[R-G] U.S. vetos UN resolution on Gaza offensive

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at resist.ca
Sun Nov 12 05:06:38 MST 2006

In case the election broke any of our grips on reality...


U.S. vetos UN resolution on Gaza offensive

Associated Press

United Nations — The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft 
resolution Saturday that sought to condemn an Israeli military offensive 
in the Gaza Strip and demand Israeli troops pull out of the territory.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the Arab-backed draft resolution was 
"biased against Israel and politically motivated."

"This resolution does not display an evenhanded characterization of the 
recent events in Gaza, nor does it advance the cause of 
Israeli-Palestinian peace to which we aspire and for which we are 
working assiduously," he told the Security Council.

"This decision by the U.S. government gives unlimited cover to commit 
more massacres of innocent Palestinians," said Ghazi Hamad, spokesman 
for the Hamas-led Palestinian government. "This is a shame on the 
American administration, which says it is trying to promote human rights 
and democracy in the Middle East."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, however, the draft 
resolution would have aggravated the situation in Gaza because it 
contained "inflammatory and unnecessary language."

"We do not believe the resolution was designed to contribute to the 
cause of peace," she said in a statement.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev agreed the 
draft was one-sided. "It's good that it wasn't accepted by the Security 
Council," he said.

The draft received 10 votes in favour and four abstentions, along with 
the U.S. vote against. Britain, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia all 
abstained. The U.S. is one of five permanent members of the council that 
have the power to veto resolutions.

It was the second U.S. veto this year of a Security Council draft 
resolution concerning Israeli military operations in Gaza. The U.S. 
blocked action on a document this summer after Israel launched its 
offensive in response to the capture of an Israeli soldier by 
Hamas-linked Palestinian militants.

Palestinians strengthened calls for Security Council action after an 
early morning Israeli artillery barrage in the northern Gaza town of 
Beit Hanoun killed 19 people Wednesday.

In an open session of the General Assembly on Thursday, Palestinian U.N. 
observer Riyad Mansour called the attack "state terrorism" and said the 
perpetrators should be held accountable under international law for war 

Israel has expressed regret for the loss of life in Beit Hanoun but said 
it will continue operations to stop militants from launching rockets 
into Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to visit Washington 
on Sunday to meet with President Bush.

Qatar's U.N. Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser warned in the Security Council 
meeting that the failure of the body to act on the draft would lead to 
more Israeli violence against Palestinians.

"Any lukewarm reaction or response on our part gives the impression we 
are shirking from our humanitarian responsibilities," said Al-Nasser, 
who sponsored the resolution on behalf of the Palestinians. Qatar is the 
only Arab nation on the council.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the veto "will only 
increase the anger" toward Israel, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed 
Aboul Gheit accused the Security Council of "turning a blind eye to 
Israeli acts in Gaza."

The Arab League was planning to hold an emergency meeting of foreign 
ministers in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday to decide how to respond the latest 
Israeli offensive.

The draft resolution had been weakened slightly in recent days to help 
improve its chances of passage. A section was added demanding the 
Palestinian Authority take immediate action to bring an end to violence, 
including the firing of rockets into Israel.

It also called for the U.N. secretary-general to establish a 
"fact-finding mission" to probe Wednesday's attack in Beit Hanoun, a 
step below ordering a full investigation.

In addition, it backed off calls for U.N. observers to be placed on the 
Gaza-Israel border, asking instead for the "possible establishment of an 
international mechanism for protection of the civilian populations."

In his remarks to the Security Council, Mr. Bolton said the draft was 
still too one-sided. He said it compared legal Israeli military 
operations with the firing of rockets into Israel — an act of terrorism. 
He called the fact-finding mission unnecessary and said the text failed 
to condemn the ruling Hamas party's refusal to renounce terrorism.

Both Mr. Bolton and Deputy British Ambassador Karen Pierce voiced 
support for returning to the internationally backed "road map" peace 
plan, which has been stalled for years.

But Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, said 
the fact that the council allowed the draft to go to a vote showed the 
world's frustration with the U.S. not involving other members of the 
so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators in recent decisions on Israel. 
The other members are the U.N., the European Union and Russia.

"They don't have a stake in the talks and they are more willing now to 
force our hand," he said. "A lot of times the world has felt (the U.S.) 
has been too pro-Israel, but in this case, people are just fed up."

Macdonald Stainsby
In the contradiction lies the hope
    --Bertholt Brecht.

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