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UN General Assembly to Hold Emergency Session on Middle East - 2003-09-18


The United Nations General Assembly meets in an emergency session Friday on the conflict in the Middle East. The assembly will debate a resolution almost identical to the one vetoed by the United States this week in the Security Council.

Arab and non-aligned countries asked for the emergency General Assembly session to discuss Israel's threat to remove Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The meeting is scheduled for Friday morning.

The resolution demands that Israel halt any act of deportation and cease any threat to the safety of the Palestinian leader. The wording is exactly the same as in the resolution vetoed by the United States a few days ago, except for some minor additions.

In announcing the hastily-called meeting, General Assembly spokeswoman Michele Montas read part of the request sent by the Sudanese ambassador to Assembly President Julian Hunte of St. Lucia.

"I have the honor to request resumption of the 10th emergency special session of the General Assembly in light of the inability of the Security Council to fulfill its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, due to the exercise by one of its permanent members of the veto," she said.

The United States infuriated the Arab world with its Security Council veto of the resolution censuring Israel. Eleven of the 15 council members voted in favor of the measure, while three including Germany and Britain abstained.

Unlike the Security Council, the General Assembly vote is largely symbolic. It is not legally binding and it cannot be blocked by a veto.