Accessibility links

Israel Vows to Maintain Arafat Siege, Despite UN Resolution - 2002-09-24

Israel vowed Tuesday to press on with its military siege against Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's West Bank headquarters, in spite of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the troops to withdraw. Israel expressed strong reservations about some sections of the U.N. resolution.

Israeli government officials say the military offensive against Mr. Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah will continue in spite of the U.N. resolution.

Israel is demanding the surrender of at least 20 wanted Palestinians who are holed up with Mr. Arafat in the last building still standing in the compound.

Israeli troops, backed by tanks and bulldozers, demolished the rest of the compound following two Palestinian suicide bombings last week.

The Security Council resolution was passed by a margin of 14-0, with the United States abstaining. The resolution calls for an immediate end to what it calls "the reoccupation" of the Palestinian leader's offices.

Israeli officials have said that the standoff in Ramallah will only end when it gains custody of the wanted Palestinians. Israel says either they must surrender or Mr. Arafat must leave the building so the troops can attack it without harming him.

The U.N. resolution demands that Israel cease its military actions in and around Ramallah, including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure facilities.

It also demands that Israeli troops withdraw from all Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and return to the positions held before the start of the current clashes in September 2000.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is reported to object to the sections of the U.N. resolution that specifically relate to the siege of the Ramallah compound.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Sofer called the resolution one sided.

But other Israeli officials say the document contains several positive elements including condemnation of Palestinian terrorist attacks, and a call for the Palestinian Authority to bring terrorists to justice.