vetoes UN draft
killing of civilians
By Gerard Aziakou
11/11/06 UNITED NATIONS (AFP) -
The United States vetoed an
Arab-sponsored draft resolution in the UN Security Council
that would have condemned Israel's deadly attack in the Gaza
Strip, calling the text "unbalanced" and "biased."
"The draft doesn't display an even-handed characterization
of the recent events in Gaza," US Ambassador John Bolton
said, referring to what Israel said was an accidental
shelling that killed 19 Palestinian civilians, mostly women
and children, in the the Gaza town of Beit Hanun.
"We are disturbed at the language of the resolution that is
in many places biased against Israel and politically
motivated," he added. "Such language does not further the
cause of peace and its unacceptability to the United States
in previous resolutions is well known."
As one of the council's five permanent members along with
Britain, China, France and Russia, the United States has
veto power which it has now used 82 times, often to shield
Israel from censure.
Its previous use of the veto was in July to block a
Qatari-sponsored draft resolution that would have condemned
Israel's military onslaught in Gaza as "disproportionate
force" and would have demanded a halt to Israeli operations
in the territory.
Ten of the council's 15 members voted in favor the amended
text, introduced by Qatar on behalf of Arab member states,
and four -- Britain, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia --
Israel immediately hailed the US veto as "very satisfactory"
while the Palestinians said it would encourage further
Israeli attacks on civilians.
"The American veto is very satisfactory. The draft
resolution did not stipulate that what happened at Beit
Hanun was a tragic error," Israeli government spokesman Avi
But Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian president
Mahmud Abbas swiftly condemned the veto, saying: "We feel it
will encourage Israel to continue its escalation against the
Explaining her decision to abstain, Britain's deputy UN
Ambassador Karen Pierce said: "We were not able to conclude
that the draft resolution was sufficiently balanced nor
reflected the complexity of the current situation."
But France's UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere
"I think the text was a balanced one and (its) adoption
would have sent the right signal to both parties that the
Security Council is really concerned about what is happening
in Gaza, really concerned about the deaths of civilians and
the protection of civilians," the French envoy said.
Palestinian UN observer Ryad Mansour also voiced
disappointment and accused the council of "shirking its
"Palestine is disappointed again," he said and warned that
the US veto would push extremists on both sides of the
Israeli-Palestinian divide "to take matters into their own
The council vote had been delayed by 24 hours as the
sponsors continued efforts to try to make the text more
palatable to Western countries.
Diplomats said Arab countries would now most likely take
their case to the 192-member General Assembly, where their
draft would get a more sympathetic hearing.
Mansour said Arab foreign ministers, due to hold a special
meeting in Cairo Sunday on the Gaza violence, would decide
whether to turn to the General Assembly for support.
The Qatari draft would have condemned Israel's military
operations in Gaza, particularly the Beit Hanun incident,
along with "the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel."
It would have called on Israel "to immediately cease its
military operations that endanger the Palestinian civilian
population in the Occupied Palestinian territory, including
East Jerusalem, and to immediately withdraw its forces from
within the Gaza Strip to positions prior to June 28, 2006."
It would have urged the international community, including
the diplomatic Quartet -- the United States, Russia, the
United Nations and the European Union -- "to stabilize the
situation and restart the peace process, including through
the possible establishment of an international mechanism for
protection of the civilian populations."
It also would have directed the UN secretary general to set
up a fact-finding mission on the Beit Hanun attack within 30
Bolton bemoaned the fact that the Qatari draft made "not a
single reference to terrorism" and did not condemn Hamas's
"statement that Palestinians should resume terror attacks on
Israel on a broad scale, or calls by the military wing of
Hamas to Muslims worldwide to strike American targets and
Wednesday's Israeli strike in Gaza has received worldwide
condemnation and led to calls for an immediate halt by the
Jewish state of its Gaza offensive, which has left more than
300 Palestinians dead since late June when an Israeli
soldier was seized by Palestinian militants.
Copyright © 2006 Agence France Presse.