Menu JTA Search

Israelis Expect UN War Crimes Files to Be Open to Public Soon

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Israeli diplomats here told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Monday that they expect all of the former members of the United Nations War Crimes Commission will soon support Israel’s request for opening to the public the UN files on Nazi war criminals.

Only six countries out of the 17-member Commission still oppose the opening of the files. They are Britain, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, India and Poland. “We have reason to believe that these countries will soon announce that they have changed their position in favor of opening of the files,” an Israeli diplomat said.

Asked how long “soon” meant, he said a matter of months.

Last week five nations — Belgium, China, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Norway — informed Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar that they changed their initial position and would join six other nations that have already come out publicly in support of opening the files to public inspection. The five nations joined Australia, Denmark, Greece, Holland, the U.S. and Yugoslavia.

The announcement last week represented a victory for Israel and followed a major campaign on the part of the Israelis to win the support of the governments concerned on behalf of opening the files. When Israel started its campaign last year, only Australia supported its request to grant the public free access to the files.

The Israeli diplomats noted Monday that although there is a majority now among the former members of the War Crimes Commission for opening of the files, the final authority on opening the files to the public is in the hands of the UN Secretary General.

The UN files on Nazi war criminals are stored in an archive in Manhattan. The archive reportedly contains 40,000 files. Israel has already inspected several thousand files under the rule that permits governments who are members at the UN to inspect any file on a confidential basis.

NEXT STORY