UNITED NATIONS (Jun. 13)
Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar will send an envoy to the Middle East “as soon as possible,” to report on the situation in Israel’s administered territories, it was announced here Wednesday.
The U.N. emissary will be making the trip at the invitation of the Israeli government, though it appears that plans were made for the trip before the Israeli invitation was issued.
Perez de Cuellar told reporters Wednesday that “an interesting coincidence” had occurred the day before, when he invited Israeli Ambassador Johanan Bein to see him to discuss the mission.
“When I was about to suggest my sending a mission to the area, at the same time Mr. Bein had instructions from his government to invite me to send a mission,” the secretary-general said.
The emissary will be Jean-Claude Aime of Haiti, who is a senior official in the secretary-general’s office with expertise in the Middle East. U.N. officials said that in addition to visiting Israel and the territories, he will travel to other countries in the region to discuss the peace process.
The decision by the new Israeli government to welcome the delegation is seen as meeting two objectives.
First, it is an attempt to stem Arab efforts to convene a special General Assembly session whose purpose would be to dispatch an international force to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Second, it will likely please the U.S. State Department, which has said it supports sending an emissary from the secretary-general’s office to review the situation in the territories.
A ‘GESTURE TO OUR REAL FRIENDS’
“We decided, as a gesture to our real friends, who are trying to calm the rhetoric in the U.N., to accept somebody who will travel to Israel in the framework of a tour of the area,” Elyakim Rubinstein, Israel’s Cabinet secretary, explained during a news conference Wednesday in New York.
Rubinstein, who is a senior adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, made the remark at a news conference during the 77th annual national commission meeting of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
Ambassador Bein told Israeli army radio Wednesday that the invitation was extended by the new Likud-led regime, because it is a “government of initiatives” and a “government of peace.”
But the Palestine Liberation Organization’s representative at the United Nations, Zehdi Terzi, told reporters that the Israeli invitation was a “cheap, under-the-belly blow, because they knew very well that the secretary-general will be sending a mission.”
He accused the Israelis of making it “appear that it is their own initiative in order to undercut the secretary-general and put him in a different framework and a different parameter of action.”