UN Security council unlikely to condemn Israel

The French and British governments have articulated understanding for Israel's moves.

Senior Israeli diplomatic officials expressed confidence that the United Nations Security Council would not adopt a resolution condemning Israel for Tuesday's raid on the Jericho jail and capture of former tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi's assassins. One official said "everyone from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on downward" has been in contact over the last two days with the member states of the Security Council in an effort to keep a resolution condemning Israel from being approved. The official said he did not believe that a US veto would be necessary, and that other governments, such as the French and British governments, have articulated understanding for Israel's moves. Qatar, the only Arab country currently on the Security Council, circulated a resolution that would call on Israel to return all Palestinian prisoners to Palestinian custody and withdraw its forces from Jericho. But Israeli officials said it was unlikely the Security Council would deal with the issue this week. Late Tuesday night the Security Council held an emergency meeting that called on the parties to exercise maximum restraint, take steps to restore calm and immediately release those kidnapped in recent days. Israeli officials expressed satisfaction at the statement that was issued by the Argentinean ambassador, currently the president of the Security Council. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan phoned Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Jericho. Olmert, according to his office, told Annan that Israel felt compelled to act after the US and British monitors decided to leave the jail. Diplomatic officials also expressed satisfaction that there continued to be a high degree of understanding from around the world for Israel's action, and very few condemnations. One such condemnation, however, came from the president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrel, who issued a statement that read, "We strongly condemn the attack on the prison in Jericho by Israeli forces as well as the resulting kidnappings and acts of violence in the Palestinian territories." Borrel said it was "sad and regrettably symbolic that violence is undermining our attempt to support those Palestinians in favor of a negotiated peace in the Middle East." Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas was scheduled to address the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, but rushed home because of the situation in Jericho. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev responded to Borrel by saying, "Unfortunately it appears that there are still some who have an automatic knee-jerk reaction to blame Israel." Regev said Borrel's comments were "out of sync with the overall international reaction which was characterized by understanding of the situation which forced Israel to act." The cancellation of a planned visit Tuesday by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman was also not interpreted in Jerusalem as a sign of Egyptian displeasure, rather an understanding in Cairo that with emotions running very high in the PA and the Arab world as a result of Tuesday's raid, this would be an unsuitable time for Suleiman to visit. Suleiman was originally scheduled to meet Olmert, Livni and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. No new date for the visit has yet been publicized. In a related development, a day after the international monitors left the Jericho prison because they felt their security was at risk, the Palestinian Authority "tripled" the security around the international monitors at the Rafah crossing. Julio de la Guardia Rivera, the spokesman for the EU border Assistance Mission Rafah (EU BAM), said that after closing 75 minutes early Tuesday following the IDF raid in Jericho and the subsequent wave of kidnapping of foreigners in the West Bank and Gaza, the crossing opened on time Wednesday with about the same number of people crossing as on any other day (some 1,350 people cross both ways each day). "The difference between today and previous days," de la Guardia Rivera said, "is that the PA has deployed additional security personnel, has tripled the number of police and security officers around the terminal." De la Guardia Rivera said that the decision to increase security around the terminal was the Palestinians' and was not something the EU set as a condition for re-opening the terminal. He said the EU delegation was "happy" about the decision to beef up the security, and that he expected it was an interim one. The spokesman said he assumed the increased security force would stay in place for a number of days, after which "the PA would reassess the situation" and then make its own decision about the security detail at the site. He said that the EU delegation was, in addition to its contacts with the Palestinians, also in touch with the Israeli and Egyptian authorities, and that there was good cooperation Tuesday with all sides enabling the orderly evacuation of foreigners from Gaza either into Israel or Egypt. The unarmed EU BAM contingent is made up of 65 people, 55 of them police officers, from 13 different countries.