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UN Security Council Negotiates Draft Resolution on Ramallah Seige - 2002-09-23

American and Palestinian diplomats are negotiating on a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that would, among other things, call on Israel to stop destroying installations at Yasser Arafat's Ramallah headquarters.

The council met Monday in an emergency session at the request of Arab governments as the Israeli siege in Ramallah continued for a fourth day.

Hoping to avoid having to veto a Palestinian resolution on Ramallah, the United States submitted one of its own. The U.S. text, as the Arab one, calls on Israel to stop its destruction in the Ramallah compound. But it links U.S. and Israeli concerns over terrorism to the current crisis, insisting that the Palestinians bring to justice those responsible for suicide bombings against Israeli citizens. And it makes an Israeli troop withdrawal from Palestinian areas contingent on Israel's security interests.

The U.S. text is not likely to be acceptable. But it provides a basis for negotiations. Diplomats say Washington realizes a U.S. veto over Israel would be awkward at a time when the Bush administration is trying to persuade the Security Council to get tough on Iraq.