U.S. Vetoes U.N.´s Israel Condemnation (AP) By Kim Gamel UNITED NATIONS 12/21/02 8:16 AM)
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UNITED NATIONS –– The United States vetoed an Arab-backed resolution
that would have condemned Israel for the recent killings of three
U.N. workers, saying it was "inappropriate" to single out the
Twelve other council members – including close U.S. ally Britain –
voted in favor of the resolution Friday. Bulgaria and Cameroon
The resolution expressed "grave concern" at the killings by Israeli
troops and demanded that Israel "refrain from the excessive and
disproportionate use of force in the Occupied Palestinian
territories." It also demanded that Israel comply fully with its
obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which deals with the
protection of civilians during war.
But the veto by the United States – one of five permanent council
members with such power – means that the resolution was not adopted.
The last U.S. veto, in December 2001, also was cast against a Mideast
resolution and critics accused the Americans of being biased toward
"The proponents of this resolution appear more intent on condemning
Israeli occupation than on ensuring the safety of United Nations
personnel," U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said before the vote.
"Mixing these two issues is inappropriate and weakens the Council´s
voice on the need for both parties to take steps to avoid actions
that endanger innocent civilians and United Nations staff," he added.
Syria´s U.N. Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe, the only Arab member of the
council, rejected U.S. attempts to amend the resolution to eliminate
the reference to Israel´s disproportionate use of force. The United
States would also have dropped the demand for Israel to comply with
the Fourth Geneva Convention.
"We ... do not believe that it is in any way permissible to give
Israel the right to kill United Nations personnel without
accountability or sanction," Wehbe said.
"If the Security Council is unable to put an end to such Israeli
practices because of the protection given by one permanent member
state to Israel, that will open the door wide to flouting
international humanitarian law," he said.
Negroponte, who called the Syrian draft "one-sided," said the United
States reserves the right to resubmit its draft next week.
The U.S. veto came hours after top U.S., U.N., European Union and
Russian officials met in Washington to work on a roadmap to Israeli-
Palestinian peace that envisions two states living in harmony.
"Adoption of this resolution does not contribute to an environment
where both sides would be ready to move forward in implementing the
practical steps in the roadmap," Negroponte said.
In Washington, a statement issued after the peace plan meeting
deplored the killing of innocent Palestinians and U.N. workers in
Israeli security operations. It said Israel should change its rules
for countering terror to avoid civilian casualties and withdraw
troops from populated Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza.
Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian U.N. envoy, also accused the United
States of protecting Israel from Security Council condemnation.
Israel´s deputy U.N. ambassador Aaron Jacob expressed regret for the
deaths, and accepted that attention must be paid to Israel´s action.
But he said "we cannot help but be distressed with what seems to be a
singular attempt to focus on Israel."
Israeli soldiers shot and killed Briton Iain Hook on Nov. 22 during a
gunbattle with armed Palestinians in the West Bank. The army said its
soldiers mistook Hook´s cell phone for a weapon after gunmen entered
the U.N. compound. The U.N. relief agency denies that gunmen had
entered the compound.
Two Palestinian school employees working for a U.N. relief agency
were among 10 Palestinians killed in Gaza on Dec. 6.
The Syrian resolution also would have expressed "deep concern" at
Israel´s destruction of a U.N. World Food Program warehouse in Beit
Lahiya, in the Gaza Strip, on Nov. 30.
(© 2002 The Associated Press 12/21/02)
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