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Palestinians Win General Assembly Approval for U.N. Resolution

Five days after the United States vetoed a Palestinian-backed Security Council resolution calling for monitoring Israeli actions, Palestinian supporters put their case to the larger General Assembly on Thursday and won overwhelming approval.

The assembly vote has no binding authority but carries the weight of international opinion.

The resolution, vetoed by the United States on Saturday, passed Thursday in the 189-nation Assembly by a vote of 124-6, with 25 abstentions.

The measure condemned "acts of terror" against Israelis and Palestinians, demanded an end to nearly 15 months of Mideast violence and asked for a "monitoring mechanism" to bring in observers, which Israel opposes.

The Assembly also passed a second resolution, demanding that Israel as an "occupying power," immediately refrain from such acts as "willful killing," torture, and extensive destruction of property.

That vote was 133-4, with 16 abstentions.

In a veiled attack on the United States, the Palestinian U.N. observer, Nasser Al-Kidwa, said the 15-member Security Council "is being used by some only when it suits them."

The United States voted against both resolutions on Thursday.

"These one-sided resolutions do nothing to further the goals" of ending the violence between the Palestinians and Israelis and to get both parties back to the peace table, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said.

"Terrorism cannot be justified by any cause," said Negroponte, who objected that the resolution made no reference to the attacks on Israel.

Israel's deputy U.N. ambassador Aaron Jacob said the resolutions "invoke misleading language and amount to an effort to provide diplomatic cover and manipulate the United Nations into providing a rubber stamp for the chronic failure to end the Palestinian terrorist campaign."

The request for the emergency Assembly session was made by Egypt on behalf of the Arab League and South Africa, which heads the Non-Aligned Movement of mainly developing countries.

Egypt's U.N. Ambassador Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Wednesday that supporters of the resolution believe "an endorsement by the General Assembly would help the Palestinians and show that international legality and world opinion is ... supporting the just needs of the Palestinian people under occupation."