US Defends Israeli Gaza Onslaught

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The United States has blocked a UN Security Council statement aimed at putting pressure on Israel to stop its daily murderous military strikes on the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have been shelling Gaza by land, sea and air for weeks, as well as stepping up assassinations of Palestinian militants in the West Bank and Gaza.

With aid cut off, and Israel blockading the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian people are going hungry.

The motion proposed by Arab states was rejected by the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton.

He said on Thursday that the draft, even after three days of intense negotiations, ‘was disproportionately critical of Israel, and unfairly so, and needlessly so’.

Palestinian National Authority UN observer, Riyad Mansour, accused Washington of ‘shielding and protecting Israeli activities and aggression against the Palestinian people’.

Mansour added: ‘It was obvious that many of their concerns were accommodated, but yet they kept coming back and coming back for additional things.

‘It was obvious they did not want the Security Council to have a position.’

The US does not have formal veto power when it comes to security council statements, but it was able to block the draft because council rules require that statements be supported by all 15 members.

During closed-door negotiations, the US effectively killed the text by seeking amendment after amendment until Qatar, the council’s sole Arab member, gave up the fight.

The draft statement, after three days of US revisions, expressed concern about rocket attacks on Israel launched from Gaza and the escalation of Israeli shelling of Gaza. But still the US would not have it.

It urged both sides to comply with international law and to refrain from steps that could escalate the situation.

It called on the Palestinians ‘to take a clear public stance against violence and to take firm measures to halt rocket attacks and suicide bombings’. And it urged renewed activity towards the creation of a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security.

Asked by reporters to confirm that the US alone had opposed issuing the statement, Bolton said: ‘If I were the only holdout, I’d be proud of that fact.’

• Meanwhile, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has said the US ‘would look at the full range of options’ available to the UN Security Council to respond to Iran’s announcement that it has successfully enriched uranium.

Rice said on Thursday evening that there will ‘have to be some consequence’ for Iran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment activities, as the Security Council president demanded in a statement two weeks ago.