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Behind the Headlines Arab UN Delegates Readying Their Fire at Israel in Upcoming Session

August 22, 1984
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Diplomats at the United Nations say that the Arabs will concentrate their attack on Israel during the upcoming 39th session of the General Assembly on two issues: Israel’s continued occupation of south Lebanon and Israel’s refusal to join an international peace conference, with the Palestine Liberation Organization, to solve the Mideast conflict.

The General Assembly is scheduled to open here September 18 and its agenda is already crowded with scores of items on the Mideast conflict and its ramifications.

According to the diplomats, the relative quiet between Israel and its Arab neighbors in the past year makes it more difficult for the Arabs to accelerate their yearly offensive on Israel in the General Assembly.

“They are expected to assail Israel for its continued occupation of south Lebanon, but they are likely to draw attention to the subject only if there is peace and quiet in other parts of Lebanon. They will not get the attention of the international community on the issue of Israel’s presence in south Lebanon while the Lebanese are shooting each other in other parts of the country,” one diplomat explained.


The Arabs and the PLO hope to make the issue of an international peace conference a major topic at the General Assembly, believing that Israel’s opposition to the conclave will further isolate it in the international community.

“The issue of an international peace conference to solve the Mideast conflict has been gaining momentum in the last year,” an Israeli diplomat said. He pointed out that the International Conference on the Question of Palestine, held from August 29 to September 7 last year in Geneva under UN sponsorship, called for the convening of an international peace conference on the Mideast under the auspices of the UN with the participation of all parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the PLO, the United States and the Soviet Union, “on an equal footing.”

Recently, the Soviet Union renewed its call for an international peace conference, which Israel and the United States promptly rejected.

“The Arabs will try to lure the West European countries to support the idea of an international peace conference in order to leave Israel and the U.S. the only countries opposed to the idea. If they succeed, they will score a major propaganda victory,” the diplomat noted.


During the three-month Assembly, Israel will be targeted for attacks on many issues that have surfaced in previous assemblies. They include the following items, as they appear in the provisional agenda of the 39th General Assembly:

* “Armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

* “Israeli nuclear armament.”

* “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the population of the occupied territories.”

* “Israel’s decision to build a canal linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea.”

The major yearly debates on the Question of Palestine and the Situation in the Mideast will also serve asplatforms for the Arabs and their allies against Israel. Israel’s name is also certain to be dragged into the debate on apartheid, with many Arab speakers recalling the 1974 General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism.


The composition of the Israeli delegation to the 39th General Assembly is somewhat unclear at the moment. Yehuda Blum, the outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the UN, leaves in a few days for Israel after completing six years of service as the chief Israeli delegate.

Because of the political uncertainty in Israel, no new Ambassador has been named to replace Blum. If an Israeli government is not formed soon, no new Ambassador will be sent to New York to head the Israeli delegation. It is expected, in that event, that Arie Levin, Blum’s deputy, will serve as acting Israeli Ambassador during the Assembly.

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