JERUSALEM -- Israel expressed gratitude to the United States Tuesday for leading the effort to repeal the U.N. resolution passed in 1975 that equated Zionism with racism.
'Above all, by annulling the resolution, the United Nations has now removed a shameful blot upon its good name and repute,' said President Chaim Herzog, who was Israel's U.N. ambassador in 1975 when the measure was passed.
The resolution was overwhelmingly repealed Monday night by a vote of 111 to 25. Thirteen nations abstained and at least 23 were absent for the vote. Most of the Arab states voted against repeal, although Egypt, the only Arab nation that has made peace with Israel, was absent.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir called President Bush after the vote to express Israel's appreciation and tell him that 'Jews would never forget' U.S. efforts to repeal the measure, Shamir's office said.
In Washington, during a picture-taking session at the start of a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy, Bush said he had a 'lovely' telephone call from Shamir Monday expressing thanks for U.S. involvement in repealing the resolution.
'It shouldn't have passed in the first place,' Bush said. 'But I think we all herald the repeal of it. I know it's a great day for Israel and other countries. So we're pleased.'
Bush, asked about prodding the Middle East peace talks taking place in Washington, said he wanted to talk about it with Levy. White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater told reporters Bush hoped to spur the talks now that initial 'wrangling' had eased over venue and other issues.
Levy meanwhile told reporters the vote on Zionism and U.S. backing was a 'signal for all to watch of the alliance between the United States and Israel.
'This was a great moral victory, which we have won together,' Levy said. 'It was a moment when with our very own eyes, we saw that a lie cannot live on eternally and ultimately light shall drive out darkness. It was a momentous and historic hour for the United States and Israel alike ...'
The resolution, passed in 1975 by a 72-35 margin, determined that 'Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.' Israelis were deeply wounded by the action, which attacked the foundation of their national ideology.
Upon its passage 16 years ago, Herzog mounted the rostrum, tore up a copy of the resolution and flung the pieces at the General Assembly members.
In a statement Tuesday, Herzog praised Bush for waging an 'uncompromising struggle against hypocrisy, falsehood and injustice,' and expressed appreciation to other members of the United Nations who fought for the resolution's repeal.
Bush, in a speech before the United Nations in October, pledged the United States would seek to overturn the resolution, saying it mocked the foundations on which the United Nations was founded.
Herzog said he hoped the United Nations would become less hostile to Israel following the resolution's repeal.
'In addition to slandering Zionism and harming both Israel and the Jewish people, the resolution proved to be even more damaging to the United Nations itself, hypocritical and untruthful as its action was, and no less injurious to the countries which voted for it in craven submission to falsehood and deceptive propaganda,' Herzog said.