US Fails To Block Anti-Israel UN Resolution

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

London ( - The Clinton administration blasted as "one sided" Saturday a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel for 10 days of violence in Jerusalem and the disputed territories - but chose nonetheless not to use its veto to block it.

Instead, the US abstained from the resolution that "condemns acts of violence, especially the excessive use of force against Palestinians, resulting in injury and loss of human life." It passed by a 14-0 vote.

The resolution, initiated by the Palestinian Authority, described Israel as an "occupying power," and called for "a speedy and objective inquiry" into the violence - a key demand of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat during last week's failed US-chaired talks in Paris.

As one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the US had the power to veto the resolution against its Mideast ally. Earlier, during the negotiations, it threatened to do so if the text was not watered down, but eventually abstained in the vote on the final draft.

Explaining the decision, White House spokesman PJ Crowley said: "If we vetoed the resolution, the US would be unable to play its role as an honest broker in the peace process."

Richard Holbrooke, US ambassador to the UN, was clearly unhappy with the resolution that he called "one-sided" and noted that it made no mention of Israeli casualties. It also created a false impression that the violence had been spontaneous, he said.

Israel has maintained that a campaign of orchestrated violence was planned in advance, and that the PA used as a pretext to launch it a September 28 visit to the contested Temple Mount by opposition Israeli lawmakers led by Ariel Sharon.

Holbrooke told reporters the decision to abstain was "reached at the highest levels of government" and enabled the US better "to serve our national interests and the efforts to deal with the great dangers that exist in the region of the Middle East today."

A US Christian group supportive of Israel protested the administration's decision.

Christian Israel Public Affairs Committee head Richard Hellman sent a letter to Clinton Sunday urging him to reconsider his stance and work to change the resolution, challenging him to follow President George Bush's example in having an infamous UN resolution equating Zionism with racism repealed.

"By your 'evenhandedness' toward the victims and the perpetrators of violence, you have endangered not just Israel's security, but America's as well, since full-blown Middle East war threatens," Hellman warned.

American Jewish leaders expressed "deep regret" at the resolution.

"The American Jewish Committee is stunned that, at a time when Arab attacks against Israel are spreading, the UN Security Council passes a resolution singling out Israel for the violence of recent days," the AJC said in a statement.

It said the Security Council had failed to question the Palestinians' "behavior and motives," and ignored Arab actions, including Saturday's desecration of a Jewish shrine in Nablus, and Hizballah's kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers near the Lebanese border.

"We are reminded of the days leading up to the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war when the international community ignored the mobilization of Arab armies and the verbal threats of Arab leaders.

"Now, as Israel is under assault from Palestinians, including armed Palestinian police, from Hizballah forces in Lebanon and from the leaders of Iran and Iraq who are calling for Israel's wholesale destruction, the UN Security Council has chosen to discount these very real and vivid dangers while condemning Israel," the AJC statement read.

Another US Jewish organization has questioned the administration's response to another aspect of the crisis - the wounding of American citizens caught up in the clashes.

The Zionist Organization of America issued a statement noting that seven Americans had been hurt so far in Palestinian-instigated violence.

An American tourist visiting a south Jerusalem monastery was shot in the head when Palestinian gunmen opened fire in the direction of the building; an elderly American rabbi was severely assaulted by PA policemen; a New Jersey couple was beaten up by an Arab mob, and three American teenagers were dragged from a taxicab in Jerusalem and stabbed and beaten by Palestinian protestors.

"The ZOA is renewing its appeal to the Clinton administration to take immediate action to capture the attackers," the statement said.

ZOA president Morton Klein wrote a letter to the president noting that the US has offered substantial rewards for information leading to the capture of those suspected of killing Americans abroad.

At least 70 Americans have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists over the years, 12of them since the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords - and hundreds have been hurt.

"Yet no rewards have ever been offered for information leading to the capture of the Palestinian Arab terrorists who have killed or injured American citizens," the ZOA statement said.

ZOA said the entire US Jewish community was united on this issue.

Clinton canceled several campaign stops Saturday to concentrate of diplomatic efforts to try to calm the Mideast crisis, the White House said.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow