WASHINGTON (Dec. 4)
Two top American Jewish organizational leaders met with senior Bush administration officials this week to urge the United States to veto a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution on Israel and the Palestinians.
Seymour Reich and Malcolm Hoenlein, respectively the chairman and executive director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, met Monday with Vice President Dan Quayle and Secretary of State James Baker.
They were told the administration is still reviewing its policy on the resolution, which is expected to come up for a vote Wednesday .
The resolution, which has gone through a number of revisions, would endorse the idea of dispatching a U.N. ombudsman to monitor Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the territories.
It would also endorse a proposal to convene a meeting of the signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which lays out guidelines for the treatment of civilians under an occupying power. The purpose of the meeting would be to examine ways to ensure the “protection” of Palestinians.
Israel has been accused repeatedly of violating the convention. While Israel maintains the convention is not applicable to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it claims to abide by its humanitarian provisions.
Israel and American Jewish organizational leaders consider the resolution particularly objectionable because it would amount to direct U.N. intervention in what Israel considers to be its internal affairs.
WOULD INCREASE U.S.-ISRAELI FRICTION
On Tuesday, Zalman Shoval , Israel’s ambassador to Washington, told representatives of the Jewish media that if the United States does not veto the resolution, “it will certainly harm the goals that both countries have” going into the scheduled Dec. 11 meeting here between President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
Shoval said that the U.S. handling of the resolution will be an indication of Israel’s “ability to rely on America” and to restart the Israeli Palestinian peace process at a later date .
Hoenlein agreed that a U.S. failure to veto the resolution would run the risk of “raising the threshold” of friction between the United States and Israel.
He criticized the resolution not only for its substance, but also for its timing. Unlike two Security Council resolutions critical of Israel that were adopted after the Oct. 8 Temple Mount incident in Jerusalem, the current measure is not “a response to an incident,” he said.
Moreover, the resolution follows Israel’s invitation to have U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar send a personal emissary to Israel for talks on the Palestinian situation.
The secretary-general has welcomed the offer, but does not want to interfere with any action taken by the Security Council.