Arabs slam UN anti-terror plan

The United Nations general assembly has pressed ahead with a new attempt to define and combat international terrorism amid angry exchanges between Arab and Israeli envoys in New York.

    Annan: Agreement is an historic achievement

    Israeli and Arab diplomats feuded bitterly over the counter-terrorism "plan of action" after it was approved by the 192-nation assembly without a formal vote on Friday.


    Nine Arab nations took the floor after the plan's adoption to complain that it did not mention Israeli military actions in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.


    Nor did it guarentee that armed Palestinian groups that target Israeli civilians would not being tagged as terrorists for pursuing "national liberation movements," the Arab envoys said.


    That prompted Israeli criticism of Iran and Syria for failing to prevent attacks against the Jewish state.


    Meanwhile, in a clear reference to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari said the strategy, which is nonbinding, "does not prejudice the right of people for self-determination and the struggle for independence."


    Critics of the plan say that it is unlikely to succeed unless UN members can agree on a definition of terrorism.


    International goals


    The plan laid out eight pages of broad goals and measures to prevent terrorist acts, address the conditions that may foster terrorism and help nations build up their capabilities while respecting human rights.


    Much of the strategy, worked out over the previous year, repeats previous commitments.


    It also contains pledges to promote the rule of law and “a culture of peace”, to helo countries meet their millennium development goals and to encouraging dialogue between people of different faiths.


    Under international law resolutions passed by the UN general assembly are not binding. However they are significant barometers of international opinion.


    Annan optimistic


    Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, hailed the agreement as an historic achievement and urged nations to honor the victims of terrorism everywhere by taking swift action to implement all aspects of the strategy.


    “I think it is the first time that 192 countries have come together and taken a stand on the issue of terrorism, and now the test will be how we implement it."


    According to the strategy, nations would be encouraged to give money to UN counterterrorism assistance projects.


    Border controls would be stepped up to prevent terrorists from crossing state lines or smuggling arms such as nuclear weapons.


    Nations would have to do more to exchange information that could be used to fight terrorism and to take appropriate measures to make sure that people seeking asylum have not committed terrorist acts or will not use their new status to do so.


    The plan also urges nations to crack down on terrorists' use of the Internet, adopt laws prohibiting incitement to commit a terrorist act, and grant asylum only after checking whether applicants have engaged in terrorist acts.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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