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UN plea to bar Israeli fence looks set for US veto
( 2003-10-15 10:35) (Agencies)

A draft Security Council resolution seeking to bar Israel from extending a security fence deep into the West Bank appeared headed for a U.S. veto on Tuesday after Arab nations called for an immediate vote.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said a resolution would have to denounce, by name, the main groups that have taken responsibility for the suicide bombings and also condemn the recent deadly attack in Haifa, Israel, to win his backing -- conditions the Palestinians are unlikely to accept.

"I believe that morally the United States will have no choice but to veto this very biased resolution," Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman told reporters.

He spoke after a six-hour public Security Council meeting at which ambassadors from dozens of nations lined up to denounce the Israeli plans to prolong the barrier, already 90 miles long.

Most of the council's 15 members have expressed general support for the draft text, although some have signaled they would try to make the resolution more balanced by adding language denouncing suicide bombings by Palestinian militants.

But Gillerman insisted the wall was required to prevent militants from sneaking into Israel to mount suicide attacks.

The resolution's author, Palestinian U.N. envoy Nasser al-Kidwa, acknowledged Washington likely would kill the measure but said he was open to last-minute amendments aimed at averting a veto, as long as they "happen in a balanced and reasonable way."


Al-Kidwa told the Security Council the Israeli plan to build the second phase of its security fence was a land grab aimed at colonization rather than an anti-terrorism measure.

He said the fence would at some points reach more than 13 miles into Palestinian territory, disrupting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in dozens of towns and villages.

Al-Kidwa said the goal of the barrier was to colonize Palestinian land, with some 400,000 Israeli settlers already moved in, and to derail the Middle East peace process and its plans for a Palestinian state by 2005.

If Israel truly believed the wall was being constructed for security purposes, it should build it along its 1967 border with the West Bank, he said.

"True, this would be a bad thing in terms of coexistence between the two sides, but no one would say it was illegal," al-Kidwa said.

Gillerman said the wall was intended solely to keep out suicide bombers and argued that completing it would increase Palestinians' freedom of movement by enabling Israeli defense forces to dismantle some of their current roadblocks.

The fence "does not annex territories to the state of Israel, nor does it change the status of the land, its ownership, or the legal status of the residents of these areas," he said.

"Many Palestinians who oppose the fence simply want to continue killing Israelis. The Israelis building the fence simply want to live," Gillerman said.

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