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U.S. Vetoes Security Council Resolution on Air Attacks

January 19, 1988
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The United States vetoed a Security Council resolution Monday night deploring Israel for its Jan. 2 air raids on terrorist targets in Lebanon.

The vote in the 15-member council was 13 in favor, with the United States against and Britain abstaining.

In casting the veto, U.S. Ambassador Vernon Walters said that the resolution is unbalanced and does not address the legitimate security concerns of Israel.

The British ambassador, Sir Crispin Tickell, who is also this moth’s president of the Security Council, said that the resolution is “one-sided” and that therefore his government decided to abstain.

The Arab-sponsored move called on the Security Council to deplore strongly “the repeated Israeli attacks against Lebanese territory and all other measures and practices against the civilian population.”

This is the fourth time in a month that the Security Council has met to take action against Israel. The earlier sessions were devoted to complaints against Israeli measures to quell unrest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, charged Monday that the Security Council is “being abused” by being repeatedly convened to condemn Israel “to a point of irrelevance.” Netanyahu delivered an impassioned defense of Israel’s actions against terrorist bases in Lebanon.

The Jan. 2 air raids included strikes on bases of Al Fatah, the terrorist wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, headed by Ahmed Jabril; and Hezbollah (Party of God), the pro-Iranian Shiite fundamentalist group.

Reports from Lebanon after the raids put casualties at 32 dead and many more injured.

The Lebanese government lodged a formal complaint with the Security Council on Jan. 7. The United States then sought to persuade Lebanon to withdraw its request for a Security Council meeting in connection with its complaint, but to no avail, according to diplomatic sources here.

Last Thursday, Lebanon rejected a compromise proposal that called for a statement of concern by the president of the Security Council, instead of a formal resolution.


The resolution would have called on Israel to “cease all acts of encroachment of land, construction of roads and setting up of fences that violate the border, and any attempts to occupy or change the status of Lebanese territory or to impede the return of the effective authority of the government of Lebanon in sovereign Lebanese territory.”

Netanyahu, in his speech Monday to the Security Council, reiterated Israel’s position that it has no territorial claims whatsoever on Lebanon and wants it restored to the Lebanese government.

The Israeli envoy described the Jan. 2 air attacks as part of Israel’s “ongoing measures for self-defense.”

He claimed that between Sept. 16, 1987 and Jan. 2, 1988, there were 17 armed terrorist attacks on Israeli soil by the PLO, Hezbollah and Syrian-backed terrorist groups.

“They use Lebanon’s territory as a base for terrorist attacks against Israel,” Netanyahu said, adding that actions against their bases are therefore legitimate self-defense.

Israeli military sources have consistently denied that the Jan. 2 air raids were carried out in retaliation for the Nov. 25 attack on an Israeli military base in upper Galilee.

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