Non-aligned States Want Sanctions on Israel

NEW YORK - The Non-Aligned Movement is urging all of its members to decline entry to Israeli settlers, boycott products from the settlements and impose sanctions against companies involved in constructing the West Bank separation fence.

The 115-member movement said in its final document, released last week, that it wants the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution chastising Israel and take other measures to force Israel to stop building the 600-kilometer separation fence, which was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in July.

The Non-Aligned Movement, whose foreign ministers met last week in Durban, South Africa, also urged the Security Council to establish a register of damages caused by the fence and to require Israel to pay reparations.

"With regard to member states, the ministers called upon them to undertake measures ... to prevent any products of illegal Israeli settlements from entering their markets," the statement said. It also called on them "to decline entry to Israeli settlers and to impose sanctions against companies and entities involved in the construction of the wall and other illegal activities in the occupied Palestinian territory."

Diplomats at the UN in New York termed the document "one of the gravest" ever issued against Israel, even though it is strictly declarative and does not bind the movement's members, and said that it demonstrates the negative effect that the ICJ's ruling is liable to have on Israel's diplomatic position.

However, African and South American countries frequently ignore Non-Aligned Movement resolutions adopted under the influence of Arab and Muslim states, and it is considered particularly unlikely that the measures described would be implemented by movement members with which Israel maintains full diplomatic relations.

Diplomats said the idea of having member states bar settlers from entering their countries seemed especially far-fetched, since there is no way to distinguish settlers from other Israelis.

An Israeli diplomat said that countries with which Israel maintains good relations, such as India, usually explain their votes for anti-Israel resolutions such as this one as mere lip service to their non-aligned status, a way of balancing their good relations with Israel.

Nevertheless, he added, it is impossible to ignore the severity of the recommendations, particularly as they are meant to provide a foundation for PLO resolutions against Israel at the upcoming UN General Assembly.

"The Non-Aligned Movement is the PLO's diplomatic rear guard at the UN, and the reservoir from which the bulk of the automatic majority against Israel comes," the Israeli diplomat said. "The Palestinians always recruit the non-aligned countries to adopt resolutions and instructions that later become the basis for anti-Israel initiatives in the General Assembly."

The Non-Aligned Movement's foreign ministers meet every year shortly before the General Assembly opens, and last year's meeting also adopted an anti-Israel resolution. This year's resolution, however, is the first to contain operational steps.

The Foreign Ministry responded to the resolution by saying: "This is a political decision that would be hard to enforce. Moreover, those countries that are visited by Israeli tourists and businessmen have an interest [in not enforcing it]."

The non-aligned countries with which Israel maintains close relations are India, Thailand, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Cyprus, Kenya, Angola, Cameroon, South Africa, Seychelles and the Philippines.