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The United Nations and Israel

Palestinians Use Un Conference On Cities As Forum For More Israel Bashing

Supporters of the Palestinians from developing nations, more than two-thirds of the 189 UN member states, introduced two amendments to the final declaration of the UN conference on the plight of the world's cities Friday, in a move Israel denounced as politically motivated and unacceptable.

The confrontation that came on the final day of the three-day UN conference left hundreds of delegates sitting idly while General Assembly President Harri Holkeri met with supporters of both sides trying to bridge the differences. The dispute has delayed agreement on the final pronouncement of the UN meeting.

The final declaration is expected to advance an agenda to improve cities and urban life that was originally adopted by 171 countries at a 1996 UN conference in Istanbul, Turkey.

One proposed amendment would commit delegates "to protect the legal status, demographic composition, natural resources, and the historical and cultural character of territories under foreign occupation." It would also "emphasize the illegality, under international law, of any transfer of civilian population of the occupying power to the occupied territories and the establishment of settlements in those territories."

The other would help all refugees and displaced persons return voluntarily to their homes and "be smoothly reintegrated in their societies."

The developing nations were negotiating Friday night with the United States, Israel's closest UN ally, diplomats said.

Housing and Construction MK Natan Sharansky voiced his allegiance to the 1996 Habitat Agenda, and blasted delegates from Jordan, Syria, and Palestine for using the forum to attack Israel's settlement policy.

"Certain delegations have regrettably chosen to appropriate today's session to level unfounded political attacks against Israel rather than contribute in a productive manner to the discussion," said Sharansky on Thursday in remarks to the UN General Assembly.

Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palesti-nian UN observer, said the first amendment reiterates the Fourth Geneva Convention and the second is from the declaration adopted by more than 150 world leaders at last September's Millennium Summit.

Israel's deputy UN ambassador, Aaron Jacob, countered that he hoped that another provision from the Millennium Declaration - on international terrorism - would be included in the final conference declaration.

Source: ICEJ News

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