UNITED NATIONS, OCT. 23 -- The United States has launched a last-ditch effort to persuade Israel to accept a U.N. fact-finding team, according to diplomats here.
The news came after four nonaligned countries agreed to a U.S. request to postpone a vote on a draft resolution that "deplores" Israel's refusal to reconsider its decision to receive a mission of the secretary general to look into a clash Oct. 8 in Jerusalem in which Israeli police killed as many as 21 Palestinians as stones were thrown at Jewish worshipers.
Yemeni Ambassador Abdallah Saleh Ashtal told reporters that the United States was "working on the Israelis to get a positive response." When asked if the United States had told him so, he said, "More or less."
Diplomats said the United States told the Security Council that high-level contacts were underway between Washington and Jerusalem in an attempt to gain permission for a fact-finding team to enter.
U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering told reporters, "The president spoke for all of us when he said contacts are continuing."
The diplomatic activity came amid hints that Israel might be persuaded to accept some kind of a U.N. fact-finding team once it completes its own investigation of the incident. It has argued that such a mission would violate its sovereignty.