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UN to Hold Open Meeting on Israeli Security Wall

The United Nations Security Council will hold a public meeting next Tuesday on Israel's building of a security fence in the occupied Palestinian territory in West Bank, US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte told reporters Friday.


The meeting was called at the request of Syria on behalf of Arab nations, Negroponte said after closed-door council consultations on the Middle East. The US envoy holds the council presidency for October.


Syrian Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad said he had asked the council to vote at the end of the open meeting on a draft resolution denouncing the Israeli security fence.


The draft, presented by Syria Thursday, would declare the security fence project as "illegal under relevant provisions of international law" and demand Israel cease and reverse it.


Accusing the Israeli government of "a de facto annexation" and "vandalization" of the Palestinian territories, Mekdad said this is "worse than the apartheid regime of South Africa was doing."


He warned that the security fence and Israel's continuing settlement activities would pose threat to the vision of having two states living side by side.


"This is a very serious development the international community should take care about, particularly the United States in its capacity as a sponsor of the peace process and a permanent member of the security council," he stressed.


The Syrian envoy said Arab nations would hold consultations with council members on the draft resolution. "We're open for reasonable amendments that will not affect the essence of the draft resolution," he added.


The draft is the second one Arab nations put before the council in a week to condemn Israel. Last Sunday, Syria submitted a draft resolution demanding council condemnation of Israel's air raid on an alleged Palestinian militant training camp inside Syria. Syria said the hit target is a civilian site.


But the draft on the attack has been shelved since an open council debate Sunday due to an expected veto by Israel's staunch ally, the United States. Mekdad said Damascus was still considering amendments proposed by council members.


Despite mounting international pressure, Israel decided on Oct.1 to proceed with the controversial security fence project, which would run deep into West Bank to encompass Jewish settlements. One day later, Israel announced a housing program to expand three settlements in West Bank.


(Xinhua News Agency October 11, 2003)

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