Criticized by friend and foe alike over the killing of 21 Arabs in Jerusalem, Israeli officials were defiant Saturday after the U.S. Senate refused to condemn Jewish settlement in Arab areas.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior official told Reuters it would be hard for Washington to press for a U.N. Commission of inquiry into the killings after Friday's 90-8 Senate vote."I can hardly see how tough they can get at Israel at this particular moment, hours after the Senate vote. They don't have a constituency for this," he said.
The United States is Israel's main ally and biggest backer, sending the Jewish state $3 billion in aid annually.
But relations have been strained by the right-wing Israeli government's failure to talk peace with Palestinians and its plans to boost Jewish settlement in Arab territories captured in the 1967 Middle East war, including East Jerusalem.
The Israeli official's remarks came as Palestinian sources said two residents of Jenin in the occupied West Bank who were suspected of collaborating with Israel were killed by Palestinian uprising activists.
The Oct. 8 killings of 21 Palestinians, at one of Islam's holiest sites, put pressure on the United States' alliance with Arab and other Moslem armies facing Iraq in the Gulf and led to rare American support for a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli actions.
United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar told the Security Council Friday that he could not send a mission linked to the resolution to probe the Jerusalem Temple Mount deaths as long as Israel refused to receive the investigators.
The Israeli official said his government would not drop its opposition to a U.N. mission to Jerusalem, which it sees as a violation of Israeli sovereignty, and he was confident the pressure would gradually fade.
"We are not opening any champagne yet, on Monday there is a another session of the Security Council and who knows what they will decide over there, but I think that as time goes on the stalemate will gradually disappear," he said.
Meanwhile, Israeli security sources Saturday confirmed the two bodies were found in Jenin.