The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US blocks UN bid to censure Israel

United Nations, March 26 (Reuters): The US has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution introduced by Arab nations to condemn Israel for assassinating militant Palestinian leader Ahmed Yassin.

The Bush administration, alone among major powers in not condemning Monday’s assassination as an extrajudicial killing, rejected the resolution because it did not also denounce Yassin’s group Hamas for suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in recent years.

Palestinians accused the US of granting Israel a licence to kill by vetoing the UN vote. Washington’s “no” vote killed the resolution because it is one of the five permanent members of the council with veto power. A total of 11 countries voted in favour.

Britain, Germany and Romania abstained after Algeria, negotiating for Arab nations, rejected an amendment they wanted that would have condemned“ atrocities” against Israelis. The measure was supported by China, Russia, France, Angola, Chile, Pakistan, Spain, Algeria, Benin, Brazil and the Philippines.

President George W. Bush will meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on April 14 and is expected to back an Israeli plan to unilaterally withdraw settlements in the Gaza Strip, sources said today. They are expected to “finalize understandings” about the settlements and security arrangements in Gaza, rather than announce any formal agreements.

Palestinian representatives said they would take the resolution to the 191-member UN General Assembly. The Palestinians enjoy strong support in the assembly while Washington, Israel’s closest ally, has no veto there.

Security Council measures can carry the force of international law, but assembly resolutions express the will of the international community.

In a statement to the council before the vote, US ambassador John Negroponte said that Washington believed the assassination of Yassin damaged peace efforts. But he added the “unbalanced” resolution would detract from the so-called road map peace plan by a quartet of West Asia advisers — the UN, the US, Russia and the European Union.

“I’m afraid this US veto will be taken by Israel as encouragement to continue on the path of violence and escalation, assassinations and reoccupation” of Palestinian territory, cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said.

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