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President Bush Defends U.S. Veto of U.N. Resolution on Territories

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President Bush on Sunday defended the U.S. decision late last week to kill a Security Council resolution that would have sent a three-member U.N. delegation to investigate the recent upsurge of violence in the administered territories.

The situation leading up to the U.N. vote was compounded by the “outrageous guerilla attack launched against Israel,” Bush said at a joint news conference with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

He was referring to the aborted seaborne attack by heavily armed terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front on two crowded Israeli beaches over the Shavuot holiday.

The United States was the only one of the 15 Security Council members to oppose the resolution, but its vote was enough to kill it. The five permanent members of the council have veto power over all resolutions.

The resolution, introduced by the Arab bloc, called for a three-member commission of the Security Council to investigate the “policy and practices of Israel, the occupying power” and the “deteriorating situation” in the Israeli-administered territories and East Jerusalem.

The delegation was to report back by June 20, after which the council would reconvene to discuss “ways and means of ensuring the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians.”

It was proposed May 25 in Geneva, where the Security Council convened for a special session to hear Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat address the upsurge of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after a lone Israeli gunman shot seven Palestinian workers to death May 20 near Rishon le-Zion.

JEWISH GROUPS PRAISE BUSH

The United States originally expressed support in Geneva for a more-limited plan of sending observers to the territories on a temporary basis, but then reversed its decision, saying it would support an emissary sent by the U.N. secretary-general, as opposed to a Security Council delegation.

“We do not oppose the secretary-general sending emissaries to the Middle East,” Bush reiterated at his news conference Sunday. “We do favor representatives of the secretary-general going there.”

“United States policy is unchanged and is clear: We oppose new settlements in the territories beyond the 1967 lines,” he said.

In New York, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations lauded the Bush administration for vetoing the resolution and President Bush for his “immediate and forth-right denunciation” of the May 25 terrorist raid.

“When a deranged individual, acting independently, commits a heinous act that is unanimously condemned by all responsible parties in Israel, the so-called civilized nations of the world are nevertheless quick to tar Israel with the brush of collective guilt,” said Seymour Reich, chairman of the 46-member umbrella group.

“Yet when a vicious terrorist operation, whose sole aim is to wreak havoc on innocent men, women and children enjoying a holiday at the seashore, is undertaken by a major faction of the PLO under the command of Yasir Arafat’s chief assistant, these countries are silent.”

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