U.S. to veto UN resolution condemning Israel for Gaza Strip incursion

Shlomo Shamir

Haaretz

Tishrei 20, 5765

NEW YORK - Arab nations demanded in a draft UN Security Council resolution Monday that Israel immediately halt its incursion into the northern Gaza Strip, where fighting has left at least 65 Palestinians dead.

The draft resolution, submitted to the council in an emergency meeting
convened at the request of Arab nations on Monday, calls for an immediate halt to a major Israeli offensive in the northern Gaza Strip, and calls on Israel and the Palestinians to immediately implement the internationally backed road map peace plan.

Algeria's U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali, the only Arab member of the council, requested the open meeting following the nearly weeklong Israeli offensive - the largest of its kind launched by Israel in four years in Gaza.

"Taking into account the gravity, the urgency of the situation, the seriousness of the situation, we need to have the Security Council take a decision quickly - and quickly means Tuesday at the latest," Baali
said.

The United States indicated it would veto a resolution condemning Israel for its military operation in the Gaza Strip should such a resolution be proposed during Monday's United Nations Security Council meeting, a diplomatic source in Washington told Haaretz.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman, referring to the Security Council debate, said Monday that, "In the past, as well, the Americans have not allowed one-sided resolutions to pass. They understand that our activity is a response to Qassams, they understand that Israel has the right to self-defense."

In sharp remarks, U.S. Ambassador John Danforth said another resolution was "one more step on the road to nowhere," and admonished the council, saying it "acts as the adversary of the Israelis and cheerleader to the Palestinians."

"That is not the way to peace. That is not the road map to peace," Danforth said.

Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinians' U.N. representative, scoffed at Israel's assertion that the military operation was a justified response to the firing of two Palestinian rockets from Gaza that killed two children in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Wednesday.

Al-Kidwa told the council that Israeli reacted to an attack by a "rudimentary" rocket by sending 2,000 troops, 100 tanks, more than 100 other armored vehicles and bulldozers and helicopter gunships into the strip, focusing its sights on the Jabalya refugee camp.

"These forces deliberately destroyed just about everything in their way, including nurseries and grammar schools," Al-Kidwa said. "Now there are hundreds of Palestinians without shelter as a result of that total demolition or partial demolition of their homes, tens of thousands without water or electricity and suffering from severe shortages of food and medicine, precipitating a genuine humanitarian tragedy," he said.

"There is absolutely no justification for this Israeli hysteria, this
widespread killing...there is no justification for this state terrorism."
Al-Kidwa said.

Gillerman said the Palestinian rocket attacks had become more sophisticated and created "an insufferable situation that no country...would tolerate."

The council once again, he said, "had put the victim of terrorism in the dock and not the perpetrators." It was "again addressing the response to terrorism and not terrorism itself," he said.

Danforth lamented the cycle of violence, but rejected the Arab-backed resolution that also demands Israel halt all military operations in the area and withdraw its troops.

At least 65 Palestinians, many of them militants, have been killed during Operation Days of Penitence, which began last Tuesday.

The 22-member Arab League agreed on Sunday to ask the UN General Assembly to discuss Israel's operation in north Gaza, referring to it as "the grave Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people."

In a statement issued after an emergency meeting, Arab League representatives called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to prepare a report on the Israeli "crimes" against the Palestinian people and asked governments and relief agencies to send humanitarian aid.

Several Arab countries and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council have condemned the Israeli offensive. The GCC on Sunday called it "organized state terrorism."

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the attacks were "in violation of international laws and the Geneva agreements."

Annan urged Israel on Sunday to halt the raid, saying many Palestinian civilians had been killed. He also called on Palestinian leaders to stop the rocket attacks.

Israel's incursions "have led to the deaths of scores of Palestinians, among them many civilians, including children," Annan said in a statement.

He said he "reminds both sides to this conflict that they have a legal obligation to protect all civilians."