Libya, US unable to agree on Gaza

US removed veto on UNSC resolution after Kassams mentioned, but Libya opposes for the same reason.

gillerman 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
gillerman 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
NEW YORK - The UN Security Council is expected to make a final decision about a presidential statement on the situation in Gaza on Monday, after a long week of negotiations that failed to result in the necessary consensus. But whereas the United States had been the sole objector for most of the week, Friday the cards turned. This time the Libyan envoy stood out among the 15-member council as the only country unwilling to accept a new draft which now includes a condemnation of the Kassam attacks on Israel. For most of the week-long negotiations over a draft statement proposed by Libya, the current president of the council, which harshly condemned Israel for the "humanitarian crises" in Gaza and made no mention of attacks on Israel, the US refused to agree to a statement they called unbalanced. But Friday, after a long series of bargaining sessions that produced several amendments to the nonbinding statement, it was Libya's UN Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi who said he had to refer the latest text to Tripoli. Ettalhi's statement that he had unspecified problems with a text accepted by the 14 other members came after consulting with other Arab UN ambassadors. Western diplomats say the majority of the Arabs were willing to okay the draft, except for Syria and Qatar who strongly rejected it. The Palestinians, on the other hand, supported the draft, thinking it may strengthen Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, diplomats said. The Arab League, which met Sunday, were expected to discuss it, and a decision is expected to be made at a council meeting Monday. Western diplomats said they thought it was unlikely that Libya would okay the draft Monday, and expected the statement to be nixed altogether. "Although Israel did not engage in this debate because we felt the Security Council should not have been involved in it in the first place, the mere fact that 14 countries are willing to condemn Kassam rockets is very important, and puts the emphasis where it should be, on terrorist attacks and security risks to Israel," Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. "That in itself is a sign they realize where the danger is. But I still feel that by engaging in it in the first place the Security Council was actually helping Hamas rather than Abu Mazen [Abbas], and rewarding terror, and undermining the spirit of Annapolis." The US, the lone council member to raise major objections since Libya first submitted the statement, on Friday put forward amendments and called the latest text "balanced." "The United States has been actively engaged," US deputy envoy Alejandro Wolff told reporters. "It's regrettable that the Libyan delegation could not agree." The latest draft calls on Israel "to minimize the impact of its actions on the civilian population in Gaza" and "to facilitate safe and secure access for humanitarian aid to the Palestinians." It also says the council "condemns the daily rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians, particularly since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005," and that the council "calls for an immediate cessation of such attacks."