UNITED NATIONS (Jan. 27)
Israel has managed to stave off until Monday a Security Council debate that could lead to the first-ever U.N. sanctions against the Jewish state.
The council’s planned discussion of further measures against Israel follows a harsh report issued Monday by U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
The report criticized Israel for failing to accede to the demands of two of his envoys that the Jewish state comply with Security Council Resolution 799, which called on Israel to take back some 400 Moslem activists it expelled from the administered territories last month for terms of up to two years.
The decision to postpone formal discussion of the matter until Monday was conveyed by Japan’s Ambassador Yoshio Hatano, who this month holds the rotating post of Security Council president, in a letter to Israeli Ambassador Gad Yaacobi.
The council president cited Israel’s request that all discussion of the matter wait until Israel’s High Court of Justice rules on the legality of the deportations. That ruling will be handed down early Thursday morning in Jerusalem.
Israel has argued that it could take no action regarding the deportees until the legal proceedings were concluded.
Observers in Israel have speculated that if the court upholds the deportations in principle, Rabin will respond with a proposal to significantly ease the terms of the expulsion orders. This might allay the buildup of international concern and criticism as manifested in the Security Council.
NO AGREEMENT ON RESOLUTION
Among the possible scenarios suggested in the Israeli press are a blanket reduction in the duration of the deportation orders, which presently run from 18 to 24 months; a liberal process for reviewing individual appeals from the deportees; and a deal in which deportees would be allowed to come back to the territories if they agree in writing to desist from hostile activities against Israel.
But waiting for such an Israeli move was not the only motive for the Security Council delay. In his letter to Yaacobi, the council president alluded to the lack of agreement on a draft resolution.
One put forward Tuesday by the PLO calls for limited sanctions against Israel.
Arab diplomats must balance their desire to embarrass Israel with the possibility of an American veto.
While the United States is loath to exercise its veto prerogative for the first time in more than two years, it would also have difficulties accepting sanctions against Israel.
One proposal under discussion would have the United States support a resolution again condemning Israel and putting forward a specific timetable for Israel to implement Resolution 799.
(Contributing to this report was JTA correspondent David Landau in Jerusalem.)