By Justin Bergman
Sunday, November 12, 2006
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 11 -- The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution Saturday that condemned an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip and demanded that Israeli troops pull out of the territory.
U.S. Ambassador John R. 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.
It was the second U.S. veto this year of a Security Council draft resolution concerning Israeli military operations in Gaza. The other came this summer after an Israeli soldier was captured by Hamas-linked Palestinian militants and Israel responded by launching an offensive.
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."
Qatari ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, who sponsored the resolution on behalf of the Palestinians, said the failure of the Security Council to act 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," Nasser said.
Palestinians strengthened calls for Security Council action after Israeli artillery shelled the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, killing 20 civilians Wednesday.
Israel 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.