US Tells UN To Stay Out of Mid-East Conflict

By Stewart Stogel | July 7, 2008 | 8:09 PM EDT

United Nations ( - The Bush Administration has officially told the U.N. Security Council that it would veto any attempt by the Council to get involved in the current Middle-East conflict, especially if the much talked about resolution condemning Israel for the military tactics used against the Palestinians was brought up for a vote. The U.S. considers that resolution "one-sided."

In closed-door consultations Thursday, acting U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham told Council members Washington would block any resolution dealing with the current fighting.

Shortly after the meeting, Cunningham told reporters, "Any resolution [by the Council] is a non-starter as far as we are concerned ... It means we will oppose a resolution by whatever means we have to."

The U.S. decision was not expected by the Palestinian U.N. delegation. For the last week, the Palestinians hoped for a compromise with the U.S., but it never materialized.

The Palestinian U.N. observer, Nasser al-Kidwa expressed his disappointment.

"The United States clearly made its position known to the members of the Security Council they would actually veto any draft resolution," al-Kidwa said. "We will have another round of discussions with the Non-Aligned caucus, with other members of the Council to decide what to do, if anything, in light of this clear American threat ... It was something we had not been told before."

As Washington slammed the door on any official Council action, Cunningham said he might let a so-called presidential statement be adopted. Such a statement, in reality, little more than a press release, would have no legal standing. That did not sit well with the Palestinian diplomat.

"We do not think that this is the appropriate vehicle for action by the Security Council. It is too little, too late. It will not be received positively by our people."

Al-Kidwa hastened to add that the U.S. position would now force a re-assessment of P.A. cooperation with Washington and these actions would impact on the upcoming talks in Berlin between P.A. President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

"The Israeli military's bloody campaign is going on in an organized way and I think they (the US and Israel) are trying to increase the pressure and to squeeze the Palestinian people even further. These are things which will complicate the meeting between President Arafat and Minister Peres," al Kidwa said.

While other avenues remain open for the Palestinian Authority, such as appealing to the U.N. General Assembly, where the United States possesses no veto power, such moves
have no legal standing and are not enforceable.

All of this throws into doubt a possible meeting between President George W. Bush and Yasser Arafat in New York City next month, when both will attend a special U.N. conference on the welfare of children.

Bush has met Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon twice since taking office, but to date has avoided any such meetings with Arafat.