U.S. vetoes resolution on Israel
The resolution had been changed in an attempt to win its passage.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution Saturday that sought to condemn an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip and demand that Israeli troops pull out of the territory.
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the Arab-backed draft resolution 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.
The draft received 10 votes in favor and four abstentions, along with the U.S. vote against. Britain, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia all abstained.
It was the second U.S. veto this year of a Security Council draft resolution concerning Israeli military operations in Gaza. The U.S. blocked action on a document this summer after Israel launched its offensive in response to the capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas-linked Palestinian militants.
In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the resolution was "very one-sided."
"It's good that it wasn't accepted by the Security Council," he said.
Palestinian U.N. observer Riyad Mansour said he was disappointed by the vote.
"You have conveyed today two wrong messages," he told the Security Council. "For Israel, you have conveyed to them they can continue to behave above international law. For the Palestinian people, you have conveyed that justice is not being dealt with in a proper way."
Qatar's Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser said the failure of the Security Council to act on the draft will lead to continued Israeli violence against Palestinians.
"Any lukewarm reaction or response on our part gives the impression we are shirking from our humanitarian responsibilities," said Al-Nasser, who sponsored the resolution on behalf of the Palestinians.
Palestinians strengthened calls for Security Council action earlier this week after an early morning Israeli artillery barrage in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun killed 19 people Wednesday.
In an open session of the General Assembly on Thursday, Mansour called the attack "state terrorism" and said the perpetrators should be held accountable under international law for war crimes.
Israel has expressed regret for the loss of life in Beit Hanoun but has said it will continue operations to stop militants from launching rockets into Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to visit Washington on Sunday to meet with President Bush.
The draft resolution had been weakened slightly in recent days to help improve its chances of passage. A section was added demanding the Palestinian Authority take immediate action to bring an end to violence, including the firing of rockets into Israel.
It also called for the U.N. secretary-general to establish a "fact-finding mission" to probe Wednesday's attack in Beit Hanoun, a step below ordering a full investigation.
In addition, it backed off calls for U.N. observers to be placed on the Gaza-Israel border, asking instead for the "possible establishment of an international mechanism for protection of the civilian populations."
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