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NEW YORK - The Arab lobby at the United Nations, backed by Russia, foiled a Palestinian Authority initiative to include a condemnation of Hamas' seizure of the Gaza Strip in a UN resolution against Israel.

PA observer Riad Mansour sought to include a clause "expressing concern about the takeover by illegal militias of Palestinian Authority institutions in June 2007" and calling for the reversal of this situation, but moderated the wording under Arab pressure. Russia had made it clear to the Arab delegates that it supported their opposition to a UN resolution including any condemnation of Hamas.

The clause was supposed to be included in a draft resolution against Israel, slated to be voted on this week at a Decolonization Committee meeting. But when Mansour submitted the proposed clause to the Arab representatives for approval, as usual, it met with severe criticism, and he was personally vilified.

Reliable diplomatic sources said Mansour was subjected to a barrage of insults, led by the representatives of Egypt, Syria and Libya. The Arab delegates claimed Mansour's initiative would be interpreted as an official UN condemnation of Hamas, and would gain Israel international legitimacy for cutting electricity and fuel supplies to Gaza.

Mansour agreed to softer language expressing "concern about an illegal takeover."