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Arabs Delay Vote on U.N. Resolution, As U.S. Signals It Won’t Support It

The Arab nations have decided to wait until after their summit meeting in Iraq to take action on a Security Council resolution condemning Israel for settling Soviet Jews in the administered territories.

The United States, mean while, has reportedly signaled it will not vote in favor of even a modified version of the proposed resolution, though it may abstain, allowing the resolution to pass.

The decision to postpone action on the resolution was the result of a series of meetings held over the past several days by envoys of the Arab nations represented here.

The chairman of the Arab group told reporters the Arab envoys here would only reverse their decision and call a vote if they are directly instructed by their governments.

But the Arab ambassadors determined in a meeting late Tuesday that they should “be enlightened with whatever will emerge from the summit,” Ambassador Karim al-Shakar of Bahrain said.

The Baghdad summit, which is scheduled to begin May 28, is designed to publicize Arab concern over the thousands of Soviet Jews immigrating to Israel and what their settlement means for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Arabs have been split over whether to call a vote on a draft of a Security Council resolution that strongly declares that the settlement of Jews in the administered territories and East Jerusalem is “illegal” and affirms the Palestinian refugees’ right of return.

The United States has said it will veto such language and would only consider withholding its veto from a stripped-down version of the resolution that focused strictly on the settlement issue.

Sources in the Israeli Mission here and in the American Jewish community reported that the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Thomas Pickering, informed the Arab states late Tuesday that the “limited version” of the resolution would receive a U.S. abstention, not a “yes” vote.

ROLE OF JEWISH GROUPS CITED

The move occurred after members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met Tuesday with Pickering to express concern that the United States might vote in favor of the resolution.

A delegation of American Jewish Congress leaders held a similar meeting in Washington late Monday with John Bolton, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs.

U.S. approval of any resolution linking the issue of settlements with Soviet Jewish emigration would have signaled strong displeasure with Israeli policies and drawn strong protest from the Israeli caretaker government.

Seymour Reich, chairman of the Conference of Presidents, said the U.S. decision not to support the resolution stemmed from recognition that the “true purpose of the Arab move to censure Israel in the U.N. is to halt all immigration to Israel.”

A source in the Israeli Mission said that “pressure from the American Jewish community” played a major role in the U.S. decision.

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