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Arafat to meet with Security Council seeking U.N. protection force

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From Ronni Berke
CNN U.N. Producer

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat will hold a closed meeting with the U.N. Security Council on Friday morning to push for a U.N. protection force for Palestinian civilians on the West Bank and Gaza, diplomats said Wednesday.

Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian observer to the U.N., said it was very important for the Palestinians to have their president argue the case. "That's the whole idea," Al-Kidwa said. "We have a very strong case."

To give equal time to Israel, the Security Council will hold a separate meeting with Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Lancry.

The Security Council held its first discussion Wednesday on the Palestinian proposal, first floated last week, for a protection force of 2,000 military observers that would be stationed throughout the West Bank and Gaza, but not along conflict lines.

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Israel has repeatedly rejected such a proposal as an infringement on its sovereignty. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as well as the United States and some other Security Council members, have said that such a force could not function without Israel's cooperation.

'This isn't a traditional peacekeeping operation'

Al-Kidwa said rules about national sovereignty do not apply in this conflict. "This isn't a traditional peacekeeping operation," he said. "We do not think that the a priori consent of the party in question is needed. This is not a sovereign state ... this is an occupying power," he said.

Al-Kidwa said he planned to have a draft resolution on a U.N. force circulated to council members by late Friday and hoped for action on the measure next week.

Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yasser Arafat both will be in the United States this week for talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton aimed at stopping the deadly fighting in the Middle East. Barak has said his meeting with Clinton, scheduled for Sunday, would "support the American effort to put an end to the violence and to stabilize the situation."

He flatly rejected the Palestinian demand for an international peacekeeping force in the region, saying such a presence would "reward ... the Palestinian violence."

The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution on October 20 that was critical of Israel, condemning "acts of violence, especially the excessive use of force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians."

Lancry said then that the resolution was "useless" and that his country rejected the measure.

The Palestinian leadership has for weeks sought international intervention in the Gaza fighting, and before that wanted an international inquiry into the violence, which has disrupted life and business in Gaza and the West Bank since late September.

The Israelis had previously accepted an American proposal to have representatives of both sides and the United States investigate the cause of the violence, but the Palestinian side was holding out for a broader composition for the inquiry team.



RELATED STORIES:
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Barak says he will participate in Washington peace talks if Arafat will
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Clinton hopes for meetings with Arafat, Barak
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Peres, Arafat will meet, try to end Mideast violence
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U.N. to hold special session on Mideast violence
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U.N. leader improves hopes for resolving Mideast crisis
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RELATED SITES:
United Nations
Israel Defense Forces
Addameer: Palestinian Human Rights Association
International Red Cross Red Crescent
Palestinian State Information Service
Palestinian National Authority Home Page
Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees

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