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Security Council Postpones Debate over Resolution on the Palestinians

The U.N. Security Council has postponed a meeting to discuss the latest draft resolution calling for measures concerning the Palestinians in the Israeli-administered territories, and the issue is not expected to come up again until next week.

Last Friday’s scheduled meeting was unexpectedly canceled, and a new date has not yet been set. The Security Council is expected to spend most, if not all, of this week on a resolution allowing the use of force against Iraq, which invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2.

The postponement was a welcome development for the United States, which wanted to move the focus of the Security Council back to Iraq.

Washington also wanted to avoid voting on another resolution in which its longstanding ties to Israel would come into conflict with its desire to sustain the Arab coalition against Iraq.

The United States twice supported resolutions in October censuring Israel for the rioting on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, in which Israeli police fatally shot 17 Arabs.

The latest draft resolution, introduced Nov. 16 by the four non-aligned members of the Security Council, calls for convening a meeting of the signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, as suggested in a report by U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar.

Israel is a signatory to the convention, which protects civilians living in occupied territories, but Israeli officials have said the convention does not legally apply to the administered territories.

The draft resolution also calls for the stationing of U.N. military observers in the administered territories, something that is unlikely to be accepted by the United States.

With the Dec. 1 regular monthly rotation of the Security Council presidency — Yemeni Ambassador Abdalla al-Ashtal will take over from U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering — Israel potentially faces a tougher time during the upcoming month.

Yemen was one of the sponsors of the latest resolution concerning Israel and Ashtal was the person who first called for Security Council discussions about the situation of the Palestinians following the Oct. 8 Temple Mount incident.

Meanwhile, the expected visit to Israel by the secretary-general’s personal representative, Jean-Claude Aime, has yet to be officially confirmed by Perez de Cuellar. Israeli officials have invited Aime to investigate the overall situation of Palestinians in the administered territories.

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