Hamas: U.S. veto of UN draft resolution backs further massacres

Shlomo Shamir

Haaretz

Cheshvan 21, 5766

The Hamas-led Palestinian government said on Saturday that the United States' veto of a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Israel Defense Forces shelling in Beit Hanun that killed 20 Palestinians on Wednesday showed the U.S. backed Israel's action.

Ghazi Hamad, the Palestinian cabinet spokesman, said the veto was "a signal that the U.S. had given legitimacy to the massacres and a green light to (Israel) to ... carry out more massacres."

The Arab League likewise strongly criticized the U.S. for vetoing the resolution.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa voiced his "surprise and disappointment" at the United States for vetoing the draft resolution.

"This veto will only increase the anger," Moussa said in a statement issued by his office in Cairo.

"It is inexplicable that a veto can be used to protect Israeli actions against civilians," he said.

10 of the council's 15 members voted for the measure, while Britain, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia abstained.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said the draft resolution, which also called for a quick withdrawal of IDF troops from the Gaza Strip, was "biased against Israel and politically motivated."

"This resolution does not display an evenhanded characterization of the recent events in Gaza, nor does it advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace to which we aspire and for which we are working assiduously," he told the Security Council.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the draft resolution would have aggravated the situation in Gaza because it contained "inflammatory and unnecessary language."

"We do not believe the resolution was designed to contribute to the cause of peace," she said in a statement.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the draft resolution was one-sided. "It's good that it wasn't accepted by the Security Council," he said.

The resolution, proposed by Qatar, originally called for an "immediate investigation into the massacre that took place in Beit Hanun" and for Israel to "cease all violence against the civilian population in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem."

The draft also demanded the deployment of UN observers in the area to oversee the implementation of the cease-fire outlined in the draft.

The Qatari delegation re-worded the proposal following objections raised to the first draft.

In the new version, the statement no longer called the shelling a "massacre," nor demanded the deployment of UN observers.

In place of observers, the new resolution called for an "international mechanism" to be deployed in Gaza to protect the civilian population.

Instead of demanding the formation of a panel of inquiry, the new proposal called for the formation of a fact-finding team.

The new resolution also included a demand that Israel withdraw its soldiers from the Gaza Strip, and a condemnation of Qassam rockets fired into Israel. Still, it did not demand the release of soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped in June, Army Radio reported.

The resolution also urged the international community to work to end the political stalemate between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In spite of the resolution's altered wording, Israel maintained that the resolution was one-sided and excessive.

The resolution would have called on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to send a panel of inquiry to Gaza to examine the circumstances of the shelling.