Archive for Wednesday, September 17, 2003

U.S. vetoes U.N. measure to protect Arafat

September 17, 2003


— The United States vetoed an Arab-backed U.N. resolution Tuesday demanding that Israel halt threats to expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from the West Bank, because it did not contain a condemnation of terrorist groups such as Hamas.

Eleven of the 15 Security Council nations voted in favor of the resolution, while Britain, Germany and Bulgaria abstained.

Syria, the only Arab nation on the Security Council, had been pressing for a vote since last week's decision by Israel's security Cabinet to "remove" Arafat in a manner and time to be decided. Israel blames Arafat for sabotaging the peace process and doing nothing to prevent terrorist attacks.

At a council meeting Monday, virtually all the more than 40 speakers condemned Israel's threats against Arafat.

Immediately after the vote, America's U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte reiterated that the United States didn't support the elimination or forced exile of Arafat and believed that his diplomatic isolation was the best course.

Negroponte said the United States was forced to use its veto because the resolution failed to name groups such as Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which have claimed credit for numerous suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis.

"The Palestinian Authority must take action to remove the threat of terrorist groups," Negroponte said.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham said he told council members that the latest text was unacceptable because it would not promote the peace plan known as the "road map," which is backed by the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

International criticism against Israel mounted after Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that killing Arafat was an option, although the foreign minister later backtracked on the remark.

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