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Saturday, 30 March, 2002, 18:00 GMT
US backs UN on Mid-East crisis
Palestinian men rounded up by Israeli troops in Ramallah
Detentions of Palestinian men have taken place
The United States has joined other UN Security Council members in approving a resolution urging Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities.

US President George Bush is due to make a brief statement shortly on the conflict, from his Texas ranch.

The Security Council is giving a prize to the Palestinian terrorists. We must condemn this. We cannot accept this

Yehuda Lancry
Israeli ambassador to UN
He assured the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan on Saturday that he remained committed to the Middle East peace process, despite the escalation of violence.

The vote at the UN marked the second time in a month that Washington - a staunch ally of Israel - has supported UN action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, having for years vetoed any proposal critical of Israel.

On 12 March, the Security Council approved a resolution submitted by Washington which called for separate Israeli and Palestinian states in the region, as well as an immediate ceasefire.

Israel's assault on Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah on Friday prompted the Security Council to hold an emergency debate, which continued through the night.

UN Resolution 1402 - proposed by Norway - was approved on Saturday by 14 votes to 0 after the marathon session.

The resolution

  • Calls upon both sides to move immediately towards a meaningful ceasefire
  • Calls for the withdrawal of Israel troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah
  • Urges both sides to co-operate fully with US special envoy Anthony Zinni, who has been trying to broker a ceasefire
  • Demands an immediate halt to "all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction.

In a rare disagreement with the United States, Israel's ambassador to the UN, Yehuda Lancry, criticised the resolution, saying it was not strong enough in condemning Palestinian suicide bombings.

We had hoped for a stronger text ... Nevertheless, the Palestinian side will abide by the provisions of the resolution

Nasser al-Kidwa
Palestinian ambassador to UN

Speaking after the vote, he said Israeli troops would not withdraw from Ramallah, where they have trapped the Palestinian leader inside his shell-blasted headquarters.

In a rare move, Syria boycotted the vote, arguing that the resolution failed to condemn Israeli attacks, while mentioning suicide bombings against Israelis.

Syria had initially planned to put forward its own draft resolution on the conflict.

Palestinians cautiously welcomed the resolution after the vote.

"The resolution is positive on condition that it is immediately applied by the Israeli Government," said Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan opened the debate on Friday by urging Israel to halt its assault on Mr Arafat's compound. He said destroying it would not bring peace.

Mr Annan also condemned suicide bombings, saying they were "repugnant" and subverted all peace efforts.

See also:

30 Mar 02 | Middle East
US plea to halt Mid-East carnage
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Bush condemns 'callous' killing
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arabs offer Israelis peace plan
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arafat row overshadows summit successes
27 Feb 02 | Middle East
What is in the Saudi peace initiative?
30 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel traps Arafat in ravaged HQ
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