Friday, July 07, 2006

Bloglines - U.S. Blocks Draft Resolution Demanding Israel Quit Gaza


U.S. Blocks Draft Resolution Demanding Israel Quit Gaza

Associated Press Writer

July 6, 2006, 5:40 PM EDT

UNITED NATIONS -- Acting on behalf of Arab nations, Qatar circulated a draft U.N. Security Council resolution Thursday demanding Israel end its offensive in the Gaza Strip and release the Palestinian officials it has arrested.

The draft faced immediate opposition from the United States and France, which called it unbalanced in its criticism of Israel. The document does not condemn the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants and makes no mention of Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel this week.

France's ambassador said he would offer changes, but U.S. Ambassador John Bolton suggested that Washington opposed the resolution entirely.

That raised the possibility that the United States, as a permanent member of the Security Council, would veto it. It has done so in the past when it believed resolutions condemning Israeli action did not include criticism of Palestinian actions.

Experts from the 15 Security Council nations were to meet later in the day to discuss the draft, but Bolton was not optimistic.

"I'm not sure there are amendments that we could propose that would make it into an acceptable resolution," he said.

Israel launched the offensive last week in response to the June 25 capture of an Israeli soldier, 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

The resolution calls on Israel to "scrupulously abide by its obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention," and expresses its "grave concern about the dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people.

It demands that Israel "cease its aggression against the Palestinian civilian population" in Gaza, and also demands that Israel withdraw its forces immediately.

It expresses appreciation for efforts to find a diplomatic solution and release all prisoners, including Shalit.

"We hope that the Security Council would rise to the occasion and would adopt a resolution and send the appropriate message to Israel to stop their aggression," said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. observer.

Mansour implicitly criticized the United States for its claim that the resolution was unfair. In a meeting on the issue last week, he said one speaker -- a clear reference to the U.S. -- had delivered a speech that was exclusively supportive of Israel.

"I think those who speak with that spirit, maybe, might be the last people to talk about one-sided draft resolutions," he said.

France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said his nation would try to make the resolution more acceptable to the wider council.

"We think that this text needs to be balanced, it's not balanced enough and we will propose amendments," he said. "It requires, we think, a lot of work.",0,7151974.story?coll=sns-ap-nationworld-headlines


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