Israel's Cabinet said today it considered the U.N. General Assembly resolution recommending sanctions against Israel for its annexation of the Golan Heights "null and void" and charged that the world body had become a "tool wielded by hostile states to spread their enmity and hypocrisy."
The strongly worded statement, written by Prime Minister Menachem Begin and endorsed unanimously by the Cabinet, said the vote Friday was a result of the "automatic anti-Israel vote" in the General Assembly. But it added that Israel would persist in seeking peace with its Arab neighbors.
Referring to Arab rejectionist states and the Soviet Union, the Israeli statement declared: "The representatives of countries that for more than 30 years have refused to make peace or even to negotiate it will not be the ones to determine that Israel is not a peace-loving country. Nor is a superpower that invaded Afghanistan and that moved the Polish government to establish a regime of repression and the liquidation of the most fundamental human rights going to preach to anybody about expansionist designs."
The communique added, "The automatic anti-Israel majority in the U.N. General Assembly has demonstrated once again that this international body is an instrument not for the establishment or the maintenance of peace, but, on the contrary, is a tool wielded by hostile states to spread their enmity and hypocrisy, undermining the peace and security of nations."
Despite its sharpness, the official Israeli reaction appeared to reflect a studied attempt by the Begin government not to exacerbate the controversy over the Golan Heights annexation and to put the U.N. measure behind it with one concise condemnatory statement that it hopes will not fuel further exchanges.
There was no reference in the communique to the Golan Heights and not even implicit criticism of countries, such as Peru and Nepal, that have full diplomatic relations with Israel but voted for the resolution. Instead, the Israeli statement dwelled on the 20 countries that voted against the resolution and expressed appreciation for the 34, including Egypt, that abstained. Sixteen members were absent for the 86-21 General Assembly vote, which called for total diplomatic, economic and military isolation of Israel.
Several ministers reportedly sought during the Cabinet discussion to tone down the oblique condemnation of the Soviet Union, but Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir was said to have complained that the Soviet delegation to the General Assembly delivered a particularly harsh attack on Israel that could not go unanswered. Begin, who is recuperating from a broken thigh bone, did not attend the Cabinet meeting.
Official Israeli sources said that the statement was intended to express Israel's consternation, while reflecting the attitude expressed by the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Yehuda Blum, when he quoted an Arab proverb, "Dogs may bark, but the caravan will pass." A Foreign Ministry official said, "This decision was not operative, after all. It hardly is a recommendation. It was reactive but limited, since its operative stage was vetoed in the Security Council."
Even in a coincidental meeting today with U.N. Undersecretary Brian Urquhart, who is visiting U.N. peace-keeping units, Shamir kept discussion of the resolution to a minimum and dwelled instead on southern Lebanon and a buildup of Palestinian forces there, official sources said.
The Israeli restraint appeared to be intended to minimize the likelihood of any effort to expel Israel from the United Nations on the basis of overreaction to the resolution, although an expulsion resolution would be certain to be vetoed in the Security Council.