BY repealing its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism,
the United Nations has removed one of the last stones from the high
wall that once isolated Israel from a large segment of the world
But diplomatic analysts say the Dec. 16 action by the General
Assembly will do little to energize Middle East peace talks now
languishing in Washington.
"If the Arab states had supported the revocation, it could have
had a very salutatory affect," says Marvin Feuerwerger, a senior
fellow at the Washington Institute on Near East Policy. "As it is,
there's not an immediate positive translation to the peace process."
Although six Arab countries failed to attend the Dec. 16 vote,
Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan - the three Arab nations now engaged in
face-to-face peace talks with Israel - were among the nine Arab
states that voted against the repeal motion. The measure was passed
by a vote of 111 to 25, with 13 abstentions.
The repeal drive was spearheaded by the United States, which has
long argued that the resolution unfairly discriminated against
Israel. The Dec. 16 vote culminated a three-month campaign
announced by President Bush in a speech to the UN General Assembly
in September. It is expected to ease tensions between Washington
and Jerusalem created by disagreements over the peace process and
by Israel's policy of expanding Jewish settlements in the occupied
West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Dec. 16 vote to rescind the "Zionism-is-racism" resolution
was criticized by Arab spokesmen who warned that any relaxation of
international pressure would be exploited by Israel to seize more
Arab lands in the territories.
"It would whet the appetite of Israeli extremists wishing to
pursue their policy of creeping annexation," said Lebanon's UN
ambassador, Khalil Makkawi, who spoke Dec. 16 for the UN's Arab
Israel's isolation reached its peak after the 1967 Arab-Israeli
war, when dozens of communist and third-world countries broke off
relations to protest its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In
1975 they joined the Arab states to pass the Zionism-is-racism
But motivated by economic interests and the end of the cold war,
most of those countries, including the Soviet Union, have restored
ties with Israel. On Dec. 16, they switched positions on Resolution
3379, leaving the Arab countries and a handful of mostly Islamic
nations isolated and outnumbered. …