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The European Union countries have foiled a PLO initiative to challenge Israel's credentials at the UN, specifically Israel's right to represent the territories.

Early this week the PLO delegation to the UN distributed a draft resolution that said: "The PLO representative in the UN is the representative of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including East Jerusalem."

The resolution was meant to be voted on in the General Assembly on Wednesday, in a routine affirmation of the credentials of countries represented in the UN. But the EU was vehemently opposed to the resolution, regarding it as an attempt to undermine Israel's legitimacy.

EU representatives met with PLO Ambassador Nasser al-Kidwa, telling him that exploiting the routine votes on country credentials crossed "a red line."

UN sources said that as a result of a direct appeal to France, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin ordered the French delegation to join the rest of the EU countries to oppose the PLO legation's resolution.

When it became evident that its resolution would fail to win a majority, the PLO legation said it would not seek a vote at this stage, but rather sometime later in the current session of the UN, which means any time between now and next September.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Gillerman said that "the Palestinian failure to challenge Israel's credentials is a victory for Israeli foreign policy."

In another development, the World Jewish Congress is preparing a petition aimed at garnering one million signatures that will be passed on to the UN, demanding that the world body pass a special resolution against anti-Semitism. The petition is part of an international campaign against anti-Semitism approved by WJC leaders and activists during a meeting on Wednesday. The petition is supposed to circulate in more than 80 countries and WJC leaders are planning meetings with government leaders around the world to win their support for their campaign.

The WJC decided to adopt a resolution drafted by Ireland against anti-Semitism and next month, the organization's leaders will meet with Ireland's prime minister to inform him officially that the WJC has adopted Dublin's resolution.

WJC President Edgar Bronfman is to represent the organization at an international conference against anti-Semitism slated for Berlin in late April, 2004.