Palestinians, others return to Israel-bashing at U.N.

They called on the Israeli government to rescind the decision to build Jewish housing at Har Homa, referring to it by its Arabic name, Jamal Abu Ghenaim.

Several also used the opportunity to criticize Israel's decision to further redeploy from 9 percent of the West Bank as insufficient and a sign of bad faith.

The debate by the 185-member assembly followed the U.S. veto last week of a Security Council resolution critical of the Israeli initiative in eastern Jerusalem.

Speakers made it clear they believed that the United States had flouted international will, forcing them to take up the matter.

The session was expected to last through Thursday and was likely to culminate in a non-binding resolution condemning the Israeli action.

The permanent Palestinian observer to the United Nations, Nasser al-Kidwa, opened the debate by terming the construction a "colonial settlement" that will isolate Jerusalem from Bethlehem and the rest of the West Bank.

He asked the body to call on Israel to refrain from taking such "illegal measures."

David Peleg, Israel's acting permanent representative to the United Nations, responded by repeating Israel's position that the United Nations is not "the appropriate forum for discussing issues of contention between Israel and the Palestinians."

He said he regretted that the Palestinians had "fallen into a dysfunctional behavior pattern" by seeking redress for their grievances with third parties.

Peleg asked the international community to support the peace process.

"But do not adopt one-sided positions that aim to prejudge and predetermine the outcome of our negotiations," he said.

After his formal remarks, he said in an interview that such international debate encourages Palestinians to take "more extreme negotiating positions."

The U.N. debate angered American Jewish leaders.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said the United Nations was a "platform for one-sided criticism of Israel."

He said the Har Homa construction was only "an excuse to mobilize international pressure on Israel and force concessions."