UN to Vote Today on Diluted Version of Fence Resolution

NEW YORK - Intensive talks yesterday between the UN ambassadors of European Union member states and the world body's Palestinian observer, Nasser al-Kidwa, may result in a diluted version of a UN resolution on the separation fence.

The vote in the UN General Assembly on the emergency resolution, put forward by the PLO, is scheduled for this afternoon. The UN's European Union representatives are expected to meet this morning to make a final decision on how they will vote.

Yesterday, the European ambassadors placed the Dutch ambassador in charge of talks with al-Kidwa and representatives of the Arab countries. Holland is the current president of the European Union.

Diplomatic sources in New York reported yesterday that some progress had been made between the PLO and the EU representatives on a resolution acceptable to both.

Al-Kidwa is intent on obtaining European approval for the resolution, according to diplomats and commentators, and is expected to eventually back down from demands for the inclusion of several operative elements included in the original draft resolution he distributed last week, which aroused fierce European opposition.

However, the Europeans are sensitive to the issue of the prestige of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which declared in its recent nonbinding ruling that the separation fence is illegal.

The Israeli UN mission is leading a diplomatic effort to convince the ambassadors from European Union member states to abstain. The deputy head of the UN mission, Ariyeh Mekel, told Haaretz yesterday that, as Israel worked to explain its position with regard to the resolution, it will be emphasizing the paradox that, while law and order are sharply deteriorating in the Gaza Strip, the UN General Assembly is voting on a resolution in which the PLO is preaching to the international community to preserve law and order.