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At the U.n., New Outcome Seen in Annual Debate on ‘palestine’

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The General Assembly wrapped up its annual debate on “the question of Palestine” and the situation in the Middle East this week, with Israeli officials optimistic that the world body will soon approve a resolution lauding the peace process and the accord Israel signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

This would ratify a dramatic shift in Israel’s relationship with the world organization, which repeatedly condemned Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt.

Addressing the General Assembly, Israeli Ambassador Gad Yaacobi called on the United Nations and the world community to support the peace process through aid and investment in the region.

They should assist the Palestinians “by helping improve social and economic conditions, by improving the infrastructure, expanding education and health centers, and by creating jobs that put more people to work,” he said Wednesday.

Praising U.N. agencies for “doing excellent work in the territories,” he called on them to do more.

Yaacobi also raised the issue of the four Israeli soldiers who are missing in action and called for an end to the Arab boycott of Israel.

In other addresses, PLO foreign affairs spokesman Farouk Kaddoumi asked the United Nations to reaffirm the right of Palestinian refugees to return or receive compensation.

Kaddoumi, who opposed the peace accord within the PLO, called on the General Assembly to “affirm the principled stand of the international community on these fundamental issues with the same vigor with which it supports the Middle East peace process and its recent positive development.”

Syria accused Israel of “an unprecedented disinformation campaign to convince the international public opinion that the conflict in the Middle East is over and that peace is now prevailing in the region.”

But the Syrian rhetoric did not faze Israeli diplomats. “There were no surprises in the debate,” said one. “Whoever is supportive of the peace process was supportive.”

The diplomat said he expected a “very big majority” will endorse the resolution supporting the peace accord, which was introduced Tuesday by the United States and Russia, the two sponsors of the peace talks launched in Madrid in 1991.

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