The president of the General Assembly said Friday that he will visit Palestinian refugee camps in the Israeli-occupied territories and Jordan next month.
Guido de Marco made the announcement the day after the 159-member U.N. body voted overwhelmingly in favor of sanctions against Israel for occupying the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to convene an international peace conference.De Marco, who is the foreign minister of Malta, also repeated the call for a Middle East peace conference at a news conference Friday, saying it "must become a reality."
General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they carry moral weight as the expression of the will of the international community, especially in the post-Cold War era when the United States and the Soviet Union are cooperating on many issues.
By contrast, resolutions passed by the 15-nation Security Council are considered legally binding. The United States has been trying to prevent any reference to a Middle East peace conference in a draft resolution providing more protection for the Palestinians.
The United States maintains such a reference might be misinterpreted by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as linking the Israeli-Palestinian issue to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which the United States refuses to do.
De Marco's itinerary was not disclosed, but the trip was expected to take place in the first week of January and will probably include meetings with government leaders in Israel and Jordan, the officials said.
The United States and non-aligned members of the Security Council are at an impasse over the reference to an international peace conference in the draft resolution, although it merely states longstanding U.S. policy. Negotiations are continuing, and the council is to meet again Monday.
Some Arab members have indicated that if the the stalemate persists in the council they would try to raise the issue in the General Assembly.
De Marco said Friday that he did not want to force a contradiction between the positions of the assembly and the council and therefore hoped the issue could be resolved without recourse to the assembly.