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Kremlin pulls its punches on Palestinian vote

The Soviet Union, apparently leery of creating precedents for forceful UN action on Afghanistan, helped water down the July 29 General Assembly resolution for Palestinian statehood.

Reports on the role played by Moscow, which has been making an increasingly public show of its support for Arab opponents of the Camp David peace accords, came from senior Arab diplomats here in touch with their home governments.

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Diplomats here said Soviet squeamishness seemed to stem from concern that moves to involve the UN more directly in Palestinian affairs might be used as a precedent for more forceful UN moves on Afghanistan. Moscow has been sensitive to wide international criticism for its late 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.

Among points reportedly considered by Arab delegates in preliminary drafting of the resolution, which was passed in its dilluted form by an overwhelming vote including Moscow, the Arabs, communist and nonaligned states, were:

* Supervision by a UN force of an early Israeli withdrawal from Arab territories occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

* A Palestine peace conference to be chaired jointly by Washington and Moscow.

* UN guarantees for the security of all Middle East countries, including Israel and a Palestinian state.

Traditional Arab bickering eliminated some tentative provisions from early drafts, Beirut diplomats said. Arab hard-liners reportedly balked at any hint of recognizing or negotiating with Israel, designed to garner support for the resolution from Washington's West European allies.

Arab moderates were said to have stricken clauses implying the disappearance of Israel.

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But key provisions that Arab delegates had hoped would give muscle to the assembly's milestone explicit endorsement of a Palestinian state, such as the convening of a conference chaired by the superpowers and the creation of a UN force, apparently fell largely under pressure from Moscow.

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