United Nations, Dec. 21 (Reuters): The US vetoed a Syrian-sponsored UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israel for the recent killings of a Briton and two Palestinians working for the UN in the West Bank and Gaza.
Twelve council members, including Britain, voted in favour and Bulgaria and Cameroon abstained late yesterday. But the negative vote by the US, one of five permanent council members with veto power, meant the resolution was not adopted.
The proposed measure, backed by Arab nations, would have condemned the killings by the Israeli army and the destruction of a UN World Food Program warehouse in Gaza as a violation of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war.
US ambassador John Negroponte, who had submitted a substitute draft that removed the condemnation of Israel but expressed “grave concern” at the killings, said Syria’s proposed resolution was unbalanced and not conducive to West Asia peace efforts.
Syria’s UN ambassador Mikhail Wehbe said he had accepted amendments from council members all week but the US was “attempting to equate the victim with the butcher”.
Palestinian envoy Nasser al-Kidwa told the council he could not understand the US veto “but we note that the United States is biased toward Israel”.
“It seems that this bias knows no limit even if this has to be at the expense of international humanitarian law and if it comes at the expense of the lives of those who work in the humanitarian field,” he said.
Israeli soldiers killed Briton Iain Hook on November 22 after a gunbattle with Palestinians in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp.
A week later, two Palestinians were shot in Gaza. All worked for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which gives aid to Palestinians.