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Arabs Walk out of Afro-asian Conference; Protest Israel’s Presence

March 31, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Fighting bitterly against the seating of Israel as a member of the 62-nation Afro-Asian bloc attending the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development here, Arab delegations walked out of the Afro-Asian caucus today in protest against Israel’s participation.

The Afro-Asian bloc, a strong group of members at United Nations Headquarters in New York, voted to recognize Israel’s right to full and equal participation in the caucuses of the members representing the Asian and African states. When the caucus opened today, the group, with Israel represented by Moshe Bartur, Israel’s permanent representative at the UN’s Geneva headquarters, decided to take a public stand against cooperation with South Africa and Portugal, due to the racist policies of those governments.

As soon as that topic had been completed, R. J. Lall, of India, chairman of the caucus, announced; “Now that our main work is done, I propose that we disperse for the duration of the Conference and resume our consultations, should these be needed, on the same basis as at the United Nations in New York.”

The meaning of his linking the basis of the bloc to the situation existing in New York–where the Afro-Asians have consistently kept Israel out of their group–was clear to all present. A number of African members, led by Nigeria, immediately voiced sharp protests against the chairman’s formulation. Whereupon all the Arab delegates walked out Three Moslem delegations–from Indonesia, Pakistan and Mauritania–remained in their seats, although these members always support the Arab anti-Israeli views as the United Nations.

While the Arabs thus mounted an offensive designed to remove Israel from the Afro-Asim bloc–which Israel has achieved here for the first time in its history–Israel’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Pinhas Sapir, launched a counter-stroke. Mr. Sapir, who arrived here to act as chairman of Israel’s delegation to the 123-nation Conference, met today with a number of top Cabinet members from various African and Asian states, inviting many of them to visit Israel. His invitations have been accepted, thus far, by high-ranking Ministers from Nepal, the Ivory Coast, Tanganyika and the Philippines.

Mr. Sapir is scheduled to address a plenary session of the Conference, outlining before the more than 1,500 delegates his Government’s interest in the use of global trade for aid to underdeveloped lands. He will stay on as chairman of Israel’s delegation until next week, when that top post will be taken over by David Horowitz, Governor of the Bank of Israel. The Conference is scheduled to last three months.

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