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New U.N. Envoy Headed for Mideast to Help Resolve Deportation Issue

U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali is sending another emissary to the Middle East in connection with Israel’s deportation last month of 415 Islamic fundamentalist activists to Lebanon.

The envoy, Chinmaya Gharekhan, was due to arrive in Israel on Thursday evening. Gharekhan retired as India’s U.N. representative at the end of December and has been named the U.N. delegate to the multilateral peace talks on Middle East regional issues.

The decision to send Gharekhan to the region follows the failure of U.N. Undersecretary-General James Jonah to resolve any aspects of the situation, including the refusal of both Lebanon and Israel to permit humanitarian aid to the deportees.

In a letter to the president of the Security Council, Boutros-Ghali said the failure of Jonah’s mission “is attributable primarily to Israel’s unwillingness to comply with Resolution 799,” which called on the Jewish state to reverse the deportations.

While U.N. missions are seldom welcomed by Israel, diplomatic sources quoted by the Israeli press have put a positive spin on the new special envoy.

They say it reflects the desire of Boutros-Ghali to keep the issue of the deportations off the Security Council’s agenda for the time being. The issue had been expected to resurface upon special envoy Jonah’s return this week.

Were the Security Council to take up the issue again, following its failure to reverse Israel’s action with its “strong” condemnation Dec. 18, it might consider sanctions against the Jewish state, as urged by some non-aligned nations.

Such a move would likely draw an American veto.

For the secretary-general, continued discussion of the deportees distracts the world body’s attention from the areas he considers to be of more concern, among them Somalia and the former republics of Yugoslavia.

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