Newsletter : 5fax0519.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
May 19, 1995, V3, #93
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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U.S. Vetoes U.N. Condemnation of Israel
By Elaine Johanson (United Nations), Laurie Kassman (Cairo),
Al Pessin (Jerusalem), Douglas Roberts (Geneva)
The United States used its veto at the United Nations Wednesday for
the first time in five years on a resolution calling on Israel to
rescind its decision to confiscate land in Arab east Jerusalem.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem its capital and has claimed its
right to develop the city.
Fourteen of the Security Council's 15 members voted in favor of the
resolution. But the American veto killed it. The US has already
expressed disapproval of the Israeli confiscation. But it
maintains the issue should be resolved in talks between the
Israelis and the Palestinians.
Jerusalem -- a city sacred to Jew, Muslim and Christian -- is
considered a flash-point in the peace talks.
The Palestinian observer expressed disappointment, saying the US
deliberately thwarted the international community from expressing
its position. Oman -- a member of the Council -- warned the
failure to pass the resolution will cast a shadow over the peace
At issue is a plan by Israel to build homes and a new police
headquarters on 134 acres of east Jerusalem -- which it seized in
the 1967 war. But those who supported the Arab resolution see it
as something much deeper. One Council member called the decision by
Israel ill-timed and ill-advised -- whatever its motivation.
The vote ended a debate that began last Friday. Some 40 speakers
addressed the Council. Virtually all of them criticized Israel and
called for an end to what the Arabs termed a land-grab in
The US veto of a UN resolution criticizing Israel's plans to
confiscate land in east Jerusalem was expected. But still it has
sparked new anger and frustration in the Arab world. Some
Palestinians question the US role as an honest broker in the
Middle East. And Arab diplomats say the US action demonstrates a
prejudice toward Israel and endangers the peace process.
The deputy secretary-general of the Arab League, Adnan Omran, calls
the veto a betrayal of confidence in the role of the Security
Council. "What is the role of the Security Council then, only to
impose sanctions against Arab countries? Is this what the United
States wants? How can the US, which is the major country
responsible for peace and security claim that the Security Council
is not responsible for dealing with this situation."
Arab nations lobbied for a tough UN resolution to condemn the
Israeli land confiscation as a violation of international law and
of the 1993 PLO-Israeli peace deal.
Omran says the veto underlines a US bias toward Israel and renews
doubts about the US role as an honest broker in the peace process.
"The majority of people believe there is no hope there will be a
US foreign policy vis-a-vis the Middle East. People think this
policy is totally an Israeli one and that the United States can
never see a policy except through Israeli eyes. And this is a very
In his weekly newspaper column, Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib
Mahfouz warns that peace can never be achieved as long as the fate
of Jerusalem remains like a thorn in the hearts of Muslims.
Palestinian officials are disappointed and Israeli officials
relieved by the US veto of the resolution. The spokesman for
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat says the veto will hurt the US
image among the Palestinian people. But he said the Palestinian
Authority will continue to try to work with the United States in
the Middle East peace process.
The spokesman, Marwan Kanafani, says he watched the Security
Council vote on television with Arafat. "He was very upset. He was
very, you know, disappointed. He expected the United States to be
more, 'even-handed,' in that flagrant violation of the agreement."
But Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Rafi Gamzou, not
unexpectedly, has the opposite view. "The American veto will help
the peace process and will consolidate it because it will bring
back an issue that belongs to the peace process to the right track
and not to the Security Council, which is not the appropriate
A senior Palestinian official called for immediate negotiations
with Israel on the final status of the Holy City of Jerusalem.
Faisal Husseini made the proposal at an international conference in
the Swiss city of Montreux.
The Palestinian official was attending a two-day review of the
multilateral negotiations designed to complement the bilateral
peace talks between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Husseini suggested creation of a new working group on Jerusalem
within the framework of the multilateral talks. But Israel
rejected that suggestion, saying the final status of the Holy City
can only be settled by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.
Husseini then suggested that those negotiations begin immediately.
Israel's delegate, Yossi Beilin, said he would transmit the
proposal to his government.
Under the terms of the Israeli PLO accord, talks on the final
status of Jerusalem and the occupied territories are not due to
begin until next year.
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