Text condemning Israel for "interception and detention' of Libyan plane vetoed
The United States on 6 February vetoed a draft resolution by which the Security Council would have condemned Israel "for its forcible interception and diversion' of a Libyan civilian aircraft in international airspace, and its subsequent detention of the aircraft. The vote was 10 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 4 abstentions.
In opposing the text (S/17796/Rev.1), the United States said that although it opposed Israel's action, the draft was unacceptable because it did not "take into sufficient account the need to address practically and appropriately the overriding issue of terrorism'.
Three Council meetings were held (4, 5, 6 February) at the request of the Syrian Arab Republic to consider what it called the "Israeli act of air piracy' against a private Libyan civilian passenger aircraft flying in international airspace on 4 February over the Mediterranean. The flight carried an official Syrian political delegation returning to Syria from an official visit to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Syria stated.
Those voting for the condemnation were Bulgaria, China, the Congo, Ghana, Madagascar, Thailand, Trinidad and Tabago, the USSR, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. Australia, Denmark, France and the United Kingdom abstained.
The text was submitted by the Congo, Ghana, Madagascar, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Arab Emirates. By it, the Council would have considered the Israeli act as "a serious violation of the principles of international law', in particular relevant provisions of international conventions on civil aviation.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) would have been called on to take due account of the resolution when considering adequate measures to safeguard international civil aviation against such acts.
Israel would have been called on "to desist forthwith from any and all acts endangering the safety of international civil aviation', and the Council would have warned Israel that, if such acts were repeated, it would consider taking "adequate measures to enforce its resolutions'.
Syria on 4 February informed the Secretary-General of the incident, which had occurred in international airspace between Cyprus and Syria. The Secretary-General later through his spokesman expressed deep concern "at what appears to be a serious infringement of freedom of civil aviation, and an act that could aggravate the already tense situation in the area'.
LETTERS: Among documents reviewed by the Council was a letter (A/41/135-S /17792) to the Secretary-General from Ali Abdussalam Treiki, Secretary of the People's Committee of the People's Bureau for Foreign Liaison of Libya; identical letters to the Council President (S/17788) and the Secretary-General (A/41/132-S/17785) sent from Farouk Al-Sharaa', Foreign Minister of Syria; and a letter to the Secretary-General (A/41/138-S/17797) from King Hassan of Morocco, in his capacities as Chairman of the Arab Summit, Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee.
In his 4 February letter, Mr. Treiki said, "the Zionist entity', aided by the United States, had committed "an act of terrorist aggression' in intercepting the Libyan civilian passenger aircraft and forcing it to land at a military airfield "inside occupied Palestine'.
That "act of air piracy' represented an "established policy' of the United States "and its ally, the Zionist entity', and constituted an "irrefutable record of terrorism' to be added to the incident involving the Egyptian aircraft "hijacked by United States fighter aircraft and forced to land in southern Italy', he stated.
"If the international community permits such terrorist practices, which seriously jeopardize the safety of civil aviation, to go unpunished and undeterred, then it must expect reciprocal action from others, which would confer on every State the right to pursue any civilian aircraft in international airspace and thus transform the world into a jungle', Mr. …