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Israel Suffers First Setback of New U.N. General Assembly

Israel received its first setback of the 44th General Assembly on Friday, when the world body voted 140-2 to condemn Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Only the United States and Israel voted against the measure, which was sponsored by 21 Arab nations and a number of non-aligned countries.

Eleven countries were absent for the vote, and six nations abstained: Antigua, El Salvador, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay, and Zaire.

The resolution charges that Israel “violates the human rights of Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory.” Specifically, Israel is condemned for shooting civilians, demolishing homes and detaining and deporting Palestinians.

Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar is requested in the resolution to assess the situation, and the Security Council is asked to take urgent measures to “provide international protection” to Palestinians in the territories.

Speaking before the vote, Johanan Bein, Israel’s acting U.N. ambassador, called the resolution “vitriolic rhetoric.” Referring to the recent Palestinian arson in northern Israel, Bein said that some of the resolution’s sponsors “would prefer to have the peace process destroyed like the charred forests of Mount Carmel.”

Israel expects its next major challenge in the General Assembly to come next week, when the Arab nations are likely to mount their annual drive to deny Israel credentials.

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