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Ilo Rejects Arab Resolution on Israeli Labor Practices

June 21, 1988
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A week-long debate ended Monday in defeat for an anti-Israel resolution sponsored by the Arab states at the International Labor Organization’s annual conference here.

It was one of the rare victories for Israel in this United Nations agency, especially since the resolutions committee was heavily weighted in favor of the Arab bloc.

The measure, which the committee sent to the conference plenum, stalling all other business for a week, accused Israel of physical violence against Palestinian workers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

It also called for the establishment of a permanent ILO committee to monitor Israeli labor practices in the territories.

To have done so would have put Israel on a par with the apartheid regime of South Africa, the only country under such scrutiny by the ILO. It would have paved the way for Israel’s eventual expulsion from the ILO conference.

Israel put up a vigorous fight. Labor and Social Affairs Minister Moshe Katsav flew to Geneva for one day last week to address the conference and rally support from the Western countries.

ILO Secretary-General Francis Blanchard promised Katsav he would intervene personally against the resolution.


The European and American delegations promised to help. But in the end, they did little. U.S. Labor Secretary Ann McLaughlin, who attended the conference, hedged when asked if the Americans might walk out of the ILO if the resolution passed.

But Gideon Ben-Israel of Histadrut proved an effective lobbyist. The defeat of the Arab resolution was attributed to the popularity of Israel’s labor federation with the international trade union movements represented here and the stubbornness of the Arabs, who refused to accept an amendment to their original draft.

The resolution itself accused the Israelis of deliberately breaking the bones of Palestinian youths to cripple them for life.

Addressing the conference last Friday, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. Pinchas Eliav, charged that the resolution was reminiscent of the “blood libels raised against Jews in the past.”

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