PLO leader Yasser Arafat on Friday accused Israel of waging a "war of extermination" and called on the United Nations to set up an international force to protect the Arab population in Israeli-occupied lands.

In a 50-minute speech that opened the special session of the 15-member U.N. Security Council, the Palestine Liberation Organization chief also urged the creation of a separate United Nations observer team charged with helping end the 23-year-old Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.Israel has said it would not accept the presence of United Nations observers in the territories, even temporarily.

Arafat, addressing the council for the first time, also urged a ban on all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and the appointment of a permanent U.N. representative to deal with the Arab-Israeli strife.

Arafat did not give any details about either of the two U.N. teams he was requesting for deployment in the occupied territories.

It was the first time the Security Council had met in Geneva. The gathering was moved from New York to avoid a showdown with the United States, which in the past has refused to give Arafat an entry visa.