Unless the United States reverses its decision to deny Yasser Arafat an entry visa, the U.N. debate on Palestine will shift to Geneva so the PLO chairman can address the General Assembly, diplomats said.
Arab representatives agreed Tuesday to introduce a resolution in the United Nations that deplores the U.S. action, postpones the debate on Palestine scheduled for Thursday and urges Washington to grant the visa, said M. Nasser Kidwa, second in charge at the PLO's observer mission.The resolution will be introduced Tuesday before a U.N. committee and may go to the General Assembly later Tuesday or Wednesday, he said.
Saturday's decision by Secretary of State George P. Shultz to bar Arafat from the country on grounds he was an "accessory" to acts of terrorism against Americans has been widely criticized by dozens of countries, including the Arab world and such staunch U.S. allies as Britain, Canada and Australia.
Only Israel backed the U.S. decision.
A senior U.N. official said on condition of anonymity that if the United States still refuses to grant Arafat a visa, another resolution probably will call this week for moving the assembly to Geneva.
Arab diplomats say they have enough votes, a simple majority in the 159-member body, to shift the assembly to where Arafat would be able to speak.
U.N. legal counsel Carl-August Fleischhauer told a U.N. committee the U.S. decision violates the 1947 U.S.-U.N. Headquarters Agreement that requires the host country to grant visas to people invited by the United Nations.
"The agreement does not contain a reservation of the right to bar the entry of those who represent, in the view of the host country, a threat to its sovereignty and security," Fleischhauer said.
Many nations in the world body said the U.S. action countered what they described as the Palestine Liberation Organization's move toward modernization with its declaration of Palestinian independence Nov. 15 that also implicitely recognized Israel.