UNITED NATIONS - The United States on Saturday
used its veto power to kill a U.N. resolution that demanded an
immediate halt to Middle East violence and said the Palestinian
Authority was essential to any peace process.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the Security Council
resolution, sponsored by Arab states, was aimed at isolating
Israel politically and did not mention recent suicide bombings
against Israelis or those responsible for them.
The vote in the 15-member council was 12 to 1 with 2
abstentions, Britain and Norway. The other two Europeans on the
council, France and Ireland were among the ``yes'' votes
following two dozen speeches that spilled into the
The U.S. veto was the second this year on a
Palestinian-backed resolution. In March, Washington killed a
tougher measure that called for an international observer
force, which Israel opposes.
Saturday's resolution, sponsored by Egypt and Tunisia and
amended by France, encouraged ``all concerned to establish a
monitoring mechanism'' to help ease conditions in the West Bank
and Gaza. It condemned all terrorist acts, executions without
trial, excessive use of force and the destruction of property.
But Negroponte said it was fundamentally flawed because it
did not even mention ``recent acts of terrorism'' against
Israelis or those responsible for them. On Dec. 1, Palestinian
suicide attacks killed 26 in Jerusalem and Haifa.
At least 776 Palestinians and 233 Israelis have been killed
since Israeli-Palestinian clashes flared anew in September of
last year after U.S. mediated peace efforts collapsed.
The resolution sought to bolster Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat days after Israel severed ties with him and branded him
''irrelevant'' in response to the spate of attacks on Israelis
this month. It said the Palestinian Authority remained ``the
indispensable and legitimate party for peace.''
The break with Arafat on Thursday, a day after Palestinian
militants ambushed a bus in the West Bank and killed 10
Israelis, further evaporating hopes for a negotiated end to the
bloodshed. On Friday, the Israeli army killed eight
Palestinian U.N. representative Nasser al-Kidwa said
cutting off Arafat threatened to plunge the region into war.
``This decision means the abandonment of the negotiation
process,'' al-Kidwa said, adding he feared Israel wanted to roll
back on autonomy and security agreements made during the Oslo
negotiation process that began in 1993.
Addressing the United States, he asked ``whether this
council is being used by some only when it's useful to them.''
A number of speakers admonished Israel for using excessive
force against Palestinians.
But Israel said it believed the conflict was not about
occupation but about the Jewish state's right to exist.
Israeli delegate Aaron Jacob said there was an
''ever-diminishing window of opportunity'' to salvage peace
negotiations if Palestinians entered direct bilateral talks
with Israel and crushed militant groups like Hamas.
``The terrorism that has afflicted Israeli civilians is part
and parcel of the fundamentalist terrorism that is now the
focus of a comprehensive international campaign aimed at its
eradication,'' Jacob said.
Britain said it abstained because the text did not reflect
the realities on ground, did not specify a next step for a
resumption of meaningful negotiations nor define responsibility
which both sides must accept to end violence.
``We urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to pull back
from the brink and work together to end violence,'' British
Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock said. ``It serves no one's
interest to undermine President Arafat or to weaken the
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