UNSC fails to adopt draft resolution, owing to US veto

Palestinian children inspecting the rubble of a destroyed house, after it was demolished by Israeli troops in the ‘Ein Beit Al-Ma refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus, November 13, 2006. (MaanImages/Rami Swidan)

Vote is 10 in Favour to 1 against, with 4 Abstentions (United Kingdom, Denmark, Japan, Slovakia)

The Security Council this afternoon failed to adopt a resolution condemning Israeli military operations in Gaza “which have caused loss of civilian life”, as well as Palestinian rocket fire into Israel, while calling for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and a cessation of violence from both parties in the conflict.

The draft, which was not adopted owing to the negative vote of the United States, a permanent Member of the Council, would have also requested Secretary-General Kofi Annan to establish a fact-finding mission within 30 days on the 8 November incident in Beit Hanoun, which resulted in the deaths of at least 18 civilians and sparked a day-long Council meeting on Thursday.

It would also have called on the diplomatic Quartet consisting of the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russian Federation to take immediate steps to stabilize the situation, including through the possible establishment of “an international mechanism for the protection of the civilian populations.”

Ten Council Members voted in favour of the draft, while four countries ( United Kingdom, Denmark, Japan, Slovakia) abstained.

Speaking prior to action on the draft, the United States representative said that the text did not display an even-handed characterization of the events in Gaza and was politically motivated. Nor did it advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace to which the United States aspired and for which it was working assiduously. While joining other Council members in deeply regretting the loss of life in Beit Hanoun, he noted that Israeli authorities had admitted that the incident had been a mistake and intended to conduct an investigation into the events there, which he hoped would be completed expeditiously.

He said, however, that he was disturbed by the language of the resolution that was in many places biased against Israel. For example, one of the preambular paragraphs of the text equated military operations of Israel that were legal with the firing of rockets into the territory of Israel that was terrorism.

At the same time, he said he was disturbed that the draft did not contain a single reference to terrorism or any condemnation of a recent statement by Hamas that Palestinians should resume terrorist attacks on a wide scale or strike against United States interests, he continued, maintaining that the Palestinian people deserved a Government that would become a legitimate partner in the peace process and work toward a two-State solution through the Quartet’s Road Map.

Following the vote, the representative of Qatar said that his country had submitted a balanced draft that reflected the views of the majority of Council members. Peoples and Member States should judge the objectivity of the draft for themselves. His delegation was trying to protect the civilians who desperately needed protection and any lukewarm reaction from the Council gave an impression that it was shirking its responsibilities.

The image of defenceless civilians killed mercilessly at Beit Hanoun, he said, would leave a lasting image in the minds of the people all over the world. The Council’s failure to put an end to Israel’s aggression would lead to the continuation of the cycle of violence which in turn leads to further deterioration of the situation in the Palestinian territories.

The representative of the Congo also expressed disappointment at the failure of the draft.

The Permanent Observer of Palestine thanked all those who had voted in favour of the “balanced text before the Council” and said that he was disappointed that the draft not been adopted. He said the Council had conveyed two wrong messages: for Israel, it had sent a message that it could continue to behave above international law; for Palestine — that justice was not being dealt within an appropriate way by the Council. But his people, despite the disappointment, would never lose hope. Justice would prevail and the occupation would eventually come to an end.

Only through negotiations — and not massacres and aggression — would the solution to the conflict be found, he continued. His people would never lose faith of the great principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. “We will continue coming to you until justice prevails,” he said.

The four abstaining Members expressed deep sorrow over the incident at Beit Hanoun and other loss of life in Gaza but also claimed the draft was unbalanced, describing negotiations that had progressed toward more equity but had not achieved a text that would have been helpful in ending the violence.

The United Kingdom’s representative said she remained deeply concerned about the consequences of Israeli military action and the resulting loss of civilian lives, calling for restraint on the part of Israel while calling also on Syria and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to use their influence to stop the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel. She said it was absolutely right that the Council act on this issue, but that it was essential to act in a manner that was balanced.

Also looking for a more balanced text, the representative of Denmark said rocket attacks against Israel must stop, but at the same time, Israel must make sure that its security operations were conducted in accordance with international law and did not hamper finding a peaceful solution on the ground. A State’s response in the right to self-defence must be proportionate.

The representative of Japan said his delegation had participated constructively in the negotiations on the draft proposed by Qatar. He appreciated the efforts to reflect some of Japan’s concerns during discussions, but said that further improvement was needed.

Concurring, Slovakia’s representative said the text lacked recognition of the full complexity of the Middle East situation.

The meeting, which began at 12:19 p.m., adjourned at 12:47 p.m.


Following is the complete text of the draft resolution considered by the Council:

The Security Council,

“Reaffirming it previous resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 1322 (2000), 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002), 1403 (2002), 1405 (2002), 1435 (2002), 1515 (2003), and 1544 (2004),

“Reaffirming the applicable rules and principles of international law, including humanitarian and human rights laws, in particular the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949,

“Expressing its grave concern at the continued deterioration of the situation on the ground in the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel since 1967, during the recent period, particularly as a result of the excessive and disproportionate use of force by Israel, the occupying Power, which has caused extensive loss of civilian Palestinian life and injuries, including among children and women,

“Condemning the military operations being carried out by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Gaza Strip, in particular the attack that took place in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006, which have caused loss of civilian life and extensive destruction of Palestinian property and vital infrastructure,

“Condemning also the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel,

“1. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately cease its military operations that endangers the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to immediately withdraw its forces from within the Gaza Strip to positions prior to 28 June 2006;

“2. Calls for an immediate halt of all acts of violence and military activities between the Israeli and Palestinian side as was agreed in the Sharm El-Sheikh understandings of 8 February 2005;

“3. Requests the Secretary-General to establish a fact-finding mission on the attack that took place in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006 within thirty days;

“4. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to scrupulously abide by its obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949;”5. Calls upon the Palestinian Authority to take immediate and sustained action to bring an end to violence, including the firing of rockets on Israeli territory;

“6. Emphasizes the need to preserve the Palestinian institutions, infrastructure and properties;

“7. Expresses grave concern about the dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people and calls for the provision of emergency assistance to them;

“8. Calls upon the international community, including the Quartet, to take immediate steps, to stabilize the situation and restart the peace process, including through the possible establishment of an international mechanism for protection of the civilian populations;

“9. Calls upon the parties supported by the international community to take immediate steps including confidence-building measures, with the objective of resuming peace negotiations;

“10. Stresses the importance of, and the need to achieve, a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all its relevant resolutions including its resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003), the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the League of Arab States Summit in March 2002 in Beirut and the Road Map;

“11. Requests the Secretary-General of the United Nations to report back to the Security Council on the implementation of this resolution in a timely manner;

“12. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”