The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Friday to tell Israel to drop its decision to "remove" Palestinian president Yasser Arafat.
The 191-nation assembly voted 133-4, with 15 abstentions, in an emergency session to adopt a resolution demanding that Israel not carry out its policy to kill or expel the Palestinian leader.
The United States and Israel voted "No," joined by the Marshall Islands and Micronesia. Australia, Canada, Kenya and Colombia were among those abstaining.
EU members unanimously upheld the resolution after its sponsors agreed at the last minute to add phrases condemning both Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli assassinations of Palestinian activists. Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a senior aide to Arafat, called the vote "a positive position and a real slap to Israel and to its supporters."
On Tuesday, the United States vetoed a simliar resolution in the Security Council.
Friday's debate opened with a speech by the Palestinian observer at the United Nations, Nasser al-Kidwa, who attacked Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, as well as the U.S. for veoting the Security Council resolution, saying it was the 26th occasion on which Washington had nixed a council resolution on Palestinian-related issues.
"It is incumbent on the international community, and we here in this special session of the General Assembly, to take the necessary measures to prevent the looming combustion of the situation and to ensure that nobody will harm our president," al-Kidwa said in his speech.
There could be no peace process until Israel ended its occupation of Palestinian lands and accepted a sovereign Palestinian state, he added.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )