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Israel Faces New UN Anti-Israel Initiatives
The Associated Press, Tue 17 Oct 2000

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly scheduled an emergency meeting Wednesday on the Middle East at the request of Palestinian supporters, despite a U.S. appeal to delay the session.

The Palestinian representative to the United Nations, Nasser Al-Kidwa, asked for the special session last week, and more than 100 Arab and Third World nations backed the call. General Assembly President Harri Holkeri of Finland scheduled the session after meeting with Al-Kidwa Tuesday morning, spokeswoman Sue Markham said.

The session is expected to include a number of speeches about the violence that has flared in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since Sept. 28, leaving more than 100 people dead, mostly Palestinians.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Tuesday against inflammatory statements, asking Israelis, Palestinians and others ``to weigh their words carefully'' because ``words can inflame or soothe.''

Annan, who attended the summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik, was expected to return to New York late Wednesday. He is expected to report to the General Assembly on Friday, which could postpone consideration of a draft resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian violence until next week.

The draft resolution circulated by Palestinian supporters last week would condemn ``excessive use of force'' by Israeli soldiers and actions taken by armed Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians. It is stronger than a Security Council resolution adopted on Oct. 7, though its wording is softer on Israel than past General Assembly resolutions on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Al-Kidwa said it could be changed depending on Annan's report and the situation on the ground.

The United States abstained from the Oct. 7 Security Council resolution because it believed it would be better able to maintain its mediating role and deal with the dangers in the region. U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke warned before Wednesday's meeting was announced that if it went ahead the 189-member General Assembly should be viewed as ``frankly a useless body at this point.''

``This session will be one-sided, condemnatory of Israel in an outrageous and wrong-headed way ... and if it takes place, we will of course oppose the resolutions that are being circulated because they would only inflame the situation,'' Holbrooke told CNN in a television interview.

Elsewhere Tuesday, Arab delegates at a U.N. meeting in Geneva heatedly demanded a U.N. inquiry into Israel's role in the Palestinian deaths.

``The Palestinian people are now in real danger of death,'' Algerian Ambassador Mohamed Salah Dembri said at the emergency meeting of the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission.

Arab speakers, joined by the Chinese representative, lined up to deliver heated condemnations of the Sept. 28 visit by Israel's opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, to a Jerusalem shrine holy to Jews and Muslims. The violence erupted after that visit.

Israel laid the blame squarely on incitement by the Palestinian Authority.

``If the Palestinian leadership really had an interest in putting an end to the violence and the casualties, they could have done so,'' Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Levy said. © Associated Press

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