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United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the American Jewish Committee in December he supports permanent status privileges for Israel in the UN. Annan acknowledged the misguided efforts to isolate Israel and the "regrettable impression of bias and one-sidedness" at the UN. Annan did note some progress as anti-Semitism finally was listed as a form of racism by the General Assembly last year. However, he noted the body again has just passed anti-Israeli resolutions that "might prejudice the outcome of delicate [peace] negotiations."

The new US ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, echoed Annan's sentiments at the AJC dinner. Arab states have blocked Israel from membership in its natural regional group, so the Clinton administration is trying to arrange temporary membership in the West European and Other grouping. Holbrooke said, "we have urged, cajoled, pleaded and even begged," and although a "breakthrough" appeared imminent, some southern European states - believed to be Italy, Portugal and Spain - renewed their opposition to Israel's admittance. Israel may be picking up a new ally in the fight for fairness - the small, west African state of Benin plans to open an embassy in Jerusalem and is pledging to support Israel at the UN.

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