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U.S. Might Support U.N. Resolution Censuring Settlement of Soviet Jews

May 16, 1990
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The United States could vote in favor of a Security Council resolution condemning the settlement of Soviet Jews in the administered territories, high-level State Department officials indicated this week.

Such a move would signal strong U.S. displeasure with Israeli policies and would almost certainly draw a sharp protest from the Israeli caretaker government.

Both John Bolton, the assistant secretary of state for international organizational affairs, and Thomas Pickering, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told leaders of American Jewish groups this week that American approval could come if the resolution’s final language is consistent with stated U.S. policy.

“If the language reflected the U.S. position, as articulated by the president and the secretary of state, about settlements in the territories,” the United States “could not properly veto it,” Bolton told an American Jewish Congress delegation in Washington on Monday. His remarks were reported by Robert Lifton, AJCongress national president.

According to U.N. sources, the Arab states continued to argue Tuesday about whether they should dilute the current draft of the resolution enough to avoid a U.S. veto, or to leave in strong language that the United States has indicated it will not approve.


A draft of the resolution circulated last week called settlement of immigrants in the territories “illegal,” affirmed the right of return for Palestinian refugees and condemned Jewish settlement in all of Jerusalem.

Pickering, who met Tuesday morning in New York with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said such references would be unacceptable to the United States, according to people who attended the meeting.

But sources said the United States has told the Arabs that it could approve a stripped-down version of the resolution that would criticize Jewish settlement in the territories captured by Israel in 1967 — presumably including East Jerusalem — as being an obstacle to peace.

Bolton specifically excluded any discussion of East Jerusalem in his meeting with the AJCongress group.

At the meeting with Pickering, the Jewish organizational leaders expressed their deep concern over the efforts being made by the United States to help the Arabs craft the resolution and the possibility that the United States might approve it.

“For the first time, the U.S. seems to be making common cause with the Arabs on an issue criticizing Israel,” Lifton commented after Tuesday’s meeting.

Other American Jewish groups have issued statements condemning the U.S. collaboration on the resolution, which grew out of a Security Council debate on settlement of Soviet Jewish immigrants that was begun three months ago at the request of the Soviet Union.

Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Reform movement’s Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said in a statement that the U.S. negotiations over the resolution represent “a breach of faith” that “has added uncertainty, confusion and suspicion to the relationship between our country and Israel.”


The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith observed that the negotiations come at a time when Israel is being directly threatened by an Iraqi military buildup.

“American policy-makers should be marshaling the international community against the forces that vilify Israel, rather than cooperating with them,” Abraham Foxman, the group’s national director, said in a statement.

Foxman said no matter what “frustrations exist in Washington” over the current political situation in Israel, “the United Nations, with its long record of hostility toward Israel, is an inappropriate choice for delivery of the administration’s message.”

Lifton of AJCongress said he stressed in the meetings with Bolton and Pickering that the dismay in the American Jewish community would heighten if the United States ends up approving a resolution that falsely implies Soviet Jews are going to the territories in vast numbers, or one that condemns Soviet Jewish emigration to Israel as a whole.

“There should be no perception and no opportunity” for the Arabs to point to a U.N. resolution and claim U.S. support for their opposition to Jewish immigration to Israel, he said.

(JTA correspondent David Friedman in Washington contributed to this report.)

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