Israeli housing project criticized at U.N. assembly
King Hussein says Netanyahu's Arab policies may spur violence
March 12, 1997
Web posted at: 5:20 p.m. EST (2220 GMT)
In this story:
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Diplomats from various countries
denounced Israel before the General Assembly on Wednesday for
its "illegal" plan to build a Jewish neighborhood in Arab
Separately, King Hussein of Jordan warned of a violent
response from Palestinians if the plan proceeds. "I think if
it happens there is a very strong chance of violence," he
said in Amman during an interview with CNN. (272K/20 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Visiting Moscow, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said he was "fed up" with accusations that his actions were
hurting the chances of peace in the Middle East.
Resolution is non-binding
The General Assembly began a debate Wednesday on Israel's
settlement policy. Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian observer
to the United Nations, was among several speakers supporting
a proposed U.N. resolution that calls upon Israel to freeze
Al-Kidwa claimed the East Jerusalem project violates
international law because it infringes on the status of
Jerusalem, which is supposed to be negotiated by the Israelis
"There can be no peace in the Middle East without the
restoration of our legal rights in Jerusalem," he said.
General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, and the
Israelis routinely ignore U.N. declarations on relations with
Nevertheless, Arab diplomats said they thought the General
Assembly session was important to demonstrate the breadth of
international opposition to Netanyahu.
A similar resolution before the Security Council was vetoed
last Friday by the United States, which said the United
Nations is not proper forum for achieving progress in the
Chorus of opposition to Israeli plan
Israel used the same argument on Wednesday as speakers from
throughout the world joined the Palestinians before the
185-member General Assembly in denouncing Israeli settlement
Israel's acting U.N. ambassador, David Peleg, accused the
Palestinians of turning "to parties not involved in the peace
process with the hope of imposing their positions on
(366K/35 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Indonesia's U.N. ambassador, Nugroho Wisnamurti, said the
world community should act to save the peace process from the
"irresponsible policies of Israel."
Japan's deputy U.N. ambassador, Masaki Konishi, said Tokyo
considers Israel's decision "regrettable" and that it "runs
the risk of jeopardizing" planned talks on the status of
Hussein: 'air of crisis,' harsh letter
In his interview with CNN, King Hussein said there was "an
air of crisis" over peace talks between the Palestinians and
Israelis. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had been reduced
to a state of "complete despair," he said.
"I feel very strongly that things are not moving in the
right direction, or fast enough, and we are sliding toward
the possibility of despair and extremism that might come
with it and violence," he told CNN.
Senior U.S. officials said Washington understands King
Hussein's frustration, which was also expressed in a harsh
personal letter to Netanyahu released Tuesday.
The Jordanian monarch, who has made peace with Israel, said
he was distressed over Netanyahu's "tragic actions,"
including the decision to build the housing project in Arab
Netanyahu: 'fed up'
"I'm getting fed up with the idea that everything we do is a
violation of the agreement, and everything the Palestinians
say is in compliance with the agreement," Netanyahu said at a
news conference in Moscow at the end of a three-day visit.
"If the Palestinians are serious about peace, let them sit
down with us," he said. "But if they think they can foment
violence and increased tensions, ... we're not going to play
that game. We want real peace."
Correspondents Richard Roth, Steve Hurst and Reuters contributed to this report.
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