U.S. fails in effort to modify draft plan on Arab-Israel issue


UNITED NATIONS -- The United States failed yesterday to persuade other members of the U.N. Security Council to modify a draft resolution that it believes President Saddam Hussein would interpret as a sign of weakness in the Persian Gulf crisis.

The resolution suggests that an international conference be convened to deal with the Arab-Israeli confrontation.

[A scheduled vote on the resolution was postponed last night until Monday, the Associated Press reported.]

The Bush administration has been trying to avoid using its veto power because of the embarrassment it would cause the United States' Arab allies in the gulf in the struggle to remove Iraq from Kuwait.

Nor does the administration want to vote in favor of the resolution, especially with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir arriving in Washington this week to meet with Mr. Bush. Israel opposes the measure.

Although the Bush administration generally agrees to such a conference, it argues that the Security Council should not formally endorse the plan now because Baghdad might interpret this as meaning Washington will trade concessions on the Middle East and Palestine for Iraq's withdrawing from Kuwait.

But four of the Council's non-aligned members want the Security Council to encourage the peace process in the Middle East by formally approving such a conference.

"The Security Council must be evenhanded," said Malaysia's representative, Ismail Razali. "It cannot go on neglecting the occupied-territories issue."

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