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UN: Security Council Refrains from Action On Mideast

The UN Security Council has refrained from taking action on the Middle East in spite of an appeal from the Palestinians for the body to condemn the violence. U.S. ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke dismissed the Palestinian request, saying a council resolution last weekend condemning Israel had proved unhelpful to peace efforts. UN correspondent Robert McMahon reports.

United Nations, 13 October 2000 (RFE/RL) -- The UN Security Council has made no immediate move in response to the rise in violence in the Middle East, choosing to throw its support behind the efforts of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to broker peace between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

Security Council president Martin Andjaba of Namibia said the Council had directed him to contact Annan and get his assessment of the situation before considering action of its own.

But Palestine's UN Observer Nasser Al-Kidwa yesterday (Thursday) urged the Security Council to act to demand an end to the violence. He charged that Israel's rocket attacks yesterday in retaliation for the mob killings of two Israeli soldiers had dangerously escalated tensions.

"We believe that Israel, the occupying power, has taken actions today (Thursday) tantamount to declaring an all-out war against the Palestinian people."

Al-Kidwa said Palestinian officials are seeking three things from the UN Security Council: demand of an immediate cease fire and cooperation with Annan's efforts, and implementation of last weekend's Security Council resolution, which condemned Israel for excessive use of force in a crackdown against demonstrating Palestinians.

"This we believe will be of great help in regaining control and stopping, hopefully, the quick slide towards the abyss."

But the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, said last weekend's resolution was "biased and one-sided and unhelpful to the situation." The United States abstained from the vote on that resolution. Holbrooke said yesterday he has told fellow council representatives that Washington strongly opposes discussion of a further resolution. He said the Security Council has temporarily ended its usefulness in the situation by passing the resolution condemning Israel.

"It's hard to conceive of any action the Security Council could take today which would be anything other than negative to an explosive situation and furthermore would undermine the valiant efforts of the Secretary General."

Holbrooke said he would not rule out support for future resolutions if they are balanced and involve the consent and participation of all parties to the Mideast dispute.

Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian observer, said if the council does not decide to act swiftly, he would request an emergency session of the General Assembly. Resolutions in the 189-member assembly are not legally binding and the United States does not have power to veto such resolutions.