Arab States No Longer Challenging Israel’s Right to a Seat at the U.N.

For the first time since 1981, Israel’s U.N. credentials have been accepted in the General Assembly without a challenge from the Arab group of member nations.

The General Assembly agreed to seat Israel last Friday without a debate or challenge, reflecting an improved political climate in the Middle East since Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed their historic accord Sept. 13 in Washington.

From 1982 to 1989, Arab members of the General Assembly regularly challenged the credentials of the Israeli delegation. But procedural steps taken each year by members of the Scandinavian delegations prevented the world body from voting on the Arab challenges.

In 1990, when the United States sided with Kuwait against Iraq, the General Assembly did not vote on any delegation’s credentials. And in 1991 and 1992, Arab states avoided the issue to prevent any disruption of the Middle East peace talks.

The director of U.N. affairs for B’nai B’rith International, Harris Schoenberg, described the lack of an Arab challenge this year as an “encouraging development.”

In a separate development, Israel last week voted in favor of the Persian Gulf state of Oman’s nomination as one of five states named to serve as non-permanent members of the Security Council.

In addition to approving Oman, the General Assembly elected Argentina, the Czech Republic, Nigeria and Rwanda to begin serving a two-year term on the Security Council starting Jan. 1.

The council consists of five permanent members — the United States, France, England, Russia and China — as well as five other nonpermanent members: New Zealand, Djibouti, Spain, Brazil and Pakistan.

A spokesman for Israel’s Mission to the United Nations said that Israel backed Oman’s nomination “in recognition of the recent changes in the Middle East.”

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