United Nations majority against assassinating Arafat

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Sat Sep 20 04:49:49 MDT 2003

UN tells Israel to drop Arafat threats

Friday 19 September 2003, 22:47 Makka Time, 19:47 GMT

The United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to tell Israel
to drop a threat to harm or deport Yasir Arafat. The 191-nation assembly,
where Washington has no veto, voted 133-4 to adopt a resolution demanding
the Jewish state not carry out a policy to "remove" the Palestinian
president. The United States and Israel voted "No", joined by the Marshall
Islands and Micronesia. Australia, Canada, Kenya and Colombia were among
those who abstained.

Not legally binding

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office was swift to dismissed the
assembly's verdict. "This resolution is meaningless. It is only a
declaration and not legally binding," Sharon's spokesman Raanan Gissin said.
He also claimed the UN General Assembly typically passed resolutions in
favour of the Palestinians. "If the moon was a Palestinian issue, the
General Assembly would vote that the moon is flat rather than round. The
Israeli government, by deciding in principle to remove Arafat, only
exercised its right to self-defence embodied in the UN charter," he said.

'Slap for Israel'

In the West Bank town of Ram Allah, where Arafat has been hemmed in by the
Israeli army for some 20 months, the Palestinian Authority praised the
resolution. "The result of the vote is a slap for Israel and those who
support it. The General Assembly vote expresses the support of the majority
of member states for Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian people," said the
Palestinian leader's main advisor, Nabil Abu Rudeina. While the United
States voted against the measure, Russia and the 15 European Union states
voted for it. The Palestinian minister in charge of negotiations with
Israel, Saeb Erakat, added, "The majority of member states have come out in
favor of the peace process, for the end of the occupation, the rights of the
Palestinian people and Yasir Arafat, their elected president."


Arab and non-aligned nations asked the assembly to act after the United
States vetoed a virtually identical measure on Tuesday in the 15-nation
Security Council. It was the 26th US veto of a Middle East resolution in the
council, Palestinian UN envoy Nasser al-Kidwa said. Friday's assembly vote
revealed divisions in the quartet of international mediators - the United
States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - responsible for
the US-driven road map intended to guide the region to lasting peace. While
the United States voted against the measure, Russia and the 15 European
Union states voted for it.


EU members unanimously swung in line behind the resolution after its
sponsors agreed to add phrases condemning both Palestinian bombings and
Israeli killings of Palestinian resistance fighters. Israel sparked an
international outcry last week when it announced a decision "to remove"
Arafat as an "obstacle to peace". It did not say how or when it would do so.
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 votes can be binding under international
law, assembly measures merely reflect the will of the international

Arab League

Meanwhile, the Arab League withdrew a draft resolution on Friday that called
on Israel to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and allow the UN to
inspect its nuclear programme, but vowed to try again next year. Israel has
not signed the NPT and has never officially admitted to having nuclear
weapons. However, non-proliferation experts estimate that Israel has from
100 to 200 nuclear bombs.


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