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UN Security Council Holds Emergency Session on Assassination of Hamas Leader - 2004-04-20

The U.N. Security Council has held an emergency session on Israel's assassination of a second top Hamas leader in a month. The Palestinian envoy accused the Council, and the United States in particular, of encouraging Israel to continue its targeted killings.

Without naming the United States, Palestinian envoy Nasser al-Kidwa effectively blamed Washington for the killing of Hamas leader Dr. Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi.

In remarks to the Security Council Monday, the Palestinian envoy said the U.S. veto of a resolution condemning last month's killing of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin had given Israel a green light to kill the sheik's successor. "It is without a doubt that the recent failure of the Security Council to condemn the extrajudicial execution of Sheik Yassin and to take urgent measures to address the deterioration of the situation due to the veto cast by one of the Council's permanent members has further emboldened the Israeli government to continue carrying out such illegal actions with impunity," he said.

But Deputy U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham rejected the Palestinian claim. While saying Washington had advised the Israelis to consider the consequences of their targeted killings, Ambassador Cunningham noted that the attack on Dr. Rantisi followed a Hamas-sponsored suicide bombing.

"Palestinians must stop armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror," he said.

Ambassador Cunningham's remarks left little doubt that the United States will veto a draft resolution condemning the latest killing. Such a resolution was introduced after Monday's meeting. It is to be discussed in informal session Tuesday, and a vote could come later in the day.