Behind the Headlines a New Forcus for Israel at the UN
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Behind the Headlines a New Forcus for Israel at the UN

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Israel is planning to focus its efforts in the 41st session of the UN General Assembly, which opens here September 17, on human rights issues.

“We want to draw the world’s attention to the plights of Jews in the Soviet Union, Syria, Iran and elsewhere,” Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“We shall warn of the growing threat of anti-Semitism and we shall demand that more be done to expose and prosecute Nazi war criminals. All of Jewish experience tell us that to be silent in the face of repression is to insure its continuity.”

According to diplomats at the UN, Israel can afford to focus its efforts this year on human rights issues since the Mideast conflict and its ramifications will not dominate the Assembly as in previous years.

“There is a feeling of general fatigue over the never-ending Arab-Israeli conflict.” one diplomat observed. “The world’s attention is focused now on the situation in South Africa, and this issue will probably dominate the 41st session of the General Assembly.”


Eyal Arad, Israel’s spokesman at the UN, said in an interview that Israel believes a pro-Israel trend which emerged in last year’s Assembly will continue into this year’s.

“In the last General Assembly we saw a marked decline in the anti-Israeli votes of many countries,” Arad claimed. “More and more nations recognized that the infusion of extremism and hatred into the deliberations of the UN caused more damage to the reputation of the organization than it caused Israel. We shall double our efforts this year to maintain the trend of improvement regarding Israel.”


It would be a mistake, in the opinion of some diplomats, to assume that the Arabs will not try to use all the means at their disposal to discredit and vilify Israel. But, they noted, the Arabs are aware that they are facing a new reality and that they can no longer pass any anti-Israel resolution they want to.

The Arabs suffered major defeats in last year’s Assembly, which marked the 40th anniversary of the organization. Most notably, they were rebuffed in their efforts to invite PLO leader Yasir Arafat to address the Assembly, and to inject an anti-Israeli statement into the 40th session’s final declaration. Moreover, for the first time in its history the UN passed a resolution condemning terrorism, much to the dismay of many Arab countries and the PLO.

The extremist anti-Israeli countries, such as Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya, are expected again to introduce a resolution requesting the suspension of Israel from the deliberations of the Assembly. But as their efforts were thwarted in previous years, their attempt, according to diplomats, will be rejected once again, with even more countries voting against the Arab move this year.

According to Arad, there was a decline of at least 10 percent in the anti-Israeli votes at the UN last year compared with the year before. “The PLO has lost almost all its influence at the UN and no longer can arrange anti-Israeli votes at the UN as it pleases, ” Arad maintained. He said that Israel will concentrate its efforts on continuing this positive trend of the decline in anti-Israeli votes.

Israel will be represented in the 41st General Assembly by a 20-member delegation, headed by Netanyahu. Seven members of the delegation are part of permanent staff of the UN Israel Mission and the other 13 will arrive here for the duration of the Assembly, until the middle of December. Col. Assad, an Israeli Druze, has already arrived in New York as part of the delegation. It is not clear if Natan Shcharansky will join the delegation as was reported earlier.

Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir will arrive in New York September 24 to attend the Assembly. He is scheduled to address the Assembly’s general debate September 30.

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