The U.N. Security Council, with the United States declining to shield its Israeli ally, today unanimously supported a resolution deploring Israel’s deportation of Palestinians and calling for U.N. monitoring of their safety.
In a separate, non-binding statement, the 15-member council agreed that a properly timed and structured international conference should be held to facilitate a lasting peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The separate statement was issued by this month’s council president, Yemen.
The statement also said the Arab-Israeli conflict is unique and must be addressed independently on its own merits, an indirect way of saying there must not be linkage to the Persian Gulf crisis.
The resolution considers a meeting of the signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the treatment of civilians in time of war to discuss ways of ensuring protection of the inhabitants of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
It would also request Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to monitor the situation in the territories, using U.N. personnel already stationed there and appointing any necessary U.N. staff.
In addition it “deplores” Israel’s decision last weekend to resume deportations of Palestinian civilians. Israel announced its intention to expel four alleged leaders of Hamas, an Islamic fundamentalist group which claimed responsibility for stabbing to death three Israelis in Tel Aviv last Friday.
The resolution, originally proposed by Cuba, Colombia, Malaysia and Yemen, was spurred by violence on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on Oct. 8 when Israeli police killed 20 Palestinians.
The U.S. vote was seen as an effort to reinforce Arab commitment to the U.S.-led multinational coalition arrayed against Iraq. A U.S. veto on an issue considered vital to Arabs could have undermined their confidence in the U.S. mission, diplomats said.
It was the third time in more than two months that the United States declined to shield Israel from international criticism by exercising its right of veto as a permanent council member. In the past the United States has often blocked council efforts to condemn Israel.
The council action had been bogged down for about two months as the United States sought to ensure that there was no linkage between the Arab-Israeli conflict and a settlement of the gulf crisis.
The separate, non-binding statement was a compromise intended to keep the two issues apart.
President Saddam Hussein of Iraq has tried to link the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to his withdrawal from Kuwait.