Whose Jerusalem ?

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Israel Slams UN Emergency Debate


NEW YORK (April 25) - In a bitter debate yesterday at the UN, as the General Assembly convened an emergency meeting that nominally concerned Har Homa, Israel attacked the Palestinian Authority for "clear incitement to violence" and lambasted the UN session as "a relic of the Cold War era."

It was the first time since 1982 that the General Assembly met in an emergency session, and the fourth time the UN has debated the Jerusalem construction project since the beginning of March.

"Now that this emergency session has finally convened, the question is, was this session really necessary?" David Peleg, the Israeli charge d'affaires, asked the assembly.

Nasser Kidwa, the PLO observer to the UN, called for the cessation of building at Har Homa and asked the assembly to adopt "collective measures" against Israel, including blocking aid to those who are building "colonial" settlements. Kidwa also told the UN that it is the Palestinians' "right to shout and to use their bare hands to confront the Israeli gun and tank."

This was a "clear incitement to violence," Peleg said, adding that "the declared commitment of the Palestinians against terrorism is meaningless as long as the incitement to violence continues."

Acting on behalf of the 22-member Arab group, Qatar last month asked for the special session under the terms of the 1950 "Uniting for Peace" resolution, which has been invoked nine other times since 1956 when the Security Council stalemated.

The session was needed "to discuss the dangerous situation resulting from illegal Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem," Qatar said, adding that the Israeli measures represent "a threat to international peace and security."

A special session requires 93 votes, a majority of the 185 members of the UN. Last week, it had appeared that enthusiasm for the session was losing steam. States seemed to be dallying in voting to hold the debate and observers said the topic had been exhausted.

Israel has challenged the UN's role in Israeli-Palestinian affairs and took special exception to the emergency session. "It is a relic of the Cold War era, and is particularly unsuited and discordant in the context of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians," Peleg said.

"The dispute between Israel and the Palestinians over the building of a new neighborhood in Jerusalem and any other dispute that may arise between the two sides, cannot be considered, by any stretch of the imagination, a 'threat to international peace and security,'" Peleg said. "In a world plagued by a multitude of conflicts and tragedies, where the question in the [African] Great Lakes region is far from being solved and in a week when hundreds of innocent Algerians, including women and children, have been slaughtered in cold blood, must the issue of building in Jerusalem be at the top of the UN agenda?" Peleg asked.

An assembly vote on Har Homa, which could come as early today, would not be binding.

Yesterday's session was the fourth on Har Homa in less than two months.

After two debates in the Security Council, the US twice vetoed council resolutions that would have assailed Israel for the 6,500-unit building project. The Americans do not support the Har Homa project, but contend that the UN is not the appropriate arena to resolve disputes between Israel and the PA. A comparable resolution, however, was passed by the General Assembly.

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