NEW YORK - Mordechai Amihai, Israel’s former consul-general in Turkey, is to represent the Western European and Others Group in the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in September on the Fourth Special Political and Decolonization Committee, which deals in part with Palestinian refugees.
Amihai was elected on Wednesday afternoon with 74 votes from UN member states, despite a coordinated effort on the part of the Arab countries to block his election.
Sixty-eight countries abstained from the vote, and 15 votes were declared invalid.
The minimum number of votes needed was 39. Britain, the US and Canada showed strong backing for Israel.
Usually, however, these appointments are not voted on at all, but Syria called for the vote last week in an attempt to block Israel’s nomination.
Qatar released a statement saying that Israel should not serve on the committee because of “its track record was rife with murder and its occupation has lasted more than 66 years.”
Saudi Arabia compared it to apartheid-era South Africa presiding over a committee on racism. Lebanon, Libya and Egypt also strongly objected.
Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations, called the vote “a dangerous precedent” and said the UN “regained some self-respect” by electing Israel.
“The Arab group’s process violates all the basic rules and norms of the United Nations,” Prosor said. “I wonder which of these countries claim to be a moral beacon to the UN? The Arab group did not see anything wrong with Iran, a country which arms the army of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and Hezbollah, joining the Committee on Disarmament and International Security.
We find corrupt countries in managing the budget committee at the United Nations, and countries with rotten judicial systems leading discussions of legal issues committee.
“If the Arab group fears harming the reputation of the United Nations, I suggest they examine the candidate for membership in the various institutions,” he said.
The Fourth Committee is one of the six main committees of the General Assembly that determine the international agenda.