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U.N. Compromise on Arabs Stalled : Mideast: Security Council adjourns without acting on a PLO proposal to send envoys to investigate violence in West Bank and Gaza.

From the Washington Post

A compromise proposal under which the U.N. Security Council would have sent envoys to investigate an upsurge in violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip apparently fell through Saturday in the face of Israeli opposition.

However, the 15-nation council agreed to reconvene Tuesday in New York to continue the debate.

Clovis Maksoud, the Arab League’s representative to the United Nations, charged that the Bush Administration “flip-flopped” during negotiations from a promise of support for the compromise formula late Friday, yielding to pressure from Israel.

As a result, he said, Arab diplomats will report to an Arab summit conference, convening Monday in Baghdad, Iraq, that the Security Council’s two-day special session failed to respond to a plea by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat for protection for Palestinians under Israeli rule.

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Thomas Pickering, the U.S. ambassador at the special session, informed Arab diplomats Saturday that the Bush Administration would not go along with the compromise proposal.

Pickering declined to comment on the negotiations, but he said, “I think the kind of thing we are looking at is a mission on the initiative of the secretary general.” Such a move apparently would align the U.S. and Israeli positions.

On Friday, Arafat had urged the Security Council to dispatch “international emergency forces” after seven Palestinian day laborers from the Gaza Strip were slain last Sunday by an apparently deranged Israeli gunman. At least 15 other Palestinians were reported killed in violence set off by the shootings.

U.S. and Israeli diplomats in Geneva appeared to leave open the possibility that envoys might be dispatched under the auspices of the U.N. secretary general, rather than the Security Council.

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Maksoud, whose group represents 22 nations, indicated Arab countries may demand sanctions against Israel and curbs on emigration to Israel by Soviet Jews when the Security Council reconvenes.

Meanwhile, Israel kept Palestinians in the Gaza Strip confined to their homes Saturday for the seventh day, and residents said they were running short of fresh food.

Palestinians said the curfew, prompted by last Sunday’s shootings, was the longest imposed on the strip since it was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.

Israel lifted the Gaza curfew for two hours Thursday so that residents could buy food.

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In the West Bank, about 100,000 Arabs in Hebron and surrounding refugee camps remained under curfew Saturday.


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