GENEVA (Jul. 24)
Israel scored a significant diplomatic victory in the United Nations when its Economic and Social Council, known as ECOSOC, voted Tuesday to admit the Jewish state as a full member of its Economic Commission for Europe.
Israel is its first non-European member.
The overwhelmingly favorable vote — 32-14, with four abstentions — was attributed to radically changed attitudes toward Israel in Eastern Europe and many Third World nations.
According to Yitzhak Lior, Israel’s U.N. ambassador here, Israel’s success was due in large measure to divisions among the Arab countries and erosion of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s influence since the Persian Gulf War.
Israel had been applying for membership in the ECOSOC panel, one of five regional commissions of the U.N. council, since 1986. It was always rejected because of objections from the Eastern bloc nations.
The matter was dropped until the Economic Commission for Europe, or ECE, met in April and adopted a statement saying it would gladly accept Israel if its parent body concurred.
The 54-nation ECOSOC is holding its biannual meeting here. Last Friday, Israel was accused at that forum of seizing water resources to the detriment of the Arab populations of the administered territories and neighboring countries.
The charge was based on a report prepared by ECOSOC’s Commission for Western Asia,
An entirely different atmosphere prevailed Tuesday when a statement was adopted saying, “The ECOSOC, considering the wide range of economic relations that exist between Israel and the ECE member states, decides to change the terms of reference of the ECOSOC by adding Israel to the list of members of the commission.”
Favorable votes were cast Tuesday by, among others, the Soviet Union, Ukraine, Japan and Turkey. Of the former Communist countries, only Yugoslavia was opposed.
Lior said the consensus was better than he had hoped for, considering it included the Eastern bloc and such African states as Cameroon, Rwanda and Kenya.
The envoy told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that last Friday evening he was approached by the Hungarian delegate, who told him, using the Hebrew Sabbath greeting: “We decided to sign on, Shabbat Shalom.”