November 14th, 2006 03:37 EST
U.S. Rejects Security Council Resolution on Beit Hanoun Incident
Washington -- The United States “was compelled to vote against” a draft United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the November 8 Israeli artillery barrage that accidentally killed several Palestinian civilians because the resolution would have advanced a “one-sided political agenda,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says.
In a statement released November 11, Rice said the United States did not believe the resolution, drafted by Qatar, “was designed to contribute to the cause of peace.” She noted that the draft did not condemn Hamas for threatening to broaden its attacks against Israel and the United States, nor did it contain any reference to terrorism.
The resolution also contained what Rice called an “unsubstantiated determination” that Israel violated international law when it fired the artillery shells. The incident occurred one day after Israeli forces completed an operation in the area to stop rocket attacks into Israeli communities bordering Gaza. The intended target, according to Israeli defense officials, was a rocket-launching site staged near the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun in the Palestinian Territories, the accidentally targeted residential neighborhood. (See related article.)
“The Israeli government has apologized for the incident and stated that it did not intend to fire on Beit Hanoun. It has promised a thorough investigation. The United States calls on Israel to report its findings as soon as possible and to take appropriate steps to avoid a repetition of these events,” Rice said.
The draft resolution failed as a result of the negative U.S. vote. The United States is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and therefore has veto power. Ten countries voted in favor of the resolution, while four -- the United Kingdom, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia -- abstained. The four abstaining members expressed their sorrow at the loss of Palestinian life, but called the draft “unbalanced,” according to a November 11 press release issued by the Security Council.
Specifically, the representatives from the United Kingdom and Denmark said that Israel must show restraint in its military operations but added that the Palestinian Qassam rocket attacks against Israel must stop. The U.K. representative called on Syria and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to use their influence to stop the Palestinian rocket fire. The representative from Slovakia said the resolution lacked “recognition of the full complexity of the Middle East situation.”
In addition to condemning the Israeli attacks, the draft resolution would have required Israel to withdraw its troops from Gaza immediately. It also would have called for a cessation of violence on the part of both sides, emphasizing the need to preserve Palestinian institutions and infrastructure and expressing concern over the humanitarian crisis the Palestinians face.
The resolution would have established a U.N. fact-finding mission to investigate the November 8 attacks and encouraged the Quartet for Middle East peace -- made up of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia -- to act immediately to stabilize the situation, possibly by establishing “an international mechanism for protection of the civilian populations.”
Rice reiterated U.S. commitment to the "road map" to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and “the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.” (See text of document.)
The full text of Rice's November 11 statement is available on the State Department Web site.
A press release on the failed resolution, including the text of the proposed measure, is available on the United Nations Web site.
For more information on the Middle East peace process, see The Middle East: A Vision for the Future.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)