United Nations The Bush administration Saturday vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian-controlled territory and condemning acts of terror against civilians, U.S. officials said.
John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that council action would have complicated U.S. diplomatic efforts to obtain a cease-fire in the Middle East conflict. And he faulted the Arab-sponsored resolution because it failed to directly address a string of suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.
"No one is working harder than we are to end the terror, violence and suffering that has afflicted the Israeli and Palestinian people for too long," he told the council before the early-morning vote on the resolution. "Unfortunately, the resolution before us fails to address the dynamic at work in the region. Instead, its purpose is to isolate politically one of the parties to the conflict through an attempt to throw the weight of the council behind the other party."
Twelve of the council's 15 members voted in favor of the resolution, while Britain and Norway abstained. The United States cast the lone veto, blocking the Palestinians' latest attempt to enlist the Security Council in its quest to halt Israel's military activities in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Palestinian-backed resolution calls for an "immediate cessation of all acts of violence, provocation and destruction" in the Palestinian territories. It also underlined the "essential role" of the Palestinian Authority in the peace process and urged the establishment of an undefined "monitoring mechanism" to observe human rights violations in the region.
Israel has opposed previous Palestinian requests for the deployment of international monitors in the occupied territories. Israeli diplomats Saturday portrayed the Palestinian initiative as especially offensive in light of recent suicide bombings. "It does not even refer to acts of terrorism by the Palestinians," said Aaron Jacob, Israel's deputy U.N. ambassador.
Palestinian U.N. representative Nasser Kidwa said the Palestinians were forced to turn to the council after Israel severed ties with Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority because he failed to halt attacks against civilians. Kidwa faulted the Bush administration for refusing to use its influence to restrain Israel's military.
"We are the little guys," Kidwa said. "We are the people under occupation and it is our right and a duty to come to the body responsible for international peace and security, to the United Nations, to the Security Council, and try to help the situation."
It is the second time the United States has vetoed a resolution on the Middle East conflict since violence erupted in September 2000.