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Israel Hears Familiar Charges at U.N. Session in Geneva

July 21, 1989
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Israel defended itself Tuesday against familiar charges at a session of the U.N. Economic and Social Council that dealt with “the occupation of Arab territories.”

The only surprise was the relatively mild statement by the Palestinian observer, Mohammad Abu Koash, who never once referred to the “Zionist entity” but asserted repeatedly that the Palestine Liberation Organization wants a peaceful settlement with Israel.

Avraham Milo, deputy permanent representative of Israel to U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, said his country has presented to its Arab neighbors “a comprehensive proposal designed to move the region from belligerency to peace. This historic chance should not be wasted,” he said.

Milo, who also has observer status at the council, devoted most of his remarks to refuting charges by the Soviet delegate, Elena Bodina, of Israeli economic exploitation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Bodina accused Israel of denying the natural resources of the region to the Palestinian people with the result that Israelis and not Palestinians were benefiting from the Palestinian economy.

According to the Soviet delegate, the situation made it all the more urgent to convene an international peace conference for the Middle East.

She said all of the U.N. Security Council members supported the idea except one, an allusion to the United States.

Milo said in reply that Israel has invested substantial resources and good will to improve living conditions in the territories and has gotten stones and gasoline bombs in return.

The Palestinian uprising, he said, was in essence a rejection of cooperation for development.


He added that the Palestinians in the territories needed less international encouragement for violence and more international cooperation to secure the necessary resources.

Hicham Hamdan, the observer from Lebanon, accused Israel of occupying part of southern Lebanon, exploiting its mineral and water resources and trying to build settlements in some parts of the territory to be populated by Ethiopian Jewish immigrants.

Hamdan also charged Israel with trying to expel large numbers of Lebanese citizens from the region, including women and children.

Milo replied that southern Lebanon has become the safest part of that war-ravaged country and many people from other regions, including Beirut, are seeking refuge there.

The Palestinian’s statement, if more moderate than usual, was not conciliatory, as Abu Koash accused Israel of violating international law.

He said the PLO had formulated genuine peace proposals, which have been endorsed by the leaders of the Arab states and have received worldwide acceptance, except by Israel.

Instead, Abu Koash said, Israel proposed holding elections “in occupied Palestine, and recently it amended its own proposals by adding among other things a few conditions.”

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