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U.N. Statement Deploring Violence Gets a Bitter Response from Israel

January 7, 1991
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Israeli officials and American Jewish leaders reacted bitterly to the Security Council’s unanimous decision Friday to adopt a statement criticizing actions by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.

This was the fourth time in four months the 15-member council, with the support of the United States, has criticized Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians living in the administered territories.

But unlike the three previous actions, which were official resolutions, Friday’s statement is non-binding.

The three days of negotiations leading to the statement’s acceptance shortly after midnight last Thursday were prompted by the killing of at least six Palestinians and the wounding of about 150 others by Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip on the weekend preceding New Year’s Day.

The issue was raised in the Security Council by the Palestine Liberation Organization on Dec. 31, the final day of Yemeni Ambassador Abdalla al-Ashtal’s term as council president.

The United States successfully lobbied the other council members to accept general language condemning “recent acts of violence in Gaza.” But the statement goes on to say “especially actions by Israeli security forces against Palestinians, which led to scores of casualties among those civilians.”

In a terse and bitter reply, the Israeli Mission here said: “The Security Council has decided to usher in the new year in the same fashion in which it ended 1990, with the one-sided and unjustified condemnation of Israel.”


Jewish groups also condemned the U.N. decision, which the World Jewish Congress called part of a “continuing charade.”

“In what has become a ritualistic experience, the U.N. once again has singled out Israel for criticism without due consideration of the circumstances involved,” said a statement issued by the American Jewish Committee.

The group called on the United Nations to “end its obsessive occupation with Israel and insure consideration of other and far more serious incidents of violence around the world,” including some “within the borders of several of the Security Council members themselves.”

The U.N. statement also refers to the resolution adopted by the Security Council on Dec. 20, in which Israel was criticized for resuming deportations of Palestinians from the administered territories and the U.N. secretary-general was asked to monitor the situation of Palestinians in the territories.

“The members of the council reaffirm their positions and support the work of the secretary-general in implementing the said resolution,” the statement said.

Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar has been authorized by the council to use existing U.N. personnel in the area, as well as bring in others, to monitor and observe the situation in the administered territories.

Israel has said it is opposed to this, and both it and the United States have said they would not support any change in the mandate of U.N. personnel stationed in the area.

The statement also reaffirms the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which protects the rights of civilians living under occupation, to the “Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, and request that Israel, the occupying power, fully comply with the provisions of the convention.”

Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem shortly after the Six-Day War of June 1967, does not recognize the division of the city, which it views as its sovereign, indivisible capital.

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