UN disunity on raid may let Israel off the hook

Despite widespread protest here at Israel's raid on Iraq's experimental nuclear center, the UN Security Council is unlikely to pass even a moderate resolution condemning the Israeli action.

According to observers here, hopes for such a resolution are expected to be dashed mainly because of:

* The Reagan administration's strong backing for Israel.

* The determination on the part of some Arab hard-liners to provoke a US veto and lay Israel's misdeeds at the door- step of the United States.

"Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and members of the ARab Rejecton Front are playing into each other's hands," says one Arab ambassador known for his prudence.

An Iraqi working paper that has been circulating among Security Council members is moderate in form but tough in substance. It does not explicity invoke sanctions as called for under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, but uses its language to press for "military, economic, and technical" sanctions against Israel. In its present form it appears to be unacceptable to France and Britain as well as to the US.

Meanwhile other diplomatic efforts are under way to achieve a solution. This would essentially mean that Iraq would present two resolutions simultaneously and thus satisfy both its moderate and its tough friends among the nonaligned nations.

One would simply condemn Israel and presumably would be adopted by consensus. The other, a harsher one calling for an embargo against Israel, would be met with a US veto.

This two-tiered approach would allow the US to disassociate itself from Israel's attack against Iraq while signaling its lasting commitment to Israel. It would give Iraq the moral support it expects in this instance from the world community and at the same time expose the US as Israel's best friend, thus allowing Iraq to score a double propaganda victory

US Ambassador Kirkpatrick is, however, reported to be firmly opposed to this two-track approach. One highly placed analyst says, "Her strategy seems to be 100 percent pro-Israeli in the sense that by blocking a middle-of-the-way solution she is really leading the Council toward a confrontation. Not only will she fell more comfortable in rejecting one single and tough Arab resolution , but she could then describe the Council as being biased."

Negotiations are likely to continue for several days.

Many here feel that the Security Council finds itself at a moral and political authority will it have left?" said one Latin American diplomat, echoing many of his colle agues.

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