GENEVA (May. 10)
Israeli delegates to the World Health Organization’s annual assembly here were lobbying vigorously Tuesday for votes against a resolution criticizing Israel for allegedly providing inadequate health care for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Arab-sponsored draft resolution was adopted in committee Tuesday by a vote of 62-22, with 25 abstentions. The Israelis hope to muster a larger negative vote when the draft goes to the assembly plenum Wednesday.
The resolution states that the Israeli occupation of the territories is contradictory to the basic health requirements of the inhabitants. It also condemns Israel for inhumane practices against Palestinians in their current uprising.
If passed, it would be the first resolution containing a political paragraph not directly relating to health ever adopted by the WHO, a United Nations agency devoted to health issues.
The resolution would have the WHO “pay tribute to the uprising of the Palestinians and affirm its support for the Arab population in their efforts to recover their freedom and their land.”
The draft was opposed in committee by the United States, Western European countries and Australia. All of the South American countries abstained.
The head of the West German delegation, speaking for the Europeans, said they voted against the resolution in committee precisely because of its political nature.
VAST IMPROVEMENT IN HEALTH CARE
The Israelis anticipated an Arab attack on health care in the administered territories. Dr. Yitzchak Sever, the Israeli Health Ministry’s medical representative in the territories, told a news conference here Monday that Israel has instituted vast improvements in health services since it took control of the territories in 1967.
He said Israel has opened hospitals in the West Bank with departments for surgery, orthopedics and dialysis, which did not exist before.
He said hospitals in Ramallah and Nablus are fully equipped for surgery, but if complications arise, patients are transferred to Israeli hospitals. Fifteen Arab doctors from the West Bank and nine from the Gaza Strip are currently being trained in Israeli hospitals, he said.
Sever, a member of the Israeli delegation to the WHO assembly, complained that young Arab troublemakers have been creating havoc in hospitals in the administered territories since the Palestinian uprising began five months ago.