UN backs Palestinian violence - Arab, European nations pass resolution supporting
use of 'armed struggle'
April 16, 2002 - From IMRA
Steven Edwards National Post
16 April 2002
UNITED NATIONS - Six European Union countries yesterday endorsed a United Nations
document that condones violence as a way to achieve Palestinian statehood.
They were voting as members of the UN Human Rights Commission on a resolution that accuses
Israel of a long list of human rights violations, but makes no mention of suicide bombings
of Israeli civilians.
Canada and two EU countries -- Britain and Germany -- opposed the measure, which supports
the use of "all available means, including armed struggle" to establish a
Palestinian state. Guatemala and the Czech Republic joined the opposing voices, but with
40 countries of the 53-member commission voting yes and seven abstaining, the resolution
is now part of the international record.
"The text contains formulations that might be interpreted as an endorsement of
violence," said Walter Lewalter, the German ambassador to the commission. "There
is no condemnation whatsoever of terrorism."
Alfred Moses, a former United States ambassador to the commission and now chairman of UN
Watch, a monitoring group, was more blunt.
"A vote in favour of this resolution is a vote for Palestinian terrorism," he
said. "An abstention suggests ambivalence toward terror. Any country that condones --
or is indifferent to -- the murder of Israeli civilians in markets, on buses and in cafes
has lost any moral standing to criticize
Israel's human rights record."
Canada said the resolution did nothing to further peace.
"The failure of the resolution to condemn all acts of terrorism, particularly in the
context of recent suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians, is a serious oversight
which renders the resolution fundamentally unacceptable," said Marie
Gervais-Vidricaire, Canada's ambassador to the commission.
"There can be no justification whatsoever for terrorist acts."
EU members Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain and Sweden approved the resolution,
and Italy abstained.
Belgium and Spain have been pushing for tough EU measures against the Jewish state, with
Belgium calling for sanctions based on a human rights clause in the EU-Israeli Free
Association agreement, which grants Israel preferential trading terms.
But Britain, Germany and the Netherlands say such measures would end the EU's chance of
playing a greater diplomatic role in the search for peace.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg yesterday buried talk of imposing sanctions
while Colin Powell, the U.S. Secretary of State, is in the region trying to arrange a
"We cannot decide on a peace plan while Powell is going back and forth between
[Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon and [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat," one EU
The 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) drew up the Human Rights
Commission resolution, backed by co-sponsors China, Cuba and Vietnam.
Of the 14 OIC members on the commission, one -- Cameroon -- abstained from voting on the
resolution, while the rest approved it.
Rulings by the commission and other leading UN bodies such as the Security Council and the
General Assembly are significant because they enable causes to claim international
The resolution yesterday reaffirms support for a Palestinian armed struggle by
"recalling" a 1982 General Assembly resolution that slammed both Israel and the
white-run government of South Africa.
Restating past goals by referring to former documents is common diplomatic practice.
The 1982 General Assembly resolution "reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of
peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from
colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including
In a 1982 interview being shown in a CNN biography of Mr. Arafat, the Palestinian leader
cites the General Assembly and the words "all available means" as justification
for terrorist acts.
France's ambassador said yesterday his country could not accept the use of violence even
though France had approved the measure.
Austria's ambassador said his country did not subscribe to several paragraphs, including
the one that referred to resistance through violence.
Sweden's ambassador said his country had supported the resolution "without joy,"
but that "the sponsors did not want to accept further improvements to the
The ambassador of Portugal said his country's support "did not imply total support
for some of the formulations of the text."
Belgium's ambassador said the resolution "could be seen as a call for peace."
The resolution comes two days after Mr. Arafat denounced terrorism to make way for his
Sunday meeting with Mr. Powell.
The OIC returns year after year to the commission with resolutions that are heavily
critical of Israel, but many diplomats said this was the first time they could remember
violence being endorsed as a way of furthering human rights.
Arab countries welcomed the support for the resolution. "The majority of 40 votes in
favour showed that everyone was fully aware of the seriousness of the situation,"
said Toufik Salloum, the Syrian ambassador.
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