UN 'settlements' vote hints US shift to Arabs

ISrael has been dealt a very serious diplomatic blow at the United Nations. The United States voted along with the 14 other members of the Security Council to severely condemn Israeli settlement policy in the occupied territories.

Last year the US had abstained on a much milder resolution, even though it was on record as considering these settlements illegal. The US Ambassador Donald McHenry, who is known to have taken up the matter directly with President Carter, said after the vote: "We regard settlements on the West Bank as illegal in international law and consider them an obstacle to the success of the current negotiations, which are aimed at a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East."

Israel is reported to have made the most vigorous representations to the American government against its supporting this resolution, which calls on the Israeli government "to dismantle existing settlements" and asks UN member states to "bar any foreign aid to Israel that can be used specifically in connection with the settlements."

Israel considers the resolution "unfair" and "onesided."

The debate in the Security Council throughout last week was particularly bitter. A fierce debate reportedly had taken place inside the Carter administration, between those who keep an eye on the election campaign and those who are concerned with the various aspects of the Middle East crisis.

The fact that in the end the US for the first time cast a vote against Israel on a matter of such gravity indicates, according to analysts here, that it is more sensitive to the plight of the Arabs.

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