ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT TO GET PRIORITY ON UN AGENDA

The Arab-Israeli conflict is now high on the United Nations agenda for action. ``I think everybody, including the Israelis, realize that you can't have stability in the whole area if something isn't done,'' says a senior UN official.

The UN secretary general is expected soon to appoint a special representative for the Middle East to make contacts with states in the area and promote agreement under the auspices of Security Council Resolution 242.

Though the official announcement is not expected until later this month, Edouard Brunner, Switzerland's ambassador to the United States since 1989, is widely reported to be the new appointee. Mr. Brunner, who would succeed Gunnar Jarring of Sweden in the post, is expected to be given wide latitude in recommending any framework by which peace could be reached.

``Any formula which can help solve the problem will be a good one,'' says the senior UN official. ``We shouldn't make something procedural an obstacle.''

Asked if anything could be done to reverse Israel's longtime objections to UN involvement, the UN official says he thinks those Israelis who believe the UN is anti-Israel are ``totally wrong.''

``It's a very regrettable mistake,'' he says.

Israel in his view should realize that it will be ``protected'' rather than ``hurt'' by the UN's involvement. ``The rights of both Israelis and Palestinians need to be protected, he says.

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