TEL AVIV (Dec. 18)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir told a group of eight U.S. senators Tuesday he believes it would be a mistake if the U.S. supported a U.N. Security Council resolution criticizing Israel.
The United States had been campaigning against a resolution pending before the Security Council for weeks. But on Monday, U.S. diplomats at the United Nations circulated a proposed draft of a resolution that would deplore Israel’s decision last weekend to deport four Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians, who are appealing the expulsion orders, are leaders of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, which has claimed credit for the brutal murder of three Israeli Jews in Jaffa last Friday.
The draft would also voice concern about the “dangerous deterioration of the situation” for Palestinians in the “Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem.”
That wording would appear to question Israel’s right to sovereignty over Jerusalem, which Israel regards as its eternal, indivisible capital.
Israeli officials are also worried about a section of the draft requesting that the U.N. secretary-general “make renewed efforts to monitor and observe the situation regarding Palestinian civilians under Israeli occupation” through U.N. personnel stationed both in and out of the area.
The Security Council met Monday night to consider the draft, but apparently reached no consensus. It was due to reconvene Wednesday morning.
Shamir spoke with a delegation of visiting senators led by Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine).
BACKS ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DECIDE
The group also met with Foreign Minister David Levy, who repeated his belief that if a war in the Persian Gulf is inevitable, it should be carried out quickly and decisively.
Levy said that in his eyes, the United States has all the tools needed to win the war against Saddam Hussein, on both the actual battlefield and the battlefield of public opinion.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Levy, Mitchell expressed his support for Israel and said that “it is extremely important to American interests that we maintain a friendly and supportive relationship with Israel.”
When asked for the U.S. view on Israel expelling the four Hamas leaders from the Gaza Strip, Mitchell replied that “the American policy in opposition to deportations has been one of long standing, on which we have maintained through several administrations, and it continues today.”
But, he added, “each nation should decide for itself its method for dealing with what it regards as violations of the law, and it would be presumptuous to tell the government of Israel what types of laws it should have.”
(JTA correspondent Aliza Marcus at the United Nations contributed to this report.)