U.N. adopts new resolutions criticizing Israel; U.S. slams Israeli settlement activity
Despite U.S. and Israeli objections, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved six resolutions Tuesday criticizing Israeli policies and calling for new efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.
The world body ended a three-day Mideast debate with votes demanding a quick resumption of the peace process, a final settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians, and an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.
The resolutions are not legally binding — as Security Council resolutions are — but they are a reflection of world opinion. Each resolution received over 100 "yes" votes, with some 160 nations voting, AP reported.
The key resolution called on the parties and major international players, including the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia to exert greater efforts to halt the deteriorating situation between Israel and the Palestinians, reverse all measures taken on the ground since September 2000, and push for a peace agreement.
For the past two years, the United States abstained on a resolution objecting to Israel's administration of Jerusalem because the city's final status is subject to negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. But this year Washington voted "no" on the resolution, which was approved 154-5 with six abstentions.
Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian U.N. observer, said he was pleased with the results of the voting, but "shocked" at the U.S. "no" vote on the Jerusalem resolution, which he called "a slap in the face" to all Arabs, all Muslims, and Christian believers.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte told the General Assembly that the United States is working with the United Nations, the EU and Russia — the so-called Quartet — as well as the parties to achieve "a just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
"We believe a negotiated final settlement can be accomplished in three years," he said.
Negroponte said the United States would welcome a resolution reflecting the Quartet's "balanced and pragmatic approach" which includes promoting Palestinian reforms, improving the humanitarian situation for Palestinians, ending violence and terror, and restoring political dialogue that would lead to two states living side-by-side in peace and security.
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, attacked Tuesday the Israeli settlement policy. "Settlers represent a particular point of view in Israel about the future of the occupied territories; they do not represent a national consensus,"
"The settlements movement today is not about the future existence of the state. Israel needs to make choices and define priorities," said the ambassador.
He reiterated Secretary of State Colin Powell's statements, quoting directly from Powell that the "Israeli settlement activity has severely undermined Palestinian trust and hope. It preempts and prejudges the outcome of negotiations and in doing so cripples chances for real peace and security. The U.S. has long opposed settlement activity, and consistent with the report of the Mitchell Committee, settlement activity must stop." During the delivery of his speech, he paused with the phrase "settlement activity must stop," emphasizing the point.(Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)