Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » UN Still Haggling Over PLO Call for Observer Force
UN Still Haggling Over PLO Call for Observer Force
The United Nations Security Council has been holding marathon negotiations, but has yet to agree on a draft resolution ahead of the Arab League summit on Tuesday that addresses calls for a force of armed observers to "protect the Palestinians."
Racing against the clock of the Arab summit opening in Amman tomorrow, the UN Security Council was still trying on Monday to forge a compromise on the Palestinian demand for armed international observers. The US has threatened to veto the measure due to Israeli objections, so European council members have been trying to hammer out acceptable compromise language that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan can deliver when addressing the Arab summit in person this week.
When non-stop negotiations ended late Sunday, Britain's UN Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock saw the chances as slim for a compromise on time. The Palestinians have the nine votes needed to get the 15-nation council to state its willingness in principle to send UN observers to Palestinian areas, even if Israel refuses to allow them entry. The US, however, likely will veto the resolution, since such deployments normally require the consent of both sides.
At the Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reiterated his objections to an international observer force, saying he opposes the "internationalization" of the conflict and any steps that would "reward" Palestinian violence.
The Palestinians have forced the US into a difficult position as the Arab League summit looms, and European council members are trying to help Washington out of the dilemma. The compromise proposal by Britain, France, Ireland and Norway makes no mention of an observer force, but the US has objections to the revised text as well.
According to the European draft, Annan would initiate talks with both sides after which the council would express readiness "to act immediately upon the agreement of the parties to set up any kind of mechanism to protect civilians." Diplomats said Washington objected to the word "mechanism," as well as new criticisms of Israeli settlement activity and blockades on Palestinian towns. The draft also notes that most of the more than 400 people who have died in the violence since late September have been Palestinians.
The US has only vetoed five resolutions since 1990 - four of them dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The last American veto, in 1997, quashed a resolution demanding that Israel stop construction at a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.