NEW YORK (BP)–The Bush administration has blunted an Arab drive to condemn Israel at the United Nations, at least temporarily, CNSNews.com reported Aug. 22.
After five days of behind-the-scenes negotiations and two days of public debate in the Security Council among more than 45 nations, the Palestinian drive to condemn Israel has stalled.
U.S. diplomats contend that an unofficial draft Security Council resolution drawn up by the Palestinians is so one-sided that, if pressed for a vote, the U.S. would veto the measure. Israeli diplomats, speaking on background, agreed with the U.S. viewpoint.
The resolution calls for Israel to relinquish control of Orient House, the east Jerusalem facility that has been used by Yassir Arafat’s PLO as an unofficial headquarters. It also calls for an unconditional ceasefire by Israel’s defense forces, as well as the creation of an international “monitoring mechanism” to “create a better situation on the ground.”
The problems, according to U.S. and Israeli diplomats, are that the resolution fails to mention the recent Palestinian suicide bombings in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa and is vague about what Arafat’s government is actually obligated to do.
“The resolution has not even been officially circulated to the Council members,” explained one U.S. diplomat.
Speaking to the Security Council Aug. 20, acting U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham said, “There is no magic wand to accomplish these objectives, no statements, resolutions nor action by the council that can remedy this tragic situation.”
As one U.S. diplomat said, “We still believe the key to ending the fighting [in the Mideast] is bilateral negotiations [between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
Late on Aug. 21, the Palestinian U.N. delegation met with members of a non-aligned group of nations to discuss ways to avoid a U.S. veto in the Security Council. No progress was reported. They are expected to reconvene later in the week.
After the public council debate ended the night of Aug. 21, frustration and warnings were the order of the day.
Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Yehuda Lancry, told reporters the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will continue to attack “sources” of Palestinian terrorism:
“What we are compelled to do, what is a choice imposed on Israel, is to prevent and cut off suicide bombers at their source. That is first and foremost a duty of Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. But failing to do so, Israel, in self-defense, is compelled to use unusual means against unusual challenges,” Lancry said, referring to Israel’s attempts to target and kill specific terrorist officials in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Lancry played down any prospective role for the Security Council at present: “As we read this draft resolution, there is no sense of commitment on the Palestinian side to stop the violence…. Everyone knows that the burden [in the resolution] is put on the shoulders of Israel.”
Meanwhile, for the Palestinians, the current roadblock thrown up by the White House has begun to take its toll.
Palestinian U.N. observer Nasser al-Kidwa told reporters as he left U.N. headquarters the evening of Aug. 21 that “the aim of having this kind of debate was to have the parties try and get more familiar with the positions of the international community and to get the appropriate message, and this didn’t seem to be the case, unfortunately.”
Al-Kidwa wasn’t sure what was next for the Palestinians.
“I can’t predict anything. It will depend on the actions by the international community, the seriousness of this community, the message it is going to send to the sides, and of course the resolve of the two sides to overcome the present situation and try and start something new.”
The Arab diplomat was blunt in describing the rising tensions among the people living in the West Bank and Gaza.
“We will never give up our right and duty to come whenever it is necessary to the Security Council…. I think that many speakers during the debate expressed genuine frustration with the lack of action by the Security Council…. This is very negative to the people back home,” Al-Kidwa said. “When you tell them they have no recourse, what is the conclusion then? They find ways themselves. That is what we are trying to avoid.”
Stogel is a correspondent with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.