Saturday December  2  3:03 AM ET
U.N. Assembly Backs Palestinians, Criticizes Israel

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly called for self-determination for the Palestinian people, demanded that Israel withdraw from the Golan Heights and criticized Israeli policies on Jerusalem.

The half-dozen resolutions it approved, including four related to the question of Palestine, are debated each year by the General Assembly and endorsed by large margins.

Only the United States joined Israel on Friday in voting against four Palestinian-related resolutions and one demanding Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

As in previous years, Washington abstained on a resolution calling Israel's administration of Jerusalem ``illegal and therefore null and void.'' It said the city's final status was a key part of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinian delegate Nasser al-Kidwa said the results of the voting showed that ``only Israel voted against this resolution,'' which ``very clearly meant that the whole world is on one side and Israel is alone on the other.''

The nonbinding resolutions sent a message to Israel that its positions and practices were ``unacceptable,'' al-Kidwa said.

But Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Lancry reiterated his government's willingness to resurrect the peace process despite two months of violence in the West Bank and Gaza.

He said breakthroughs in the Middle East crisis had been reached as a result of direct negotiations between the parties involved and not through what he described as outdated resolutions that tried to determine the outcome in advance.

Most Speakers Condemn Israel

Most speakers during two days of speeches sharply condemned Israel for the violence in the West Bank and Gaza since Sept. 28 that has killed 290 people, most of them Palestinians.

The debate ended with two bitter rounds of verbal sparring between Israel and Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Iraq, not necessarily on issues related to the resolution.

Lancry accused Iran of backing Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and engaging in ``terrorist activities at Jewish and Israeli targets around the world.''

He said Iraq continued to refuse to allow U.N. arms inspectors to check its weapons of mass destruction.

In response, Iran's Ambassador Mahdi Hamzehei said Hizbollah should not be labeled as terrorists but ``freedom fighters'' and accused the ``Zionist regime'' of ``savage treatment of the Palestinians.''

Iraq's delegate, Mohammad al-Humaimidi, said the ``Zionist entity represents the most brutal occupying force in this modern age.''

But ``the executioner is talking to us like he is a victim, and this is something we are used to by the Zionist entity,'' he said. He said that Lancry was ``dreaming'' if he thought Israeli spies would return to Iraq among U.N. weapons inspectors.

Lancry shot back that the envoys of Iran and Iraq were ''struck with paralysis at hearing he very word 'Israel,''' so they referred to it as the ``Zionist entity.''

``We are, in fact, proud of being a Zionist entity. We have no problems with that word,'' he said.

He said the reputations of Iran and Iraq were well-known, especially since Baghdad's 1990 invasion and occupation of Kuwait. ``We and the international community are capable of assessing this reputation as it stands,'' he said