US: UNSC Mideast draft 'unbalanced'

Cites anti-Israel bias; says document "doesn't contribute to peace effort."

woman kassam 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
woman kassam 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Security Council experts met Wednesday to discuss a draft UN statement on the Middle East which the United States said was unbalanced because it blamed Israel for recent incursions into Palestinian territory without mentioning Palestinian attacks. The Indonesian draft would have the UN Security Council express "great concern over the recent Israeli military incursions in the occupied Palestinian territories which caused deplorable civilian casualties and injuries" and "harmful humanitarian consequences." It says "such activities are in contradiction to the spirit of the agreement" last month between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In the draft circulated Wednesday, the council would also welcome the recent meeting between Olmert and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and express hope that it would add "positive vigor" to finding solutions to the Mideast conflict. It would also call on all parties to exercise restraint, engage in direct negotiations, and avoid actions that could hinder possible progress toward a peaceful solution to "the protracted conflict in the Middle East." Indonesia's UN Ambassador Rezlan Jenie, a new member of the Security Council, said Tuesday his aim in presenting the draft was "to try to build up a positive momentum towards the future." He told reporters Wednesday afternoon that council experts were meeting to discuss the draft statement. "Let's see how we can work together and try to narrow differences" and have something that could be adopted by consensus, Jenie said after introducing the statement at a council meeting on Tuesday. Acting US ambassador Alejandro Wolff said Tuesday there is an element of encouraging talks in the draft presidential statement, but "there's an element of blaming the Israelis for recent incursions" into Palestinian territories. "Our view is that it's an unbalanced snapshot of the situation, (and) gives a misleading picture of what's going on," Wolff said. "We have Israelis retaliating to terrorist attacks. We've got a security vacuum as a result of the military conflict between Hamas and Fatah in the Palestinian territories as a result of that." "The Israelis have every right to defend their citizens, and so without some sense of context or reference, this sort of one-sided statement does not contribute to the effort to promote peace and security and stability in the region. On the contrary, it makes people think that the United Nations can't view this issue objectively," Wolff said.