolution — India, Iraq, Kuwait, Nigeria, Senegal and Yemen — to withdraw their proposal came after intense diplomatic lobbying and pressure over the weekend, especially by the United States and other Western countries. The United States, according to diplomatic sources, warned that if Arafat was invited, President Reagan would not come to address the special session.
Diplomats here today described the turn of events as a severe blow to the prestige of the PLO, which has observer status at the UN. Arafat appeared once before at a General Assembly session in November, 1974.
The announcement of the withdrawal of the draft resolution was made at the opening of the commemorative session today by General Assembly President Jaime de Pinies of Spain.
STATEMENT OF ISRAEL’S AMBASSADOR
After the announcement was made, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Binyamin Netanyahu, issued the following statement:
“The removal of the proposal to invite the international terror organization of the PLO and its leader, Yasir Arafat to the 40th anniversary celebration of the UN is a sign of a soberizing process in the Western world regarding the real nature of the PLO and the moral distortion which such an invitation to Arafat would have constituted. The UN would have fulfilled its real obligation by bringing the PLO and Arafat to an international court that would judge them for their terrible crimes against the Jewish people and humanity.”
Diplomats here noted that Arafat, theoretically, can still be invited to the UN General Assembly to participate in the Middle East debate and the debate on the Palestinian issue after the special anniversary session ends.
Another possibility, though very remote according to the diplomats, is that the Arabs and their allies will introduce a new resolution in the next few days to invite Arafat to the special anniversary session.
Israeli sources declared today that the decision not to introduce the resolution inviting Arafat was the result of intense pressure by the U.S., by leaders of other Western countries, by Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar and by the President of the General Assembly.
The Assembly was scheduled to vote on the resolution Friday but because of this pressure, which included diplomatic contacts in various capitals in which Israeli diplomats participated, the decision was made to postpone the vote until Monday.
CANADA PLAYED A LEADING ROLE
A leading force in these efforts to remove the draft resolution was Canada, according to diplomats. Canada made it clear that its Prime Minister would not participate in the anniversary session if Arafat was invited.
Canada, it was noted, has good ties with Third World countries and exerted its influence with them. Major Western European countries had contacts with Third World countries, explaining to them that to invite Arafat would in effect destroy the 40th anniversary session and would have a severe impact on the future operations of the UN and its credibility.
When Assembly President de Pinies announced today that the resolution was removed, most of the Arab countries and the sponsors of the resolution were absent from the hall. Only a few Western countries, the U.S. and Israel, were present. “There was a clear feeling of defeat for the Arabs in the General Assembly hall this morning,” a top Israeli diplomat said.
The commemorative session, which opened today, will last two weeks. It will be addressed by more than 80 heads of state and governments, among them President Reagan and Israel’s Premier, Shimon Peres.