Arabs urge UN General Assembly to pressure Israel

The Arab world wants the United Nations General Assembly to gather for an emergency session to focus on the situation in the Middle East. Representatives of several Arab delegations to the UN expressed the desire Friday, as it became clear that they would not be able to get a tough anti-Israeli resolution through the Security Council. They will now try to push their resolution through the General Assembly which will not be too hard to do. It will be remembered that unlike the Security Council, no member state may use its right of veto at General Assembly sessions. The Arab member states reportedly expect a General Assembly session to be convened next Tuesday, but they have not yet submitted any official timeframe inquiry to the UN leadership. An open discussion of Mideast problems was held Friday night in the UN headquarters in New York City, as part of a Security Council session. Thirty-eight member states took part in the gathering. An overwhelming majority condemned Israel for its refusal to cooperate with UN inspectors on the investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in the West Bank town of Jenin. Israel faced criticism even from the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, despite the United States' pro-Israeli stance on the Mideastern crisis and its declared intention to veto any resolution against Israel. Speaking at the Security Council session, an Israeli official cited the following statistics: 47 Palestinian militants, 32 Israeli servicemen, and 7 civilians were killed in Israel's military operation in Jenin. The Palestinian side insists that the Jenin operation left hundreds of people dead, most of them civilians. The Israeli side denies all accusations, saying the Jenin refugee camp is a fortified area, with several workshops producing explosives and warehouses storing arms and ammunition. But Israel won't let UN inspectors into the camp. It has attributed its refusal to the composition of the UN inspector commission, comprised of politicians and international administrators rather than military men and specialists in terrorism. Israel's uncooperativeness made UN Secretary General Kofi Annan disband the inspector commission. The delegations of some Arab member states demanded that the UN Security Council go as far as authorizing the use of military force against Israel as a country refusing to comply with UN resolutions. Such was the case with Iraq in 1991 and with Yugoslavia in 1999. The Arab delegates called their UN partners' attention to the fact that the decision to send an inspector commission to Jenin had been documented in Resolution 1405 of the Security Council. By refusing to cooperate with the UN commission, Israel showed disrespect for the entire global community, they believe.

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