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Palestinians Win Backing in U.N. on Israeli Housing Issue

March 13, 1997| From Times Wire Services

UNITED NATIONS — Palestinians won broad support Wednesday in the U.N. General Assembly as countries throughout the world called on Israel to reverse its decision to build Jewish housing in traditionally Arab East Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem, Internal Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani said Israel will begin breaking ground next week for the new Jewish settlement.

U.N. speakers from the European Union, Japan, China, Australia, Russia, Latin America and Africa joined Arab states in branding the decision to build the 6,500-unit Har Homa housing area a threat to Middle East peace.

Several speakers also criticized the United States for vetoing a resolution in the Security Council that would have called on Israel to reverse its decision.

Diplomats said most governments believe that the international community has to take a stand because the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are threatening to scuttle moves toward peace.

The General Assembly was expected to adopt a resolution today calling on Israel to stop the Har Homa project.

General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, and the Israelis routinely ignore U.N. declarations on relations with the Arabs.

Earlier in the week, King Hussein of Jordan, Israel's best friend in the Arab world, wrote an unusually harsh letter to Netanyahu, underscoring Israel's growing isolation.

Israel Radio said Netanyahu, who was on his way back from Russia, would convene his Cabinet today to discuss the crisis.

Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat has invited foreign diplomats, including the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, to a conference Saturday in Gaza City to air Palestinian grievances.

Israel, which was not invited, angrily complained that the conference would violate a peace accord stipulation that disputes should be resolved in a manner agreed to by both sides.

"I'm getting fed up with the idea that everything we do is a violation of the agreement, and everything the Palestinians say is in compliance with the agreement," Netanyahu said in Moscow.

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