The United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condeming the controversial security barrier Israel is building across part of Palestinian territory in the West Bank.
Using its veto power on the UN Security Council for the second time in two months to block a measure criticising Israel, US ambassador John Negroponte spiked the resolution, which had been proposed by Syria.
"This resolution failed to address both sides of the larger security context of the Middle East, including the devastating suicide attacks that Israelis have had to endure for the past three years," he said.
"The resolution put forward today was unbalanced and did not condemn terrorism in explicit terms."
The Palestinian Authority denounced the US veto, saying it gave a "green light" to continue construction.
"The Israelis will consider this veto as a green light to continue the construction of the wall and the settlements," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.
"The Israeli behaviour, with the construction of the wall and the settlements, the incursions ... deserve condemnation and not encouragement from the United States."
For its part Israel was "satisfied" with the veto, a senior official said Wednesday.
"We are satisfied with the veto imposed by the Americans who are pursuing a coherent policy by refusing to prevent Israel from equipping itself with the necessary means to defend itself against terrorists," said the official on condition of anonymity.
"The fact that European countries such as Germany and Britain also abstained during the vote illustrates that there has been a positive change in attitude."
Ten nations on the 15-member council voted in favour of the Syrian-sponsored resolution late Tuesday while four -- Britain, Bulgaria, Cameroon and Germany -- abstained.
The five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- have veto power.
The United States last month killed another measure criticising Israel for its threats to expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from the West Bank.
© Copyright 2003 AFP