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US Vetoes Resolution Condemning Apartheid Wall

Published: Thu 16 Oct 2003 12:07 PM
US Vetoes UN Resolution Condemning Israel’s Apartheid Wall
Al-Kidwa: Washington Casts a Large Shadow on Its Role as Mediator of Peace Process
The United States on Tuesday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israel for building its Apartheid Separation Wall on occupied Palestinian land in the Israeli - reoccupied West Bank and the Palestinian UN envoy Nasser al-Kidwa said Arab states would now take the draft resolution to the 191-nation UN General Assembly.
While Security Council texts can carry the force of international law, assembly resolutions simply represent the will of the international community.
"We have seen tonight the second US veto in less than a month that again casts a large shadow on the possibility for the United States to exercise the role of a mediator or a broker of the Middle East peace process," said al-Kidwa.
Al-Kidwa, lamented the American decision and said there can be no peace process so long as Israel is building the barrier.
"You cannot have this construction of the expansionist wall and simply pretend that the roadmap exists," Al-Kidwa said. "It's either or."
The United States was the only country to vote against, using its veto as one of five permanent members of the council. Four of the 15 members of the Security Council abstained, namely: Bulgaria, Cameroon, Germany and Britain.
US Ambassador John Negroponte said the resolution "was unbalanced" and "did not further the goals of peace and security in the region."
The vetoed Palestinian draft resolution would have branded the wall as a violation of international law that "must be ceased and reversed."
The draft measure also denounced plans to build 600 new homes in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied the Palestinian territories.
But the "No" vote from Washington killed it.
Voting in favor of the measure were Angola, Chile, China, France, Guinea, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Spain and Syria.
The American veto came after the United States suggested an alternate draft that would have called on all parties in the Middle East work to dismantle terrorist groups. But Syria, which had introduced the draft, went ahead with the vote anyway.
The Palestinians argue Israel's plan to build a second phase of its Apartheid Wall, already 90 miles long, constitutes a land grab that aims to colonize the Palestinian territories and derail plans for the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state.
The Security Council vote followed a six-hour public meeting at which ambassadors from dozens of nations lined up to denounce the Israeli plans to prolong the Wall.
However the United States joined in the criticism of the Wall plans but argued a U.N. resolution was not the way to pursue the debate.
Most of the 40 speakers who addressed the issue, including permanent member France, criticized Israel's position.
"It is the responsibility of the Security Council to act by adopting a resolution which opposes the construction of the wall along its planned path, a path which is illegal under international law and whose humanitarian and political consequences are grave and unacceptable," said Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, France's ambassador to the UN.
The fierce daylong open debate saw several of about 40 countries that spoke portray the wall as racist and colonialist, and an overreaction that would turn some parts of the Palestinian territories into "open-air prisons."
Syria's UN Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad, whose country is the only Arab nation on the 15-member council, introduced the draft resolution Thursday on behalf of the 22-member Arab League.
The request for Security Council action came a week after the Israeli Cabinet approved an extension of the Wall that would sweep around Jewish settlements deep in the West Bank.
Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman praised the US veto, saying the resolution "failed to draw attention to Palestinian terrorism."
The vote followed by less than a month another US veto of an earlier Palestinian resolution demanding that Israel back away from a threat to "remove" Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
That measure too was taken to the General Assembly after its veto in the council, and adopted there by a lopsided vote.

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