- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2005

NEW YORK — Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, yesterday praised the U.N. Security Council’s condemnation of a weekend bombing in Tel Aviv as the latest sign of Israel’s thawing relationship with the United Nations.

“It is an important diplomatic achievement,” he said. “The diplomatic community recognizes that Israel has done everything it could, and it’s time for the Palestinians to act to ensure that the peace process can continue. They see Israel has showed restraint and allowed diplomacy to take its course.”

He also said his government is looking forward to a visit to Jerusalem this month by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The Security Council late Monday issued a press statement condemning “in the strongest possible terms” the Friday night attack on a beachfront nightclub that killed five and shattered Israel’s relative three-month calm.

“The Security Council also condemns such terrorist attacks because they undermine the hopes and aspirations of the Israeli and Palestinian people as they seek a just, durable and peaceful solution,” the members said in a document that carries less weight than either a presidential statement or a resolution.

The text also welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to pursue and punish the perpetrators.

The Israeli government met over the weekend with Israeli-based ambassadors from Security Council countries to share what Mr. Gillerman called “very strong intelligence” implicating Islamic Jihad and the Syrian government in the blast.

The United States had attempted to name Islamic Jihad in the text, but resistance from Algeria forced a deletion of the reference. Several diplomats said they felt the need to issue the statement on the eve of yesterday’s Quartet meeting in London.

Mr. Gillerman said his government would like to have seen the statement issued as a more weighty council resolution or even a presidential statement, but “the U.N., being what it is, you don’t get everything you hope for.”

“There is a real change in the attitude of the United Nations, as well as the realization that Israel is on the right side of the war on terror and is making great effort” to disengage from the Gaza Strip, he said.

“There are suggestions that [Israel’s restraint] and the new Palestinian leadership may lead to a breakthrough in the region and the U.N. wants to be part of it.”

Mr. Annan is expected to visit Israel on March 15 for the opening of a museum at Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial, and spend some time in Ramallah, the Palestinian capital, U.N. officials said. It will be his first visit to the region since March 1998.

The secretary-general was instrumental in convening a special session of the U.N. General Assembly in late January to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust, an event that Israeli and Jewish leaders described as one of the most moving events at U.N. headquarters.

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