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UN Adopts Resolution Demanding Israeli Withdrawal

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution demanding that Israel withdraw to positions it held before the violence began two years ago and expressing grave concern over the plight facing the Palestinian people. The resolution passed with 114 votes in favor, four opposed and eleven abstentions.

The General Assembly resolution reiterates the call for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied Palestinian areas and emphasizes the need to minimize the hardships endured by the Palestinian people, by allowing free access of medical and humanitarian organizations.

The emergency resolution, drafted by Palestinian and European Union envoys, was approved just days after a United Nations report dismissed earlier claims of a massacre in the Jenin refugee camp.

The General Assembly, which ordered the probe into the Israeli offensive in Jenin, said it "deplored" Israel's failure to cooperate by refusing to allow the Secretary General's original team of investigators into the area. The report found that 52 Palestinians, half of whom were civilians were killed in Jenin, although Palestinians had earlier alleged that the death toll was in the hundreds.

In his remarks earlier, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, rebuked the United Nations for the timing of the discussion, and said the debate should have begun with a rejection of terrorism. "For too long the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council have been silent when Israelis are victims of terrorism," he said. "Member states must reject the rationale given by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others that their terrorist bombings are somehow justified by the state of affairs in the Middle East."

Speaking earlier, the Palestinian Observer to the United Nations, Nasser al-Kidwa said that Palestinian suffering has recently worsened due to Israeli imposed curfews, road closures, and the denial of medical treatment. "The situation has become worse since the period covered by the report," she said. "The situation has gravely deteriorated as the Israeli occupying forces continue to wage their military campaign against the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, and regrettably continues to worsen each day."

The resolution, which followed a day-long debate in the General Assembly, called on Israel to withdraw to its pre-September 2000 borders and cease its military incursions into occupied territory.

An earlier version invoked far harsher language towards Israel. The final version included a condemnation of attacks against civilians on both sides.

Israel accused the General Assembly of failing sympathize with the suffering of Israeli civilians, following a recent spree of deadly Palestinian attacks inside Israel, which killed at least 13 Israelis and five Americans.

The United States and Israel were two of four countries that voted against the resolution.