|U.S. Vetoes U.N.
Killing of Hamas Leader Yassin
FOX-News / AP March 25, 2004
UNITED NATIONS — The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution Thursday condemning Israel's assassination of a Hamas (search) leader, calling the measure "one-sided" and saying it ignored the group's bloody record of terrorism.
The United States had
demanded that the resolution on the death of Ahmed Yassin (search) include
a mention of attacks by Hamas and other militant groups.
Algeria (^), the resolution's sponsor, had resisted identifying the
groups by name or citing specific attacks.
"This Security Council
does nothing to contribute to a peaceful
settlement when it condemns one party's actions and turns a blind eye
to everything else occurring in the region," U.S. Ambassador John
Negroponte said before the vote that came after days of bitter debate.
The vote was 11 countries in favor, three countries abstaining, and one country against -- the United States.
Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, was killed in a missile strike Monday morning in the Gaza Strip (^). He is the highest-ranking militant to die in a series of Israeli assassinations.
Hamas has claimed
responsibility for dozens of bombings and shootings of Israelis during
31/2 years of violence. Israel (^) says
it is weakening Hamas by targeting its leaders, but critics say killing
suspects without arresting or trying them violates international law
and breeds resentment among Palestinians.
"Israeli policies are not part of the battle against
terrorism; it's part of the problem of creating terrorism," said Nasser
al-Kidwa, the Palestinian representative.
Negroponte said the United States, too, was "deeply troubled" by the killing of Yassin.
"Israel's action has
escalated tensions in Gaza and the region, and
could set back our effort to resume progress towards peace," he
He said the United States
could not support the resolution because
it failed to mention recent attacks by Hamas, including a
bombing in Ashdod that killed 10 Israelis last week. The document
limited its condemnation to violence in the Palestinian territories,
omitting attacks in Israel.
"The council should be
focused on ways to advance the goal of two
states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and
security," Negroponte said. "The
one-sided resolution before the
Council does not advance that goal."
Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman accused the Palestinian Authority of siding with Yassin.
"The Security Council ...
would have committed an unforgivable act
of hypocrisy had it come to the defense of a man whose life's work was
the eradication of peace, a man who was nothing less than a mass
murderer," Gillerman said.
On Wednesday, the U.N.
Human Rights Commission in Geneva voted 31-2
to condemn Israel for Yassin's death, but the body has no power
punish countries. A resolution by the Security Council would have
carried more international weight.
The 11 Security Council members who voted for the measure on Thursday were: China, Russia, France, The Philippines, Angola, Chile, Pakistan, Spain, Algeria, Benin and Brazil.
Britain, Germany and
Romania abstained from the vote.
The Algerian delegation
said it might take the resolution to the
full, 191-nation U.N. General Assembly. That body
with the Palestinians in such issues, but lacks the prestige of the
"those council members who were recently
victims of horrendous terror" for casting votes in favor of the
measure. It was an
apparent reference to Spain, where bombings in
Madrid killed 190 people on March 11; and Russia, where a Moscow
attack killed 41 on Feb. 6.
"If you knew before the bloody massacre of your citizens took place who was going to carry that horrendous act out, would you have sat still and let it happen?" Gillerman asked.
The vetoed resolution condemned Yassin's death and called for a "complete cessation of extrajudicial executions."
It also condemned "all terrorist attacks against any civilians as well as all acts of violence and destruction."
However, it did not mention any militant groups by name -- a traditional U.S. demand.
A U.S. draft proposal would have deleted all condemnation of
"extrajudicial executions." That issue is a touchy one for the
Americans, because the United States has marked suspected terrorists
for death in the past.
In perhaps the most
dramatic U.S. assassination, a missile fired by
a CIA-operated Predator drone killed Al Qaeda commander Qaed Salim
Sinan al-Harethi in Yemen in November 2002.
Only five members of the Security Council -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- can veto the body's resolutions. Thursday's veto is the United States' 79th and the latest in a long string of vetoes regarding Israel.
The Soviet Union and Russia have cast the most Security Council vetoes over the years, 121. Britain has cast 32, France 18 and China, 5.