The United States has vetoed an Arab-drafted Security Council resolution that would have demanded an immediate end to Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The measure received 11 'yes' votes, with three other countries - Britain, Germany and Romania - abstaining.
The draft sponsored by Algeria, Pakistan and Tunisia called for a halt to the Israeli offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 65 people.
But before it was put to a vote, U.S. Ambassador John Danforth took the floor to serve clear notice that Washington considered it lopsided and unbalanced. He charged that the measure would only encourage terrorists by condemning Israel while omitting the other side of the story.
"It does not mention even one of the 450 Qassam rocket attacks launched against Israel over the past two years," he said. "It does not mention two hundred rockets launched this year alone. It does not mention the two Israeli children who were outside playing last week when a rocket suddenly crashed into their young bodies."
Ambassador Danforth charged that a vote in favor of the proposed resolution would have encouraged terrorists and done nothing to prevent what he called "the predictable Israeli response"
"When the rest of the world gangs up on Israel with insidious silence about terrorism, it does not advance the cause of peace," he said. "It encourages both sides to dig in. It makes Israel feel isolated and backed into a corner and it discourages dialogue."
Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali, who brought the resolution forward on behalf of the Arab group, denounced the U.S. veto. He charged that the Council's inaction was strengthening the perception that it was powerless on the Middle East issue, and only effective when criticizing Arab countries.
"By failing to take action, the Security Council is failing its responsibilities," he said. "It is once again failing the Palestinian people and sending the wrong message to the world. It is confirming that when it comes to Israel, the Security Council is unable to take action."
Palestinian Representative Nasser al-Kidwa criticized the U.S. veto, saying it was the 29th time the United States had intervened to block a Security Council resolution on the Middle East.
Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman hailed the defeat of the resolution, saying Israel has the right and the duty to defend its citizens. He condemned what he called 'the evil Palestinian leadership', accusing them of bringing horror and destruction on its own people.
Arab nations had hastily drafted the resolution on Monday, saying it was urgent in view of Israel's Gaza offensive. The Israeli operation was launched last week after a Palestinian rocket killed two children in a southern Israeli town.