- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2004

UNITED NATIONS — The United States and Algeria could not agree yesterday on a U.N. Security Council statement that would have condemned Israel’s assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

Delegations met Monday and yesterday to discuss a proposed text circulated by Algeria, the only Arab nation on the council, that would have the president of the Security Council condemn the killing.

Algeria withdrew the statement after the United States insisted on language in the document that also would have condemned recent terrorist activities by Hamas, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said.

“The essential point here was that the proponents of this statement did not want to refer to terrorism conducted by Hamas and that was the fundamental objection we had,” Mr. Negroponte said.

The Palestinians then called for an open meeting of the Security Council to discuss Sheik Yassin’s killing, which occurred in Gaza City early Monday.

France’s U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, said it was likely that Israel’s foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, would appear at the meeting, when all U.N. delegations could speak about the subject.

The Palestinians have drafted a resolution for the Security Council condemning the assassination, a spokesman from the Palestinian observer mission to the United Nations said. The United States would almost certainly veto that resolution.

Such maneuvers have occurred several times in the past: The Palestinians introduce a resolution to the council condemning an Israeli action, forcing a U.S. veto because of American policy that such resolutions also condemn attacks by Palestinian militant groups. The Palestinians then seek a resolution from the U.N. General Assembly, where no nation has veto power.

In Geneva, the U.N. human rights body decided yesterday to hold Israel accountable for its assassination of Sheik Yassin.

The 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission approved a resolution from the Organization of the Islamic Conference to hold a special debate today on the assassination.

Developing countries, which make up most of the watchdog’s membership, mustered 34 votes in favor of the resolution. The United States, Australia and Eritrea voted against it. Fourteen countries, most from Europe, abstained.

Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Levy condemned the commission’s move.

“It will be the first time in the history of the United Nations that a session is dedicated to lauding, supporting, glorifying a major leader of a terrorist organization. A new low, the worst ever,” he told the commission.

Hamas has taken responsibility for many of the suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis in the past 31/2 years.

If the commission decides to condemn Israel’s actions, the country will face no penalty. Censure by the U.N. body simply draws attention to a country’s human rights record.

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