Arafat slams U.S. for vetoing East Jerusalem resolution
March 8, 1997
Web posted at: 2:43 p.m. EST (1943 GMT)
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (CNN) -- Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat condemned the United States Saturday for vetoing a
U.N. resolution calling for Israel to abandon plans to build
a Jewish neighborhood in disputed East Jerusalem.
"It is a completely wrong decision," Arafat said, referring
to the U.S. action.
The United States cast the only "no" vote Friday night when
the U.N. Security Council took up a European-sponsored
resolution asking Israel to "refrain from all actions or
measures" that "alter the facts on the ground" or prejudice
future talks on the status of Jerusalem.
Because the United States is one of five permanent members of
the council, its veto killed the resolution sponsored by its
allies Britain, France, Sweden and Portugal.
Arafat made his comments after meeting with Jordanian Prime
Minister Abdul-Karim Kabariti, who hinted the veto could
jeopardize the U.S. role as mediator in the Middle East.
"It really calls for ... new American efforts to prove that
this veto does not mean some backtracking of the original
position of the American administration," Kabariti said.
Palestinian Cabinet Member Yasser Abd-Abbo was even more
critical of the United States, saying the veto "proved"
Washington could not be "an honest broker" in the peace
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Israel plans to build 6,500 homes at a site called Har Homa
by Israel and Jabal Abu Ghneim by the Palestinians. The
disputed region is primarily Arab, and Palestinians consider
plans to build on the land a violation of Israeli-Palestinian
peace accords. The Palestinians want to establish East
Jerusalem as the capital of a sought-after Palestinian state.
Palestinian students in Gaza took to the streets in protest
Saturday. "Jerusalem is ours," they chanted. "It's either us
or you on that land." Hundreds of Israeli peace activists in
the West Bank also held rallies, urging their country to
abolish plans to build the housing.
But U.S. ambassador Bill Richardson defended the decision,
saying the Security Council was "not an appropriate forum for
debating the issues between the parties."
Freddy Eytan, an Israeli Foreign Ministry senior adviser,
welcomed the veto but lashed out at the European nations that
drafted the resolution.
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Dispute over West Bank handover
Arafat said he would consult with King Hussein in Jordan
later Saturday about a unilateral Israeli decision on Friday
to hand over 9 percent of the West Bank in the first of
three phased pullbacks under the U.S.-backed accords.
The Palestinian leader called the decision "a trick and
conspiracy," saying the peace agreements call for the
transfer of 30 percent of the land during each withdrawal.
He said he would seek the king's advice and "see how he is
going to help us overcome this obstacle."
Under the peace agreement, the pullback would conclude by
mid-1998. The size of each withdrawal is not well-defined.
The Palestinians have said they expect to be in control of
most of the West Bank by the third stage, while Israeli
leaders say they expect to remain in control of half of the
West Bank at that time.
Final borders will be set in talks on a permanent peace
agreement set to begin this month and conclude by May 1999.
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.
- Netanyahu defends pullback decision; PLO critical - March 7, 1997
- U.S. vetoes resolution condemning Israeli housing - March 7, 1997
- Israel considers extent of next West Bank pullout - March 6, 1997
- Arafat: Peace process must 'carry on,' despite housing dispute - March 4, 1997
- Clinton supports Arafat, questions Netanyahu's timing - March 3, 1997
- Arafat embarks on U.S. trip as tensions rise over Jerusalem - March 2, 1997
- Arafat: Housing plan violates peace process - February 27, 1997
- Riots feared over Israeli housing plan in Jerusalem - February 26, 1997
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