Disagreement is widespread on whether real changes will follow U.N. Security Council passage of what many diplomats call a watershed resolution critical of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.
The unanimous council vote Thursday marked the first time the Council moved to involve itself in an ongoing monitoring process to ensure the safety of Palestinian civilians in Israeli-occupied territories.
But no one was certain whether the resolution could accomplish its objectives of quieting the violence in the territories and paving the way for negotiations on a solution.
For the Palestinians and their allies, the final version lacked teeth and could only be viewed as a tentative first step in jolting the council into further action.
"We would have liked this text to be stronger, much stronger indeed," said Security Council President Abdalla al-Ashtal of Yemen, an original co-sponsor of the resolution.
Israel rejected it altogether as discriminatory.
For several other delegations, including France and the Soviet Union, the Security Council needed to continue finding practical ways to protect the Palestinians in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
For the United States, the resolution was a symbolic warning to Israel.
Despite the resolution's critical stance against Israel, including a denunciation of its deportation of Palestinian civilians, Washington achieved a diplomatic victory in preventing calls for a Middle East peace conference from being included in the resolution.
Instead, it was relegated to a non-binding council statement and thereby prevented Israel, which feels a large conference would be biased against it, from being in violation of a specific council demand.
But it was the first time Washington permitted reference to the parley in a Security Council context, and it was the third time this year the United States supported a resolution critical of Israel.
France's representative, Jean-Marc Rochereau de la Sabliere, said the five permanent members of the council could offer the necessary framework for "a global solution." British Ambassador David Hannay said reference to the conference was a "step forward and a major benefit."
But the timing of the resolution proved embarrassing to Washington, which went to great lengths to insert a phrase in the statement divorcing a peace conference involving Israel and the Palestinians from the Persian Gulf crisis.
U.S. officials objected to such a link because Iraqi President Saddam Hussein also has called for such a peace conference as a condition for negotiating an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.
The United States feels that the two issues have nothing to do with each other and that any such link would amount to a capitulation to Saddam and give him increased prestige in the Arab world.
The Arab-Palestinian resolution asks U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to monitor and observe the situation "on an urgent basis" and use resources already in the region.
Israel has rejected any U.N. involvement. Ambassador Yoram Aridor told the council, "We will not accommodate any discriminatory procedure or treatment."
Aridor said Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, got "special, separate and unequal treatment" from the council on a consistent basis when it tried to defend itself.
Aridor said that Israel would continue to reject calls for an international conference on the Palestinian problem in which it would surely be outnumbered.
But he said Israel remained prepared to engage in one-on-one talks with neighboring Arab nations, as it did when it signed the Camp David Accords with Egypt in 1978.
Nasser al-Kidwa, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization's U.N. observation team, said the resolution and presidential statement were "an important step in the right direction." But he added, "It's not what we wanted."
American Jewish groups denounced the U.S. vote. The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith said Washington "fell into Saddam Hussein's linkage trip." It said the resolution "still inflicts significant, undeserved damage on Israel."