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Statement on Draft Middle East Resolution

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at the UN Security Council
New York City
July 13, 2006

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton addresses the Security Council after vetoing a resolution sponsored by Qatar demanding that Israel halt its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, Thursday, July 13, 2006, at United Nations headquarters in New York. The U.S. vetoed the Arab-backed Security Council resolution that accused Israel of a 'disproportionate use of force' that endangered Palestinian civilians, and demanded Israel withdraw its troops from Gaza. [AP Photo/Mary Altaffer]Mr. President, we are all aware of the delicate situation in the Middle East, where new and major developments are unfolding as we speak. In light of the fluid and volatile nature of events on the ground, the United States believes this draft Resolution is not only untimely, but already outmoded. We have just recently witnessed a major escalation by Hizballah. On top of that, we have the announcement that the Secretary-General will be sending a team to the region to help resolve the situation. These important new developments should be reflected in any text we consider.

Not withstanding these new developments, there were many other reasons to reject this draft. The draft Resolution before the Council was unbalanced. It placed demands on one side in the Middle East conflict but not the other. This draft Resolution would have exacerbated tensions in the region and would have undermined our vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.

Passage would also have undermined the credibility of the Security Council, which itself must be seen by both sides as an honest broker in the Middle East conflict. In this regard, public statements of UN officials must also accurately reflect positions agreed by member governments.

The United States worked hard with other delegations to achieve a more balanced text, one which acknowledged that Israeli military actions were in direct response to repeated rocket attacks into Southern Israel from Gaza and the June 25 abduction of Israeli Defense Force Corporal Gilad Shalit by Hamas. Regrettably, we were not able to reach consensus.

While we remain gravely concerned about the deterioration of the situation in the West Bank and Gaza, we remain steadfast in our conviction that the best way to resolve the immediate crisis is for Hamas to secure the safe and unconditional release of Corporal Shalit.

Establishing the foundations for a lasting peace, however, will require us to focus our attention not just on Hamas, but on the state sponsors of terror who back them -- particularly Syria and Iran. Let us be clear that without the financial and material support of Damascus and Tehran, Hamas would be severely crippled in carrying out its terrorist operations. We call upon Syria and Iran to end their role as state sponsors of terror and unequivocally condemn the actions of Hamas, including this kidnapping. We yet again call upon Syria to arrest the Hamas ringleader, Khaled Meshal, who currently resides in Damascus. We stress again our condemnation of Syrian and Iranian support of Hizballah, which has claimed responsibility for the other kidnappings along the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon.

We further call on the Palestinian Authority government to stop all acts of violence and terror and comply with the principles enunciated by the Quartet: renounce terror, recognize Israel, and accept previous obligations and agreements, including the Roadmap. The failure of the Palestinian Authority government to take these steps hurts the Palestinian people.

We are obviously concerned about the duration of the present difficulties and the lack of a solution, but the issue for us is whether action by this Council makes such a solution more or less likely, not simply whether or not the Council seems to be "engaged".

The United States remains firmly committed to working with others to establish the foundations for a lasting peace in the region -- a foundation that would have been undermined had this draft Resolution passed.



Released on July 13, 2006

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