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UN Security Council Debates Mideast Crisis

The United Nations Security Council debated the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians Monday, but with no consensus on what action the Council should take.

The head of the Palestine Observer Mission, Nasser Al-Kidwa, opened the debate with charges that Israel is guilty of "atrocities" against the Palestinian people. Mr. Al-Kidwa did condemn suicide bombings against Israel. However, the Palestinian representative said those suicide attacks did not occur until after what he characterized as a "bloody military campaign" carried out by Israel against the Palestinians. "Tension and confrontation are being caused because Israeli occupying forces expanded against Palestinian populated areas constituting a state of unbearable pressure on our people," he said.

Mr. Al-Kidwa expressed strong support for a proposed Security Council resolution that would establish some type of international "monitoring mechanism" in the West Bank and Gaza.

But Israeli ambassador Yehuda Lancry said the proposed resolution is one-sided and Israel remains opposed to an international monitoring presence. "How can the Palestinians claim the need for protection while they kill Israelis by the dozens on an ongoing basis?" he asked.

United States representative James Cunningham indicated his government still opposes any kind of international protection force. Mr. Cunningham said 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 observer force.

Diplomats say it is unlikely the Council will vote on any resolution until later in the week.

Many speakers emphasized the importance of the recommendations of the so-called Mitchell Commission. The Commission outlined steps that both Israel and the Palestinians can take to end the violence, rebuild confidence and resume negotiations.