The 15 nations of the Security Council, including the United States, unanimously adopted a resolution tonight demanding that Israel rescind its annexation of the Golan Heights and declaring that action "null and void."
Under the terms of the resolution, Israeli refusal to rescind the legislation would commit the council to meet no later than Jan. 5 "to consider taking approprate measures in accordance with the charter of the United Nations."
U.S. officials confirmed, however, that Washington has no intention of imposing sanctions as sought by Syria when the council meets again.
U.S. representative Charles Lichenstein, joining in the general condemnation, said the United States "does not accept as valid" the Golan annexation measure adopted by the Israeli parliament on Monday. Washington, he said, "strongly urged Israel to void the action it has just taken."
Lichenstein warned that "Israel's unilateral act compromises and renders more difficult" any peace negotiations.
"The United States calls upon Israel to reaffirm its commitment to a negotiated settlement including the Golan Heights, he said, and does not regard the Israeli measure "as determining the status of the territory."
Israel immediately said it "cannot and does not accept the resolution just adopted," because it ignores Syria's refusal to negotiate and its threats against Israel.
Thus the resolution is "fundamentally tainted," Israeli Ambasssador Yehuda Blum told the council. He responded to the U.S. request for a commitment to negotiations, including on the Golan Heights, by saying:
"I repeat my call to Syria to start negotiations with us with a view to settling all outstanding issues including the boundary problem between us."
In negotiations before the vote, the United States won changes in the text that softened the council's commitment to consider action against Israel in January, and added a reference to "relevant Security Council resolutions."
In his statement after the vote, Lichenstein said this reference reaffirms Resolutions 242 and 338, "which comprise the basis of a just and durable peace in the region."
In fact, the affirmation fell short of the commitment to all aspects of a negotiated settlement that Washington had sought. It does not reaffirm all provisions of Resolutions 242 and 338 -- which include "secure and recognized boundaries" for "every state in the area" -- but only "that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible, in accordance with...relevant Security Council resolutions."
The council at first decided to postpone the vote on the text until Friday, at Syria's request. But it staged an abrupt turnabout and adopted the resolution after Syrian representative Dia-Allah Fattal got his final clearance from Damascus.
After the vote, Fattal told the council that "if Israel does not comply, we shall request that sanctions shall be imposed on this so-called state which accepts no law, no morality." Syria, he added, "will take all means to defends its rights."
The brief council debate, four meetings over two days, demonstrated Israel's isolation on the Golan issue, as all speakers save Blum condemned the annexation.
In the General Assembly earlier tonight, a harsher resolution was adopted by a vote of 121 to 2 (Israel and the United States), with 20 abstentions.
This text specifically asks the council to impose sanctions on Israel if it refuses to alter its Golan stand. A separate vote on the sanctions paragraph was 92-19 with 26 abstentions, as most Western nations voted no.