Draft U.N. Resolution Calls Jerusalem Occupied Territory

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America has sharply criticized a draft U.N. resolution that refers to Jerusalem as “occupied Palestinian territory.”

The resolution “brings us back to the sorry era of utterly unrealistic and poisonous rhetoric that so characterized the United Nations for too many years,” said an O.U. statement that was adopted by the group’s officers last Friday.

The statement was adopted during the O.U.’s biennial convention, held here over the Thanksgiving weekend.

“The news that Egypt has joined in co-sponsoring this outrageous draft raises serious questions as to the Mubarak regime’s continued commitment to the spirit of Camp David,” said the statement, referring to the 1978 Camp David Accords which became the basis for Egyptian-Israeli peace.

The resolution is being co-sponsored by Egypt and other Muslim countries, including Bangladesh, Malaysia, Mauritania, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The resolution, which is expected to be submitted shortly to the U.N. General Assembly, calls for “restitution and full compensation” to the Palestinian people for the “exploitation by Israel, the occupying Power, of the natural resources of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967.”

The General Assembly opened late last week its annual debate on the Middle East and is expected to vote this week on a resolution concerning the “Question of Palestine.”

The draft resolution describes an “additional, dangerous impact of Israeli colonial settlements on Palestinian and other Arab natural resources, especially the confiscation of land and the theft of water resources.”

There are several reasons why the strongly-worded resolution may be circulating now, according to David Luchins, an O.U. vice president and senior adviser to Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D-N.Y.).

Egypt may be seeking to retaliate against the United States for its recent veto of U.N. General Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s bid for a second term, Luchins said. Boutros-Ghali is Egyptian.

Luchins said another possible explanation is that the resolution is intended to warn Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “that if he doesn’t move on Hebron things will be tougher,” referring to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on implementing an agreement to turn over most of the West Bank town to Palestinian self-rule.

“At worst, the resolution is an effort to implode the peace process,” Luchins said.

If Egypt and the other sponsors “are serious about this resolution, it’s a deal-breaker” for the peace process because “it can only delight the most extreme opponents of the peace process on both the Arab and Israeli sides,” he said.

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