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
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
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.