NEW YORK - Arab diplomats in the United Nations are leading an initiative to get the UN Security Council to halt its practice of holding open sessions. Instead, all sessions would be held behind closed doors.

A key Arab diplomat in the United Nations met a few days ago with the ambassador of one of the five permanent members of the Security Council to discuss the suggestion, which would keep sessions closed to the media as well as the general public.

Reliable UN sources said the ambassador, considered one of the most influential in New York, promised the Arab leader to consider the move and bring it up for discussion with the other members of the Security Council.

The Arab proposal was described on Tuesday as unusual and far-reaching. The Security Council is the only body in the UN whose decisions have practical significance and which has enforcement authority, including the right to use force.

The initiative to have closed sessions, which is being pursued through covert channels for the meantime, is an expression of the frustration and affront that Arab and Muslim envoys to the UN feel.

The Arabs have recently been embarrassed during recent Security Council meetings concerning the Middle East in the wake of the condemnation of extremist comments by representatives of Arab countries who participated in open Security Council meetings.

A veteran Western diplomat said on Tuesday that the Arabs in the UN want to prevent media reports on the meetings, which have recently become a source of criticism and scorn against extremist Arab positions.

In last week's Security Council meeting on the Mideast, Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman said the "assassins of Damascus and the butchers of Sudan" had no right to be preaching at Israel.