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Israel Turning Tide in International Arena

Monday, August 27, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags:

Israeli officials are pointing to several signs it is weathering well some of the key diplomatic battles being waged by the Palestinians in connection with the renewed intifada. In contrast, Palestinian Authority officials are claiming on Palestinian radio that the international community is on their side, they have embarrassed and defeated the Israeli army, and have controlled the political success or failure of both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and his predecessor, Binyamin Netanyahu.

Israel claimed it managed to win one of its biggest victories in years at the United Nations Security Council on Monday, when the body rejected by a narrow margin a Palestinian initiative to insert a UN observer force in the disputed territories. The UN resolution calling for international military and police observers in Judea/Samaria and Gaza received eight votes, one short of the minimum required for adoption.

Even had the measure received more votes, the United States said it would have used its veto power to assure its defeat. Instead, the US joined France, Great Britain and Russia in abstaining. After hearing of the renewal of talks between Israel and the Palestinians scheduled in Washington for Tuesday, Western countries on the Council were averse to taking any steps that could be interpreted by either side as interference in sensitive political developments. Moscow's decison to abstain was the decisive blow to the resolution.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday he had warned the 15-member Security Council against taking action on a UN observer force, especially since the Council was not united. Annan said he had appealed to the Council that "a divisive Council on difficult issues doesn't always help the situation."

The PA and their supporters on the Security Council had been trying to get backing for UN military observers and police to protect civilians for weeks. They had wanted a force of 2,000 but then modified the resolution without giving any figures.

Israel and the US have strongly opposed a UN observer mission. Israel sees the Palestinian push for a force as an attempt to internationalize the conflict and to define borders, while doing little to protect Israeli citizens from continued Palestinian attacks. Israeli UN ambassador Yehuda Lancry said PA chairman Yasser Arafat had the power to stop the violence. He added Palestinians did not need protection from Israel "but from the misguided policies of their own leaders."

Palestinian UN delegate Nasser al-Kidwa said he had no choice but to call the vote, expose positions of council members and show the Palestinian people that they "could not rely on the Security Council for justice." Al-Kidwa said that the "high level of pressure of the United States on all other council members" ensured the measure's failure, adding that the council takes action only "when it deals with the enemies of the United States."

In the meantime, Israeli officials are confident the Mitchell committee - the US-led commission of inquiry chaired by former US Senator George Mitchell tasked with probing the causes of the uprising - would not focus on leveling blame against Israel.

Israel is preparing a paper to submit to the committee detailing its positions on who and what started the on-going violence, but the resumption of peace talks has prompted them to tone it down. "We have a strong case but we don't think the paper should be more confrontational than necessary," said Moshe Kochanovsky, Israel's contact person for the commission. "If handled correctly, it can contribute to the peace process," he said. "It should not become a focal point for blame but to provide lessons for the future."

In a related development, PA officials are increasingly dropping any pretense that Likud chairman Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in late September sparked the uprising. Instead, they are acknowledging that the explosion of the "Al-Aqsa Intifada," now often called their "War of Independence," had little to do with Sharon's visit, but rather was a carefully articulated strategy to achieve Israeli withdrawal and Palestinian independence.

Both sides are to submit papers setting out their respective positions to the Mitchell committee by December 30. After this, each side will be given a chance to rebut the other's paper. The committee will complete its report and recommendations in March, to be delivered to new US President George W. Bush.

Meanwhile, the UN's top human rights body on Tuesday appointed a three-member commission of inquiry to investigate alleged human rights violations in the Palestinian territories and said it would begin its work soon. The commission comprises American Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University; South African John Dugard, of the Netherlands' Leiden University; and former Bangladesh Prime Minister Kamal Hussein.

Israel has said it won't cooperate with the inquiry. An Arab-backed resolution that described some of Israel's actions as "war crimes" was passed by 19 votes to 16, even though the US and European nations voted against it, in a special meeting in October. It condemned Israel for widespread, systematic and gross violation of human rights and mandated the commission of inquiry to gather and compile information on violations of human rights.

Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

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Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Israel Turning Tide in International Arena