US vetoes UNSC resolution on Gaza ops

Bolton calls draft "biased against Israel and politically motivated."

qatar vote in UN (photo credit: AP)
qatar vote in UN
(photo credit: AP)
The United States vetoed Saturday a UN Security Council draft resolution that sought to condemn an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip and demand that the IDF pull out of the territory. US Ambassador John Bolton said the United States was "disturbed" that the Arab-backed draft resolution was "biased against Israel and politically motivated." "This resolution does not display an evenhanded characterization of the recent events in Gaza, nor does it advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace to which we aspire and for which we are working assiduously," he told the Security Council. It was the second US veto of a Security Council draft resolution concerning Israeli military operations in Gaza this year. The US blocked action on a document this summer after Israel launched its offensive in response to the capture of Cpl. Gilad Shalit. The draft received 10 votes in favor and four abstentions, along with the US vote against. Britain, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia all abstained. Danish Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Loj said her country abstained because the draft did not include "a more thorough recognition of the complexities on the ground." The draft text, introduced by Qatar, had been weakened slightly in recent days to help improve its chances of passage. A section was added demanding the Palestinian Authority take immediate action to bring an end to violence, including the firing of rockets into Israel from its territories. It also called for the UN secretary-general to establish a "fact-finding mission" to probe Wednesday's attack in Gaza that killed 19 people, a step below ordering a full investigation. In addition, it backed off calls for UN observers to be placed on the Gaza-Israel border, asking instead for the "possible establishment of an international mechanism for protection of the civilian populations." Palestinians strengthened calls for Security Council action earlier this week after the IDF artillery barrage Wednesday in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun. In an open session of the General Assembly on Thursday, Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour called the attack "state terrorism" and said the perpetrators should be held accountable under international law for war crimes. Israel has expressed regret for the loss of life in Beit Hanun but has said it will continue its operations to stop militants from launching rockets into Israel from Gaza. The army said it was targeting areas where rockets had been fired in recent days at the Israeli cities. It said an investigation indicated the casualties were caused by a technical failure in the fire control system of an artillery battery.