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Ambassador: U.S. Will Wait, then Push for Israel at the U.N.

The United States will wait until the “dust settles” before seeking allied support for Israeli membership in a United Nations regional grouping.

“Timing is going to be very crucial. We ought to let the dust settle” from the General Assembly condemnation of Israel for building at Har Homa and the Security Council resolutions that condemned Israel, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson told reporters Monday.

U.S. Reps. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) met with Richardson to urge him to work toward gaining a seat for Israel in a regional grouping at the United Nations.

Arab states have barred Israel from the Middle Eastern groups, and European countries have blocked Israel from entering the Western European and Others Group.

Membership in a regional group is necessary to serve on certain U.N. committees and have a shot at a rotating Security Council seat.

Richardson said he would resume the push for Israeli membership in the Western European group when the General Assembly reopens in the fall.

When asked if U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan supports the effort, Richardson said he has asked Annan for his backing.

Annan “wants to see Israel participate more actively at the U.N.,” Richardson said.

“The secretary-general is working on this,” Richardson said, but he has not explicitly endorsed the effort.

The United States has labored in vain in the past to secure Israel a regional grouping slot, but Richardson said there is a chance that a new concerted effort will succeed.

He called on Israel’s friends to “encourage” Austria, Italy, and Spain, among others, to support Israel in this regard. So far only Great Britain and Germany have endorsed Israeli membership in the group.

“This is an issue that cuts to the heart of fairness at the United Nations,” Rothman said.

“It’s time to end the second-class citizen status of Israel at the U.N.,” he said, “particularly given the last few months of rabid anti-Israel activities.”

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