UNITED NATIONS, DEC. 6 -- The Security Council today delayed for a day its consideration of a new draft resolution on the Palestinian problem, as U.S. and nonaligned diplomats continued negotiations over language urging an international peace conference on the Middle East "at an appropriate time."

U.S. diplomats said the United States has not agreed to convene such a conference. The U.N. proposal "doesn't seek to convene a conference, it simply says it might be useful at the appropriate time," a U.S. official said.

The proposed resolution is a response to Israel's refusal to allow a U.N. team to investigate the Oct. 8 killing of 17 Palestinians on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The United States has been negotiating with four nonaligned countries -- Colombia, Cuba, Malaysia and Yemen -- which sponsored a more strongly worded draft that "welcomes the calls for convening" a conference. The United States is expected to veto such a draft if it is put to a vote.

The council is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. Friday, but it is unclear whether the negotiators will have cleared the way for a vote.

The section of the resolution that is generating debate states that the council "considers that convening at an appropriate time a properly structured international peace conference, with the participation of the parties concerned, would facilitate the achievement of a negotiated settlement and lasting peace in the Middle East."

While this language restates existing U.S. policy, it would, if accepted, mark the first time such a statement was included in a Security Council resolution, and it remains unclear whether the United States would accept the resolution or veto it.

Secretary of State James A. Baker III told the House Foreign Affairs Committee today, "We are not now recommending that an international conference on the Arab-Israeli conflict be held, nor are we supporting a resolution in the Security Council that would seek to convene such a conference."

In Jerusalem, correspondent Jackson Diehl reported, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials expressed concern, nevertheless, that the United States might allow passage of a Security Council resolution supporting the convening of an international peace conference.

Israel strongly opposes any international conference to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians, a position restated today by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir after a meeting in London with British Prime Minister John Major. "We will not accept it. We will not participate," Shamir declared.

In addition, Shamir's government has urged the United States to block any further Security Council action against Israel. The council already has passed two resolutions condemning Israel following the Oct. 8 slayings, and it has been considering a range of new actions, including appointment of an ombudsman to monitor Israeli treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

At the United Nations, diplomats described the United States as caught in an awkward position. It may anger Israel if it supports the proposed resolution, they said, but it may alienate Arab allies in the international coalition assembled against Iraq if it blocks the draft. Arab diplomats said that while the proposal has been watered down, it could provide an important sign that the United States may be willing to consider a peace conference.

"I believe the U.S. is moving. I just don't know how far they are willing to go," said Colombian Ambassador Enrique Penalosa. "They need to move because of the message this sends to {Iraqi President Saddam} Hussein. While there is supposedly no linkage between the two issues, they are intimately united."

Saddam has sought to link Iraq's occupation of Kuwait with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israeli officials contend that U.N. actions are having the effect of creating such a link, Diehl reported from Jerusalem. Even if conditional U.S. support for an international conference does not represent a change in policy, Israeli officials argued, its restatement now in a U.N. resolution would create the impression that Washington was tacitly making a concession to Saddam.

"Israel could be in the unfortunate position of facing pressure on the diplomatic front precisely when strategic threats on the ground are growing," said Dore Gold, an expert on U.S.-Israeli relations at the Jaffe Center of Tel Aviv University. "The international community may not be sensitive to this contradiction, and it could put the United States and Israel on a collision course."

The U.N. proposal represents a toning down of the original nonaligned draft, which called for dispatching an ombudsman to the Israeli-occupied territories and for convening the signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention to consider ways to protect Palestinians in the territories.

Rather than establishing an ombudsman, the new version would urge the secretary general to "monitor and observe the situation . . . with the help of U.N. personnel." One amendment would merely "invite" Fourth Geneva Convention signatories "to submit their views on the idea" of convening a meeting "to discuss possible measures."