For the second time in two weeks, the United States has joined a unanimous Security Council vote rebuking Israel, this time for not cooperating with a U.N. investigation of the Temple Mount killings.
Not even a last-ditch personal appeal from President Bush to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir persuaded Israel to change its mind and officially receive the U.N. investigators.Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar said Thursday that he would meet the Israeli ambassador "to confirm their refusal to my mission."
Perez de Cuellar said last week that if Israel doesn't cooperate with the U.N. investigation, he would have no option but to limit his report to ways of protecting Palestinians in the occupied territories seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
Top aides to Shamir said Thursday that Israel will ignore the new U.N. resolution and said that Washington was coerced into voting for the measure to preserve its alliance with Arab countries opposing Iraq.
"We are sorry because this helps Saddam Hussein to distract attention from what is happening in the gulf to what is happening in Jerusalem," said Shamir spokesman Avi Pazner.
The U.N. resolution, approved 15-0 on Wednesday, is largely symbolic. No sanctions against Israel are expected, said British Ambassador David Hannay, who is president of the council for October.
Still, Hannay said Israel's treatment of Palestinians "is not going to go away from the council agenda . . . The principal loser by not receiving the U.N. mission will be Israel."
Israeli security forces trying to quell a riot opened fire and killed 19 Palestinians on Jerusalem's sacred Temple Mount on Oct. 8. Beforehand, Arabs had thrown a volley of stones on Jews praying below at the Western Wall.
Israel has since seen a spate of Arab-Israeli revenge attacks. In response, Israeli authorities sealed off the occupied territories Wednesday, preventing Palestinians from getting to jobs in Israel.
On Oct. 12, the United States broke with past practice and joined a 15-0 council vote denouncing Israeli security forces for the shootings on the Temple Mount, in which about 140 Palestinians were wounded.