DECEMBER 03, 21:20 ET

DECEMBER 03, 21:20 ET
U.N. Approves 6 Resolutions on Israel

Associated Press Writer
      AP/Lefteris Pitarakis [26K]

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Over U.S. and Israeli objections, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved six resolutions Tuesday criticizing Israeli policies and calling for new efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.

In an annual ritual, the 191-member world body ended a three-day Mideast debate with lopsided votes demanding a speedy resumption of the peace process, a final settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians, and an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

The resolutions are not legally binding - as Security Council resolutions are - but they are a reflection of world opinion. Each resolution received over 100 ``yes'' votes, with some 160 nations voting.

The key resolution called on the parties and major international players, including the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia to exert greater efforts to halt the deteriorating situation between Israel and the Palestinians, reverse all measures taken on the ground since the latest violence began in September 2000, and push for a peace agreement.

It was approved by a vote of 160-4 with three abstentions, the highest ``yes'' vote of the half-dozen resolutions. In addition to the United States and Israel, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia voted ``no.''

For the past two years, the United States abstained on a resolution objecting to Israel's administration of Jerusalem because the city's final status is subject to negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. But this year Washington voted ``no'' on the resolution, which was approved 154-5 with six abstentions.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it a few days later. The Palestinians want to set up a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian U.N. observer, said he was pleased with the results of the voting, but ``shocked'' at the U.S. ``no'' vote on the Jerusalem resolution, which he called ``a slap in the face'' to all Arabs, all Muslims, and Christian believers.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte told the General Assembly that the United States is working with the United Nations, the EU and Russia - the so-called Quartet - as well as the parties to achieve ``a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.''

``We believe a negotiated final settlement can be accomplished in three years,'' he said.

Negroponte said the United States would welcome a resolution reflecting the Quartet's ``balanced and pragmatic approach'' which includes promoting Palestinian reforms, improving the humanitarian situation for Palestinians, ending violence and terror, and restoring political dialogue that would lead to two states living side-by-side in peace and security.

But he said the resolutions prejudged key issues in a final settlement, including the question of Jerusalem, which must be resolved through negotiations between the parties.

Israel's deputy U.N. ambassador Aaron Jacob also said only a negotiated settlement could bring peace to the region.