Secretary of State James A. Baker III said yesterday that the United States does not have enough information to assess blame for massive bloodshed in Jerusalem's Old City, adding that initial reports of 19 Palestinians killed and more than 150 wounded mean Israel must show greater restraint in putting down disturbances.

"We really do not have all the facts," Baker told a news conference. "But it is fair to say that Israel needs to be better prepared and able to exercise restraint in handling disturbances of this nature."

"We do not see any linkage to the {Persian} Gulf crisis," Baker added, when he was asked about yesterday's Temple Mount rioting. He spoke during a joint appearance with Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney, Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and Defense Minister Robert Ray.

"Obviously this tragic loss of life is a cause for great sorrow," Baker said. He has been critical in the past of the hard-line tactics used by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's government to suppress the uprising of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Baker's hopes of prodding Shamir toward a dialogue with the Palestinians were put on hold after Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait. However, both Baker and President Bush said at the United Nations last week that the United States will seek to get the Arab-Israeli peace process moving again once the gulf crisis is resolved.

Baker was asked whether the death toll in Jerusalem could focus unwanted attention on the close U.S. relations with Israel, perhaps undermining the U.S. alliance with other Arab states working to force Iraqi President Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. Baker replied:

"We would not like to see that. We think it's very important that there not be any partial solutions to the gulf crisis. . . . We would like to see full and complete implementation of {U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding Iraqi withdrawal} and not see efforts made to divert attention from the complete fulfillment of those resolutions to something else."

At the United Nations last night, Arab delegates tried to push through the Security Council a condemnation of Israel for using deadly force on Arab rioters in Jerusalem, but the United States balked. The Arab envoys demanded that the killings be denounced as a "criminal act." A total of 13 speakers assailed Israeli authorities for allowing police to open fire.

The U.S. officials said there was some evidence that the stoning had been planned in advance by Palestinian groups seeking to fan their flagging uprising. However, the officials stressed they did not have sufficient information to judge how much of the rioting was orchestrated and whether Israeli police reacted with excessive force.

Baker refused to answer questions about related reports that Shamir had announced plans to build a new Jewish neighborhood in Arab East Jerusalem. The secretary said he had only second-hand accounts of Shamir's reported announcement Sunday that assurances Israel gave the United States last week -- about planning no further settlements in the occupied territories -- did not apply to Jerusalem.

At the United Nations last week, Baker and Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy agreed that Israel will repeat past assurances that it does not intend to settle Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union in the occupied territories. However, Israel does not consider East Jerusalem to be in those territories.