A large group of Arab, African and Communist delegates walked out of the United Nations habitat Conference in Vancouver, Canada, on Thursday (3 June) as the Israeli Interior Minister, Josef Burg, started his address.
TV Conference chairman speaking
GV Israeli Minister walks to rostrum as other countries' delegates walk out (3 shots)
CU PLO representative
SV Israeli delegate speaking with English commentary over
SV Empty seats
CHAIRMAN: "And I now give the floor to the Minister of the Interior for Israel, his excellency, Dr. Josef Burg."
ROBERTSON: "The PLO had arrived just before that announcement was made. When the Israeli interior minister stepped up, the Arab countries, the Soviet Union and its eastern bloc allies, and some African states were on their feet and filing out in silence with the PLO. The entire group represented just more than a third of the delegates present. This planned political action came as no surprise. The Palestinians had been saying since they arrived that settlements could not be discussed before it was clear that Israel intended to give up some land. Shafik Al Hout explained."
AL HOUT: "As victims we find it very difficult to listen to digression, when all we have been suffering of the Israeli occupation to out homeland and to the Arab countries. Ever since 1948 and then it expanded in 1956 and then in 1967 and then in 1973 and it didn't show any tendency to yield to the will of the international family and to the resolutions of the United Nations."
ROBERTSON: In the conference hall, the Israeli delegate continued his speech. This was the first demonstration of political action since the conference began, but as Prime Minister Trudeau pointed out, in this hall on Monday, politics are a natural part of a conference like this. Lloyd Robertson, CBC News, Habitat, Vancouver."
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(This film is serviced with English speech by Habitat's Chairman, by Shafik Al Hout and with English commentary by Lloyd Robertson of CBC News. Transcripts appear overleaf.)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A large group of Arab, African and Communist delegates walked out of the United Nations habitat Conference in Vancouver, Canada, on Thursday (3 June) as the Israeli Interior Minister, Josef Burg, started his address.
The walkout cast a shadow over hopes that international differences could be kept out of habitat, which has brought 134 countries together to discuss major social problems such as homelessness and poverty.
The protest centred on the Palestinian issue. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) delegation has said it will try to get the conference to support the rights of Palestinian refugees.
The PLO spokesman, Shafik Al Hout, explained later that the move was to protest against what Israel is doing to the people in occupied areas and where the Palestinians used to live.
Dr. Burg continued his speech and said later, "the same automatic majority that rules in New York (at the U.N. General Assembly) will also rule and over-rule in Vancouver".
"But there is a further possibility -- that people will remember for which purpose they came to Vancouver," he added.