The United States has signaled that it will not support any more United Nations resolutions on the Middle East unless they specifically condemn acts of terror by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other militant Palestinian groups. The Security Council consulted on a new Arab resolution Friday, but there was little hope that it would ever come to a vote.
The Arabs presented a resolution condemning all forms of violence, including acts of terror. But for the United States, it was too much a generic formula. U.S. diplomats say they would only consider a resolution that actually names Hamas and other militant groups as perpetrators of terror against Israeli citizens.
Palestinian representative Nasser al-Kidwa called the U.S. position unreasonable, saying if Palestinian groups are named then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon should also be singled out for atrocities, such as the attack on Gaza City that killed civilians.
"So, again, we think we presented a very reasonable draft," he said. "If this is really unacceptable as is, then we suggest that anyone who does not accept it really does not want action by the Security Council."
That is exactly what the United States does not want, more U.N. resolutions on the Middle East. U.S. diplomats say hope for an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in diplomacy, and those efforts are moving ahead.
British ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, the current president of the Security Council, has been trying to move adroitly between the two sides. He pointed out the Council may indeed have a role to play in the conflict, but the broader goal of a comprehensive settlement must be kept in mind. He said, "We have to calculate very carefully how we add to the prospects for the parties to this dispute getting out of the difficulties they find themselves in."
Diplomats say privately they hold out little hope that the Arab resolution will pass, or even brought to a vote. More consultations will be held next week.
The Security Council has passed some 200 resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict in the last 50 years. Many of them have been ignored. But there is little the United Nations and its members can do about it, short of sanctions or armed intervention.