Global Policy Forum

US Vetoes UN Demand that Israel Leave Gaza


By Irwin Arieff

July 14, 2006

The United States on Thursday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution put forward by Qatar on behalf of Arab states that called on Israel to immediately end its two-week military incursion in Gaza. Ten of the council's 15 member-nations voted in favor of the resolution, while the United States cast the sole "no" vote. Four countries abstained -- Britain, Denmark, Peru and Slovakia.

Washington, while concerned about deteriorating conditions in Gaza, killed the text because it was "not only untimely, but already outmoded" due to the rapidly changing situation on the ground, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said. It also was biased against Israel despite repeated attempts at revision and could have undermined peace efforts, he said.

A resolution requires at least nine votes and no veto for approval. Only permanent council members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - have veto power. The veto was Bolton's first since he arrived at U.N. headquarters as Washington's top envoy nearly a year ago. It was the first U.S. veto since October 2004 when former Ambassador John Danforth opposed a resolution calling on Israel to end an earlier incursion into Gaza.

About 30 of the 81 U.S. vetoes cast over nearly 61 years of U.N. history have been linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel and the United States, its closest ally, had lobbied hard to defeat the Gaza measure in hopes of avoiding a veto. But in the end, the draft attracted more than enough votes for adoption, prompting Bolton to kill it.

'Shunning Our Responsibilities'

The vetoed resolution demanded the unconditional release of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, captured by Palestinian militants on June 25, as well as Israel's immediate withdrawal from Gaza and the release of dozens of Palestinian officials detained by Israel. It condemned the firing of rockets into Israel as well as the Israeli assault on Gaza and pressed the Jewish state to halt its "disproportionate use of force" against civilians.

Qatar's U.N. envoy Mutlaq Al-Qahtani lamented the veto. "When our response is weak, it seems we are shunning our responsibilities to defend civilian lives, notably women and children who are helpless," he told council members. Palestinian U.N. Observer Riyad Mansour said, "All possible efforts were exerted to arrive at a balanced and reasonable draft resolution."

"Concerted international action is needed before it deteriorates even further and plunges the entire region into an uncontrollable cycle of violence," Mansour added. But Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman asked the other governments present how they would have reacted had their neighbors fired rockets at their people and infiltrated their territory to seize soldiers.

"Would you just sit back and take it or would you do exactly what Israel is doing at this very minute -- making every effort to protect its people and allow them to live in the peace and security they long for," he said. "For us, every dead Palestinian child is a mistake and a tragedy. For them, every dead Israeli child is a victory and a cause for celebration," Gillerman said.

More Information on the Security Council
More Information on UN Involvement
More Information on Israel, Palestine, and the Occupied Territories
More Information on the Power of the Veto


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