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UN Mideast Debate Ends Without Decision - 2001-08-22

Two days of open debate on the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians ended late Tuesday in the United Nations Security Council with no decision on what, if any, action to take.

After almost 50 speakers, the debate ended pretty much where it began with Israeli and Palestinian representatives trading charges on which side is responsible for the violence.

The central issue before the Council, whether to send international observers to the occupied territories, remains unresolved. In his closing statement, Israeli ambassador Yehuda Lancry repeated his government's opposition to an international monitoring force. Mr. Lancry criticized a draft Security Council resolution supported by the Palestinians. "We consider the draft resolution being circulated at the behest of the Palestinians, in spite of its sophisticated content, totally impracticable," he said.

The current version of the draft resolution calls for the establishment of a "monitoring mechanism" to help the parties comply with the so-called "Mitchell Report" that outlines steps to end the violence, restore confidence and resume negotiations.

The head of the Palestine Observer Mission to the United Nations, Nasser Al-Kidwa, told reporters the language in the resolution is quite modest. "We think that the draft resolution is a reasonable one," he said. "It reflects agreed language among the members of the Council."

However on Monday, the United States signaled that it may oppose the resolution saying now is not the time to "impose unworkable ideas that will not change the reality on the ground." Last March the United States vetoed a resolution that would have created an international observer mission in the West Bank and Gaza.

In the next few days, Council members will hold closed consultations to decide whether to vote on a resolution, issue a consensus statement or do nothing.