Israel to Join Group of Western Nations at UN

Published May 23rd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Israel could join a group of western nations at the United Nations as soon as this week, after decades of rebuffed attempts at joining a regional group here, diplomats at the United Nations said Monday. 

"It could happen within the next week," said Michael Powles, New Zealand's UN ambassador, who held the rotating chairmanship of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) in April. 

"The hard part is over," an Israeli diplomat said. "What remains to be done is ironing out the terms of participation." 

A letter currently circulating among WEOG's members sets forth the conditions for Israel's temporary acceptance, a high-level source in the Dutch mission said. The Netherlands currently chairs WEOG. 

The conditions include preservation of existing rotation schedules for representation in UN agencies; agreement that candidacy must have agreed slates; and an Israeli pledge to seek membership in the Asia group. 

Israeli sources said they "would be willing to live with these conditions but would need to see an official document in writing before making a final decision." 

Even if Israel accepts, it could not participate until at least 2021 in UN agencies whose rotation schedules are already set. 

Regional groups are the main unit of participation in the United Nations. Because of the large number of member states, UN business is not conducted on a state-by-state basis but rather on a rotating one. 

An Israeli source said Israel's acceptance into a regional group is its overdue right as a UN member. 

"For any state that does not have the right to be in a regional group, the UN charter's call for equality of member states is little more than empty words," the source said -- UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 


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