Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

General Assembly Again Delays Vote, Appearing to Doom Resolution on PLO

December 5, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A scheduled vote in the General Assembly on a resolution that would upgrade the Palestine Liberation Organization’s status here to that of an observer state has been postponed for the second time.

But the latest move would appear only to delay the death of the measure, which diplomats here now believe to be inevitable.

U.N. General Assembly President Joseph Garba announced Monday afternoon that the Arab-sponsored resolution, which had been due for votes last Friday and then on Monday, would now be put off two additional days.

U.S. and Israeli officials said the postponements indicate that the resolution’s backers were not able to muster sufficient support in the face of staunch opposition from the United States.

The officials expect that when the resolution is again brought to the floor, any action on it will be indefinitely postponed. They do not expect the resolution to surface again before the next General Assembly convenes in September 1990.

The resolution, which was sponsored by 16 Arab states and introduced on the General Assembly floor by Kuwait, states that the PLO observer mission “shall be construed within the United Nations as the State of Palestine.”

The PLO observer mission is presently referred to as “Palestine.”

The U.S. stand against the resolution was coupled with a threat to cut off funding to the U.N. budget if the measure were to pass.


The State Department declared last week than it would withhold its U.N. dues, which makes up 25 percent of the international body’s total budget, should the PLO’s status be elevated.

Western European countries, as well as the Soviet Union, are said to have joined the United States and Israel in pressuring the Arab bloc against pushing for a vote on the measure.

In addition, non-aligned nations that generally vote with the PLO were said to have been reluctant to lend their support to the resolution, apparently because of the threatened cutoff of U.S. funds.

There is speculation here that if the resolution elevating the PLO is indefinitely postponed or withdrawn, there may be some move to try to give the PLO at least the semblance of a victory.

Israeli officials said the Palestine observer mission’s placement in the General Assembly hall may be moved closer to that of the observer states and the non-governmental organizations, a more prestigious position that its current seat.

The General Assembly did take action on three anti-Israel resolutions Monday afternoon. The measures had been introduced during last week’s debate on “the situation in the Middle East.”

The first, adopted 109-18, calls for Israel’s withdrawal from all “occupied territories,” reaffirms the Palestinians’ right to a state and calls for an international peace conference.

The United States requested a separate vote on one paragraph of the measure, which condemned U.S.-Israeli cooperation. It was adopted, but by a vote of 63-35, with 47 abstentions, a far smaller margin than the tally on the resolution as a whole.

The other two resolutions were both adopted by overwhelming margins. The second resolution, which passed 84-22, with 49 abstentions, condemns Israeli “occupation” of the Golan Heights and calls on all member states to cease all dealings with Israel.

The third declares Israel’s jurisdiction over Jerusalem to be illegal and condemns those countries whose diplomatic missions are located there. That measure was approved 147-2, with only eight countries abstaining.

Recommended from JTA