UNITED NATIONS, NOV. 27 -- The U.S. bid for U.N. approval of a resolution that would allow use of military force against Iraq ran into a stumbling block here as the Palestine Liberation Organization tried to force the Security Council to vote first on a resolution to protect Palestinian rights.

The prosposed resolution, aimed at increasing pressure on Iraq to pull its troops out of Kuwait, drew strong new support from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, but China's foreign minister said Beijing will not vote for it.

Security Council members, hoping to avoid a distracting fight just as they neared completion of the resolution, put off further consideration of the PLO move until Wednesday. But U.S. officials estimated tonight that they have only slightly better than an even chance of staving off further divisive wrangling about the Palestinian issue.

The resolution sought by the PLO calls for convening an international meeting in Geneva to discuss ways to protect Palestinians under Israeli occupation. It would inject a U.N. presence into the West Bank and Gaza Strip by appointing a commissioner to monitor the situation of Palestinian residents.

If the PLO and its supporters are able to force a vote on the resolution before Thursday, the repercussions could undercut the big symbolic show planned by the Bush administration that day to put pressure on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The U.S. plan is for foreign ministers of the 15-nation Security Council, presided over by Secretary of State James A. Baker III, to adopt a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq if it does not take steps by Jan. 15 to end its occupation of Kuwait.

In Moscow, President Mikhail Gorbachev's spokesman said the Soviet Union would vote for a resolution that includes a clear-cut deadline for an Iraqi withdrawal. Gorbachev, speaking in the Russian legislature, used his toughest language as he reported on talks he held Monday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz.

Gorbachev said he told Aziz the Soviet Union would not alter its view that Iraq's Aug. 2 seizure and later annexation of Kuwait was unacceptable, Reuter reported.

"All of a sudden a state barely out of a war, a neighboring state, an Arab power, just grabs, annexes its neighbor. What kind of policy is this?" Gorbachev said. "In this way, we cannot only blow up the situation there but the entire new world order can explode."

"Yesterday I told them again: 'You keep this in mind: We will not retreat here. This is a matter of principle for us,' " he said. Gorbachev said he told Aziz that the U.N. resolution authorizing force was prepared and ready for approval.

The Iraqis, he said, appeared to be ignoring the seriousness of the coming Security Council vote and instead were still seeking to provoke a quarrel within the alliance opposing them, Reuter reported.

Diplomatic sources here said agreement on the resolution, including the Jan. 15 deadline, is virtually wrapped up, and they predicted it will win at least 10 and possibly as many as 13 votes.

But Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen said in Beijing that his nation will not vote for a resolution allowing force, the Associated Press reported. He refused to say whether China will veto it or abstain.

Qian said before leaving for the United States that reports in the United States that China will support the force resolution have "no basis." Baker and other State Department official have expressed confidence in recent weeks that China, a permanent member of the Security Council, would not veto a resolution on force, and might vote for it.

The message Washington hopes to impress on Saddam would lose much of its force if the Palestinian resolution is voted on first or if some council member -- possibly Cuba -- tries to bring it up during the foreign ministers' meeting. Adoption of the Palestinian resolution would provoke an uproar of protest from Israel and its American supporters and help Iraq's efforts to link the Persian Gulf crisis and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

If the United States vetoes the resolution as one-sided and unfair to Israel, it faces the danger of a sharply hostile Arab reaction that could imperil the fragile coalition of Arab countries allied with Washington against Iraq.

The resolution, introduced on behalf of the PLO two weeks ago by Cuba, Yemen, Malaysia and Colombia, was prompted by the killing of 17 Palestinians by Israeli police during a riot in Jerusalem Oct. 8.

Until now, U.S. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, as this month's chairman of the Security Council, has managed to delay a vote on the Palestinian resolution through procedural devices.

The United States wants the resolution authorizing force against Iraq to be dealt with first and would prefer to push the contentious Palestinian issue into December, when Yemen assumes the Security Council chair.

However, Pickering's delaying measures were challenged by Cuban Ambassador Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada at a council meeting called today to hear Kuwaiti witnesses testify about atrocities committed by Iraq following its invasion. Alarcon argued that since the Palestinian rights resolution has been pending longer than the military force resolution, U.N. rules dictate that it must be voted on first.

Pickering responded by calling informal consultations. The consultations were continued until Wednesday after several members said they were not ready to vote.

Nasser Kidwa, acting head of the PLO's U.N. observer delegation, said the PLO would urge sympathetic council members to demand a vote on the resolution when consultations resume Wednesday. It was unclear tonight whether the United States will find enough support within the council to postpone action on the Palestinian resolution until after the foreign ministers meet on Thursday.

Today's council meeting, called at the request of the exiled Kuwaiti government, was an attempt to set the stage for Thursday's vote by focusing world attention on how Iraq has behaved since seizing its smaller neighbor.

For more than two hours, a parade of refugees from Kuwait told of killings, torture, rape and systematic looting committed by Iraqi troops.

Many of the accounts by the witnesses had been given previously in interviews with news media and in informal testimony to members of the U.S. Congress.

Similar atrocities were recounted by a 23-year-old Kuwaiti student who recently left Kuwait, Washington Post correspondent Caryle Murphy reported from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

The student, who also holds U.S. citizenship, told of brutal "executions" of Kuwaitis by Iraqi occupation forces, rapes and theft. He said that the Kuwaiti resistance has tapered off because of Iraqi retaliation, including killings and burning of homes.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington that Baker, who is to chair the Security Council on Thursday, has offered to meet with foreign ministers of the other council members in New York this week.

In addition to the group meeting, Baker is expected to meet separately with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and perhaps others.

Boucher said he could not say whether Baker would meet separately with Cuban Foreign Minister Isadoro Malmierca, who has been invited to the group meeting. The United States and Cuba do not have diplomatic relations.

Murphy also reported from Dhahran:

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia has again rejected negotiating with Iraq before it relinquishes Kuwait, and he urged Saddam to pull out in order to prevent "a tragedy in Iraq."

"Iraq must pull out of Kuwait without condition or reservation, and the Kuwaiti people must return under the leadership of the Kuwaiti government, headed by His Highness Emir Jabir {Ahmed Sabah}, as they were before," Fahd said. He made his comments in a speech to guests at his Al Salaam Palace in Jiddah Monday night and they were broadcast Monday and Tuesday nights on Saudi television.

"We will never abandon this position," he said. "Negotiations are categorically rejected. Negotiations on what? On an occupied country, so that we can reward {the invader}? I don't think that is possible, and I don't think anyone would accept such a thing in any way. No one can predict the future or what will happen."

"I still call from this place, as I have called before, on Saddam Hussein to allow reason to prevail," Fahd said.

"It would not be strange if he were to announce tomorrow that he was pulling out of all Kuwait, with no conditions. . . . I don't believe there would be any disgrace for him in that -- quite the contrary.

"But will he respond? The answer is with him, not with me."