Wed, Nov 05, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Israel introduces first UN resolution


Israel, the object of hundreds of critical UN resolutions, took the unusual step of circulating its first General Assembly measure, challenging delegates to censure those who kill Israeli children.

The measure, before the assembly's social humanitarian and cultural committee, calls for the protection of children from Palestinian violence and is similar to an Egyptian resolution that criticizes the consequences of Israeli military actions on the well-being of Palestinian children.

"There was no reason to single out any group of children," Ariel Milo, director of communications for Israel's UN mission, told Reuters on Monday.

"But when Palestinians want to make a mockery out of the United Nations, we are not going to be idle," Milo said.

A decision by the panel, known as the third committee, which has representatives from all 191 UN members, is tantamount to adoption by the General Assembly. The Israeli and Egyptian resolutions are expected to be put to a vote by the end of the month.

Israel would prefer to have no resolution. However, if the Egyptian measure, which was adopted for the first time last year and reintroduced this year, were adopted, a counter-Israeli measure should be passed also, Milo said.

He pointed to the Oct. 4 bombing in Haifa, which cost 21 lives, four of them children. "After the attack in Haifa, we can't just let it be," Milo said.

Israel's relations with the UN have been hostile since the 1967 Middle East war, with about two dozen assembly resolutions criticizing the Jewish state adopted each year. Most of them have been ignored by Israel, which maintains that Arab actions against it have been brushed aside or condemned in the most general terms.

But it wasn't always that way. The General Assembly, the body that dominated the UN at its inception, voted in November 1947 to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. This led to Israel's creation a year later.

In 1967, however, Israel's faith in the UN was severely jolted and it has more or less remained that way. Egypt put soldiers in the Sinai and the UN, at Cairo's demand, withdrew a peacekeeping force stationed in the desert.

The ensuing 1967 Six Day War left Israel in control not only of the Sinai and the Gaza Strip but also of the West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights after Jordan and Syria joined the battle with Egypt.

Since then, a coalition of Muslim and developing nations, which have a majority of the assembly, have regularly condemned Israel. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has frequently criticized the assembly's resolutions, although he has been critical of the current Israeli government's tactics.

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