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Israel Tells UN Syria Is 'Haven for Terrorists' - 2002-06-13

Israel accused Syria Thursday in the U.N. Security Council of harboring terrorists and encouraging Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens. The charge came during the Council's first public meeting on the Middle East in six weeks, with Syria's U.N. ambassador presiding.

Israeli ambassador Yehuda Lancry called Syria a haven for terrorists. He noted that several terrorist groups are headquartered in the Syrian capital, including the Islamic Jihad, which is linked to suicide bombings inside Israel.

Israel has repeatedly accused Syria of being a major sponsor of terrorism aimed at foiling regional peace efforts. It finds Syrian membership in the Security Council contradictory to the Council's responsibility for international peace and security.

The Security Council adopted a resolution earlier this year calling for an immediate cease-fire, and an end to violence by both the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Israeli ambassador said the resolution meant nothing to the sponsors of suicide attacks:.

"Not a single day has passed since the adoption of resolution 1402 in which Palestinian terrorists have not attempted to carry out an attack against Israeli civilians," he said. "On many days they succeeded."

This Security Council meeting, at the request of Arab governments, basically was held to air grievances and re-state familiar positions. No resolution was presented. The Council has been shoved to the sidelines, as top-level outside diplomacy tries to deal with the Middle East.

The chief Palestinian delegate in New York told the Security Council he is willing to wait for the results of these various diplomatic efforts, which include the United States, the European Union, and Russia. But he warned if nothing emerges that would satisfy Palestinian hopes for a separate state, he will demand more action from the Security Council.

The Palestinians have been trying to get a U.N. force deployed in Palestinian areas, an idea Israel categorically rejects.