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U.N. condemns Israeli ''excessive use of force''

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October 21, 2000 


UNITED NATIONS (AP) In a third U.N. admonition of Israel, the General Assembly voted Friday to condemn the ``excessive use of force'' by Israeli troops against Palestinians and called for a truce and resumption of peace talks.

The United States, Israel and four other countries voted against the non-binding resolution, which also called Israeli settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace. Ninety-two countries voted for the Palestinian-drafted resolution and 46 abstained. Some 30 countries didn't vote altogether.

U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said the United States couldn't support the resolution because it was biased and would only exacerbate the situation on the ground, which flared Friday with nine Palestinians killed in the worst violence in two weeks.

``It was a mistake to bring this kind of resolution to he floor in the middle of a world crisis,'' he told reporters after the vote. ``It was mistake to put forward a resolution that would undermine peace efforts.''

But he noted that the resolution passed with the smallest majority ever for a resolution on the subject, and called the tally a ``significant setback for the people who want to abuse and misuse the General Assembly.''

The vote came at the conclusion of a two-day emergency session of the General Assembly during which dozens of ambassadors expressed support for this week's peace efforts but resoundingly criticized the Israeli response to Palestinian mob protests.

Egyptian Ambassador Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on Israel to correct what he said was the root of the problem by withdrawing from territories it has occupied since 1967.

``Only then may Israel have the legitimacy it deserves and aspires to,'' Aboul Gheit said. ``And only then will our peoples know an end to a conflict that has ripped our region apart for the last half-century.''

The resolution was the third adopted by the United Nations since the violence began Sept. 28.

On Oct. 7, with the United States abstaining, the Security Council condemned the excessive use of force against Palestinians. On Thursday, the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Commission voted to set up an inquiry into the violence.

The United States voted against the Geneva resolution. Washington doesn't have veto power in either body only in the Security Council.

The European Union successfully softened the assembly resolution. The final draft includes a call on both sides to implement their pledges made at this week's summit in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt for a truce and a recommitment to peace.

While the draft condemns the ``excessive use of force'' by Israeli troops, there is also a condemnation of general acts of violence an amendment sought by the EU to moderate the text.

But only nine of the EU members signed off on the final version. Six abstained: Britain, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan who spent days shuttling in the region to cobble together Tuesday's summit said he hoped the assembly session would send a message that supports the summit declaration.

``I hope it would be a message that will be conciliatory ... a message that will encourage the parties to implement the agreement,'' he said.

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