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Israel Asks Why U.S. Backed U.N. Language on Jerusalem

January 10, 1992
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Israel has asked the United States to explain why it backed language in a U.N. Security Council resolution this week that defines Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian territory.

The resolution, adopted unanimously Monday evening with U.S. support, strongly condemned Israel’s plan to deport 12 Palestinians from what it called “the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem.”

An Israeli Embassy spokeswoman here said Israel “had raised a question” with the State Department about U.S. support for that language.

U.S. officials have tried to play down the significance of the wording, knowing that the subject of Jerusalem is a volatile one in Israel.

John Bolton, assistant secretary of state for internation organizational affairs, said Thursday that the phrase “Palestinian territories” was only meant in a demographic sense, not a political one.

He said the term “Palestinian territories” has been used in U.N. resolutions since 1979 and was not meant to “prejudice the political outcome” of the peace negotiations now under way.

Bolton spoke at a luncheon at which he was honored by B’nai B’rith International for his efforts in leading the U.S. campaign to have the U.N. General Assembly repeal its 1975 resolution denigrating Zionism as racism.

Kent Schiner, president of B’nai B’rith, presented him with a serigraph with the biblical injunction, “Justice, Justice Shalt Thou Pursue.”

Schiner later told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he was “unhappy” with Bolton’s explanation that the “Palestinian territories” phrase had been used by both the Carter and Reagan administrations to refer to Jerusalem. He said the Bush administration should have reexamined the concept.


Bolton’s explanation that the United States has opposed Israel’s expulsion of Palestinians since they first began was also not accepted by Schiner.

The resolution was “unbalanced,” since it “didn’t mention the Jewish settlers being killed or terrorist acts that take place,” Schiner said.

He was referring to the fact that four Israeli civilians have been killed in the administered territories since October. The most recent incident occurred on New Year’s Day, and the Israeli deportation order was announced less than 24 hours later.

Daniel Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith’s director of international and public affairs, said the language used in the resolution prejudged the negotiating process now going on.

But Bolton, in response to questions, said that Secretary of State James Baker had made clear that the U.N. vote was not linked to the peace process.

At the same time, Bolton acknowledged that U.S. support for the resolution helped “minimize damage to the peace process.”

He said if the United States had allowed the issue to “drag out” in the Security Council, “we would have gotten a much harsher resolution, much more critical of Israel.”

But Jewish officials pointed out that the U.N. resolution adopted Monday already contained the harshest language used against Israel to date.

Meanwhile, Schiner and Mariaschin said they were not embarrassed to be presenting an award to Bolton on the same week as the U.N. vote.

“You have to separate the issues,” Schiner said. He pointed out that if it were not for behind-the-scenes diplomacy orchestrated by Bolton’s office, the General Assembly would never have repealed the Zionism resolution by a 111-25 vote on Dec. 16.

“Every once in a while when they (U.S. officials) do something that is good, you have to say ‘thank you’ and pat them on the back,” Schiner said.

Mariaschin added that Bolton, in particular, has been a “good friend” and has worked closely with B’nai B’rith and other Jewish groups.

Also honored for their efforts over the last 16 years in trying to bring about repeal of the U.N. resolution were Dr. Harris Schoenberg, B’nai B’rith’s director of U.N. affairs, and Dr. William Korey, the organization’s former director of international policy research.

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