U.S. says plans to stem anti-Israel resolutions in UN
By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service
The U.S. State Department announced its intentions to stem the number of resolutions against Israel passed in the United Nations General Assembly, Israel Radio announced early Saturday morning.
The statements by senior State Department officials come as the United Nation's main deliberative body opens its 59th session at its New York headquarters.
American representatives partially succeeded in blocking such resolutions during the last session.
The statements follow a resolution adopted at a non-governmental conference committee meeting Wednesday at UN headquarters calling for UN member nations and international bodies to increase their pressure on Israel to put an end to the occupation.
The resolution included an explicit threat that "if Israel does not comply [and end the occupation], sanctions will be leveled and an arms embargo will be put in place." The resolution also threatened economic divestment from Israel.
The NGOs vowed they would "pressure [international] governments to meticulously enforce decisions concerning Palestinian rights" and added it was the "responsibility of the international community to provide serious protection, particularly of women and children, to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation."
The "2004-2005 Plan for action to support Palestinian rights through international law and the United Nations" was presented to the International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People after being adopted by its Steering Committee.
According to the draft, if Israel continues to violate international obligations, the NGOs would initiate divestment and other targeted sanctions and would urge governments to impose restrictions including arms bans, withdrawal of economic privileges, bans against products manufactured in Israeli settlements and travel restrictions on violators of international law.
The draft approval was given added weight when it was announced just one day after the official opening of the UN General Assembly's 59th session. The NGOs' diplomatic move was also seen as a special effort to influence UN debates on Middle East issues expected to be held in the newly-opened session.
The NGO council is considered a pivotal international organization with significant influence in the UN.
Analysts in New York believe the NGO threat of sanctions was in step with opinions now being voiced in the UN. Palestinian representatives are planning to submit a draft resolution on the West Bank separation barrier to the General Assembly that would for the first time include the threat of sanctions against Israel if it does not comply with the ruling issued by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
In message sent to conference participants, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for prompt implementation of the road map peace plan.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is slated to depart Saturday for the General Assembly meeting in New York. During his visit, Shalom will meet with Annan, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and 30 other foreign ministers, including some from Arab states.