The United States vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning Israel for its incursion into the Gaza Strip, calling the resolution "lopsided and unbalanced" because it failed to mention Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians that triggered the action.
The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Pakistan and Algeria, obtained 11 votes in favor Tuesday. Britain, Germany and Romania abstained, citing concern that the text did not fault Palestinian attacks. But the U.S. veto, the seventh cast by the Bush administration on a resolution that condemned Israeli actions, blocked its adoption.
John C. Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the resolution would undermine efforts to restore peace in the Middle East. "The resolution today encourages the terrorists; it will not do anything to prevent a predictable response," he said.
The Palestinian representative, Nasser Kidwa, said after the vote that "this is another sad day for the Security Council" for not calling for "cessation of the bloodshed of the Palestinian people in northern Gaza." He said he is considering calling for an emergency session of the U.N. General Assembly to press for Israel's condemnation.
Israeli forces launched an offensive in northern Gaza late last month to stop Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. Five Israelis were killed in Palestinian mortar and rocket attacks in the past three months. On Sept. 28, Palestinians killed two children and wounded 10. Since then, Israeli forces have killed 82 Palestinians, the United Nations said.
The failed resolution condemned Israel's "military incursion" into northern Gaza, citing "extensive human casualties and destruction." It also demanded "the immediate cessation of all military operations in the area of northern Gaza and the withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from that area."
The latest Middle East dispute came on a day that the United Nations continued to address a worsening crisis in Darfur, Sudan. A government-backed Arab militia has killed tens of thousands of black Africans and driven more than 1 million from their homes.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan told the Security Council in a report that Sudan has not demonstrated its capacity to protect black African villagers from violence. He pressed for the deployment of African peacekeepers in Darfur in the coming weeks.
The report said a security breakdown has spread in Darfur as fighting between government troops and rebel fighters increased over the past month. Annan cited several attacks by government troops and allied militia members against civilians, including an attack by uniformed men and militia that killed about 100 people near Greda, South Darfur, and drove the survivors from their homes. The region's rebel Sudanese Liberation Army, meanwhile, carried out attacks against police installations.