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Israel Strengthened, but Concerned by U.N. Vote on Terrorism Conference

Israel cast the sole vote in the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday night against an amended resolution on international terrorism.

But the resolution as adopted by the General Assembly is seen as a partial diplomatic victory for Israel.

It is also seen as a blow to the resolution’s sponsor, Syria, which was forced to compromise on an initial proposal that called on the United Nations to convene an international conference to define the differences between terrorism and legitimate struggles for national liberation.

By agreeing Tuesday to submit a watered-down version of their proposal, the Syrians appeared to be giving in to pressure from the Soviet Union and Third World countries, who agreed with Israel and Western countries that Syria’s original proposal would confer legitimacy on international terrorism.

The compromise resolution condemns terrorism and calls on member states to seek means to combat it. Yet it still includes the possibility of calling an international conference.

Voting in favor of the amended proposal were 128 members of the General Assembly. The United States abstained.

‘KILLED, BUT DID NOT BURY’ CONFERENCE

Israel’s chief representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Benjamin Netanyahu, explained Israel’s opposition to the amended proposal by saying that the General Assembly “killed, but did not bury” the idea of an international conference on terrorism.

According to a statement released by the Israel Mission’s press office, Netanyahu said that Syria was trying to use the international conference to “justify terrorism by putting it under the banner of national liberation.”

“The Syrians were caught and exposed in London and West Berlin for participating in terrorism. Now they want to say that those acts were not crimes, but acts of national liberation under the sponsorship of the U.N.,” said Eyal Arad, the Israel Mission spokesman.

Israel contends that “the cause has no relevance to criminal means,” said Arad.

The pressure put on Syria to amend its proposal is seen by the Israel Mission and others as a further strengthening of Israel’s position within a body traditionally hostile to its interests. Just last month, the United Nations agreed to open its files on more than 40,000 suspected Nazi war criminals, capping a string of diplomatic victories for Israel.

Those include a failure this year by Iraq to introduce its annual resolution condemning Israel for the 1981 raid on its nuclear installation in Baghdad and the exclusion of Israel from a resolution condemning countries for their cooperation with the South African government.

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