July 1st, 2006 05:05 EST
U.S. Urges Caution in Security Council Response to Gaza Crisis
Washington " U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, in a June 30 emergency session of the U.N. Security Council, cautioned that body against taking any steps that might exacerbate tensions over the recent Israeli incursion into the Gaza strip.
He said that any remarks or formal statements from the Security Council could undermine the limited credibility of the Council " by creating the impression that the United Nations is all talk and no action. "
Israeli forces launched an assault on Gaza June 27 in response to a June 25 raid by Palestinian militants in which two Israeli soldiers were killed and a third was abducted. In the initial attack, Israeli aircraft destroyed three bridges and Gaza`s main power station while Israeli troops took up positions in southern Gaza. More recently, Israeli aircraft have bombed the Palestinian Interior Ministry building in Gaza City.
According to news reports, Israel also has detained dozens of Palestinian officials including at least eight Cabinet members and 20 legislators.
Bolton placed the blame for the crisis squarely on the Palestinian Authority`s governing Hamas party. Calling the abduction of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit a clear act of terrorism, he said, The attack and hostage-taking by Hamas last week precipitated this crisis, and their refusal to release their hostage continues to place innocent Palestinians in harm`s way. "
He said it is the responsibility of the Hamas government to stop all acts of violence and terror and comply with the principles enunciated by the Quartet [the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States]: renounce terror, recognize Israel, and accept previous obligations and agreements, including the Roadmap. "
Bolton called on all parties to avoid actions that would escalate the situation but affirmed Israel`s unequivocal right to defend itself and the lives of its citizens. "
The ambassador also blamed Syria and Iran for fueling the conflict through their support for terrorism. He called on Syria to arrest Damascus-based Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal and close down the various terrorist headquarters in Damascus. "
In light of the ongoing attacks on Gaza, Bolton urged close attention to the humanitarian needs of the population of Gaza, and action to ensure that those needs are met expeditiously. "
Much of Gaza`s water and sewage system has been incapacitated by the destruction of the power plant.
This marks the first major Israeli incursion into Gaza since Israel withdrew some 8,000 settlers and military forces from the coastal strip in September 2005.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)