The United States joined today in a near unanimous General Assembly vote expressing concern at the decision to deport the mayor of Nablus on the West Bank of the Jordan River, and calling on Israel to rescind the deportation order.
There were 132 countries voting for the resolution. Only Israel voted against it, and only one other nation -- Papua-New Guinea -- abstained.
U.S. Ambassador William vanden Heuvel said that the United States had voted for the resolution because "the contemplated act of deportation is a source of tension and concern to all those involved in the Middle East peace process."
He reserved the U.S. position on the reference in the resolution to the West Bank as "occupied Palestinian territory," and suggested that sympathy should be expressed with the Israeli statement that many Israeli lives had been lost to terrorism over the years.
Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Blum denounced the Assembly decision as setting a "double standard," because not once has Palestinian terrorism against Israel been the subject of U.N. condemnation.
Blum refused to deal directly with the issues involved in the deportation proceedings against Nablus' mayor Bassam Shaka on the grounds that it is still before the Israeli court.
The Israelis also protested that theresolution had been submitted by the Arabs on short notice and was "steam-rollered" through the assembly.
In Tel Aviv, Israel moved to block Palestinian mayors from holding a one-day hunger strike in the Gaza Red Cross headquarters Saturday as a show of solidarity with Shaka.
All 23 mayors in the West Bank and four appointed mayors in the Gaza Strip have said they plan to gather at the Red Cross center.
But an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman said: "When we have suspicions that such a meeting will lead to a demonstration, then we ask them not to meet."
In Washington, sources said Secretary of State Cyrus Vance has written Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin expresing concern over the West Bank situation and urging Israeli restraint.