The United States has blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling on Israel to end its offensive in Gaza. Ten of the Council’s 15 member-nations voted in favour of the draft, put forward by Qatar on behalf of Arab states. Four countries abstained while Washington killed the text by using its power of veto. The resolution demanded the unconditional release of abducted Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit as well as Israel’s immediate withdrawal from Gaza and the release of dozens of Palestinian officials detained by Israel.
US Ambassador John Bolton explained his negative vote. “The draft resolution before the Council was unbalanced. It placed demands on one side in the Middle East conflict but not the other,” he said.
“This draft resolution would have exacerbated tensions in the region and would have undermined our vision of two democratic states – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security.”
The Security Council is expected to meet today to discuss the escalating crisis between Israel and Lebanon. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is sending senior advisers to the Middle East to try to defuse the situation.