JERUSALEM (Jan. 7)
Government officials here have reacted bitterly to the U.N. Security Council’s harsh condemnation of Israel for ordering the deportation of 12 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
While few Israeli officials were surprised by the U.S. decision to support the council’s action Monday evening, several were miffed that U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering reportedly played an active role in drafting the language of the resolution, said to be the harshest ever used against the Jewish state.
In the resolution, the U.N. body said it “strongly condemns the decision of Israel, the occupying power, to resume deportations of Palestinian civilians.”
The deportations were ordered by Defense Minister Moshe Arens on Jan. 2, following the fatal shooting of an Israeli civilian, Doron Shushan, on New Year’s Day. But the expulsions have not yet been carried out, in order to give the 12 Palestinians time to appeal before the Israeli military courts.
The 12 Palestinians have asked the High Court of Justice to order the military appeal boards to hear their cases in public, rather than behind closed doors, as is the usual practice.
Meanwhile, Palestinian resentment over the deportation order was said to have fueled large-scale riots Tuesday in Gaza City, in which one Palestinian was shot dead and at least three others wounded.
The rioting was the worst in some time. Two border police officers were hurt, one sustaining light to medium wounds by flying rocks.
There was also a rowdy out non-violent demonstration against the deportation order Tuesday in East Jerusalem. Protesters applauded the U.N. Security Council resolution.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir again vigorously defended the deportation order Tuesday in a meeting with the visiting archbishop of Canterbury, who is the worldwide leader of the Anglican Church.
According to Shamir spokesman Ehud Gol, the prime minister told Archbishop George Carey that Israel abhors “expulsion and imprisonment measures, but, unfortunately, we are forced to deal with murder and terror, and it is our obligation to counter this wave with appropriate measures.”
“At the same time,” Shamir was quoted as telling the Anglican cleric, “our consistent policy is to continue the peace efforts.”
It was the premier’s second such conversation this week with a leading religious figure. On Sunday, he delivered a similar accounting to Cardinal John O’Connor, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York.
TIME LIMIT IDEA FLOATED
Gol said part of Israel’s disappointment over Monday’s Security Council vote focused on the U.S. role. He said this would doubtless be articulated in ongoing diplomatic contacts.
The spokesman vowed that Israel’s actions against Palestinian terror would continue despite the Security Council condemnation.
But the Israel Defense Force chief of staff suggested Tuesday that Israel might consider setting a time limit on deportation orders, allowing Palestinians to return to the administered territories eventually.
Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the core of world criticism of the Israeli deportation orders is that they are irrevocable and permanent.
He said that Israel might mitigate that condemnation by making those deported eligible to return to the territories after a suitable length of time in exile.
In a radio interview, Barak said that while a fixed-time deportation might be a less effective deterrent to violence than an open-ended one, that loss might be offset by the benefit to Israel in terms of warding off worldwide condemnation.
The chief of staff was careful to stress, however, that he was merely voicing a “thought,” rather than an “operative proposal.”
Nevertheless, he appeared to suggest that the Israeli government would do well to reassess its deportation policy.
Dovish Knesset members were unimpressed, suspecting that Barak’s idea could be used to increase the number of deportations, since expulsions with time limits would be seen as a less severe form of punishment than open-ended ones.
Hawkish politicians were just as dubious, saying that what Israel needs is tougher security measures not weaker ones.