- The Washington Times - Monday, September 16, 2002

NEW YORK Security Council member Syria, in a speech reflecting the views of many Muslim and anti-Western countries, complained yesterday that Israel had violated more U.N. resolutions than Iraq and yet was not subject to threats of military action.
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara also pointed out that Israel, not Iraq, was occupying foreign lands, ignoring Security Council resolutions and openly producing nuclear weapons.
"In this light, we see no justification for igniting a new war in the Middle East," he said. "We strongly believe that striking Iraq represent the blind bias and the distorted vision of the real situation in the Middle East.
"Why should the world request Iraq to adhere to Security Council resolutions, while Israel is allowed to be above international law?" he asked.
Mr. Shara's address to the annual U.N. general debate comes two days before Washington sits down with members of the Quartet, the primary group of outside negotiators on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
On Saturday, Arab foreign ministers and other diplomats at the United Nations called on Iraq to admit U.N. weapons inspectors, but did not support the use of force.
In his address yesterday, Mr. Shara blamed Israel for inciting a series of conflicts in the Middle East.
"Since the end of the Second World War, our region has witnessed a series of wars and destruction which were the result of an Israeli approach based on occupation settlement and the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of their homeland," he said.
"The United Nations has adopted hundreds of resolutions which Israel refused to implement in a stark challenge to the will of the international community."
Many Arab governments have long blamed the United States for sheltering Israel from binding Security Council resolutions. They also note that Israel is using U.S.-made military hardware in its military incursions into the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"It is, indeed, legitimate to ask the United States to distance itself from Israeli aggressive practices and apply to Israel the American law which prohibits the use of American weapons against a third party," Mr. Shara said.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will devote most of the day tomorrow to the partly overlapping concerns in the Middle East.
Foreign ministers from the Quartet the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia are to meet all day alone and in separate sessions with Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians.
A senior State Department official said last week that Mr. Powell would discuss with diplomats a pending Security Council resolution to force Iraq's compliance with weapons inspectors.
But Israel's own noncompliance has come up regularly in the first four days of the 10-day U.N. debate, although not often as vehemently as in yesterday's Syrian address.
Malaysia, which next year will helm the 131-nation Non-Aligned Movement, warned in its speech Saturday that there will be a backlash against those who support Israel.
"Israel's oppressive policies and practices have made life for the Palestinians unbearable and have engendered only hatred and resentment against the occupying power, illegal settlers and those who are perceived to provide them support," said Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi.
Israel claimed land from Jordan, Syria and Egypt during the 1967 Six Day War, which began when it was attacked by its neighbors.

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