Near unanimous UN vote for international observers in region

By The Associated Press
12/21/01


UNITED NATIONS - Five days after the United States
vetoed a Palestinian-backed Security Council
resolution calling for monitoring Israeli actions,
Palestinian supporters put their case to the larger
General Assembly and won overwhelming approval.

The assembly vote on Thursday has no binding authority
but carries the weight of international opinion.

The resolution, vetoed by the United States on
Saturday, passed Thursday in the 189-nation Assembly
by a vote of 124-6, with 25 abstentions.

The measure condemned acts of terror against Israelis
and Palestinians, demanded an end to nearly 15 months
of Mideast violence and asked for a monitoring
mechanism to bring in observers, which Israel opposes.
 

The Assembly also passed a second resolution,
demanding that Israel as an occupying power,
immediately refrain from such acts as willful killing,
torture, and extensive destruction of property.

That vote was 133-4, with 16 abstentions.

In a veiled attack on the United States, the
Palestinian U.N. observer, Nasser Al-Kidwa, said "the
15-member Security Council is being used by some only
when it suits them."

The United States voted against both resolutions on
Thursday.

These one-sided resolutions do nothing to further the
goals of ending the violence between the Palestinians
and Israelis and to get both parties back to the peace
table, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said.

Terrorism cannot be justified by any cause, said
Negroponte, who objected that the resolution made no
reference to the attacks on Israel.

Israel's deputy U.N. ambassador Aaron Jacob said "the
resolutions invoke misleading language and amount to
an effort to provide diplomatic cover and manipulate
the United Nations into providing a rubber stamp for
the chronic failure to end the Palestinian terrorist
campaign."

The request for the emergency Assembly session was
made by Egypt on behalf of the Arab League and South
Africa, which heads the Non-Aligned Movement of mainly
developing countries.

Egypt's U.N. Ambassador Ahmed Aboul Gheit said
Wednesday that "supporters of the resolution believe
an endorsement by the General Assembly would help the
Palestinians and show that international legality and
world opinion is… supporting the just needs of the
Palestinian people under occupation.