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ARAB AFFAIRS - Sept. 19 - UN Assembly Move.

Arab League member-states get the 191-nation UN General Assembly to vote a resolution against Israel removing Arafat, after a Sept. 16 US veto of a similar resolution at the Security Council. The vetoed resolution, drafted by Palestinian UN envoy Nasser Al Kidwa and endorsed by Arab and non-aligned nations, demanded that "Israel, the occupying power, desist from any act of deportation and cease any threat to the safety of the elected president of the Palestinian Authority". (The Sept. 19 move revealed deep divisions in the quartet of mediators - the US, Russia, the EU and the UN - responsible for the road map to Israeli-Palestinian peace. The US voted against - as in any Arab-backed resolution against Israel. Russia voted in favour and the 15 EU states were divided after failing on Sept. 18 to agree on a common stand. Turning to the General Assembly after a US veto in the Security Council is a time-honoured tactic for the Arab bloc as it traditionally enjoys strong support there. But while council resolutions on peace and security matters can be binding on world governments, assembly measures merely reflect the will of governments around the world, each of which has one vote in the body. The US infuriated the Arabs by using its veto against a resolution which also called for an end to all acts of violence and increased efforts to implement the road map. Eleven council members voted in favour of the draft on Sept. 16, while Britain, Germany and Bulgaria abstained. US Ambassador John Negroponte said he vetoed the measure because it failed to explicitly condemn Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Palestinian officials later said the US was turning its back on the road map and was a hostage to Israeli hard-liners. Israel touched off an international outcry in the previous week as, after back-to-back suicide bombings killed 15 Israelis, it announced a decision "to remove" Arafat as an "obstacle to peace", though it did not say how or when it would do so. Israeli DPM Olmert said Arafat ought to be killed rather than expelled.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Sep 20, 2003
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