Arabs states lobby EU support for vote on Israel


Arab states lobbied the European Union today in an effort to obtain support for their draft UN resolution demanding that Israel obey a World Court ruling that says it should tear down its West Bank barrier wall.

Palestinian and other Arab diplomats met with EU officials for a third straight day of closed-door talks on changes in the draft text demanded by the EU to win support in tomorrow's emergency session of the General Assembly.

Arab envoys painted the vote as a referendum on the force of international law while Israel and its chief ally, the United States, argued that the International Court of Justice in The Hague had ignored legitimate Israeli security concerns and was further undermining the ailing peace process.

Even without the EU, UN diplomats said the resolution would easily win a majority, but Arab states hoped to keep abstentions and "no" votes to a minimum - bolstering an expected push for sanctions being levied against Israel if it fails to observe the terms of the resolution.

Some 25 votes are at stake making the EU the focus of intense lobbying efforts. But so far, Palestinian UN observer Mr Nasser al-Kidwa is standing firm, diplomats said.

"It depends on whether we can get enough improvements," said one EU diplomat. "It is still an open question whether they [the Arab states] will be flexible enough."