The United States today vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution specifically demanding that Israel not deport or threaten the safety of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Eleven members voted in favour and three abstained on the resolution, which was sponsored by Council members Pakistan and Syria, along with South Africa and the Sudan.
The defeated text also demanded "the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terrorism, provocation, incitement and destruction" and expressed full support for the Road Map peace plan.
The Road Map, put forward by the so-called diplomatic Quartet - UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States - calls for parallel and reciprocal steps by Israel and the Palestinians leading to two states living side by side in peace by 2005.
The resolution expressed full support for the Quartet's efforts and "calls for increased efforts to ensure the implementation of the Road Map by the two sides."
Abstaining were Bulgaria, Germany and the United Kingdom. The Council meeting followed a daylong session yesterday, which saw the participation of more than 40 countries, to discuss Israel's decision last week to remove Mr. Arafat "in a manner and at a time of its choosing."
Explaining his veto, United States Ambassador John Negroponte said the resolution was flawed since it failed to include "a robust condemnation of acts of terrorism, an explicit condemnation of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigade as organizations responsible for acts of terrorism, and a call for the dismantlement of an infrastructure which supports these terror operations wherever located." He said Israel must also fulfil its commitments, including improving the daily lives of the Palestinians.
Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan said his country co-sponsored the resolution because it wanted to send a clear signal to all concerned that any contemplated act of deportation of Mr. Arafat "would be illegal and inconsistent with the objectives of the Middle East peace process." He also reaffirmed Pakistan's opposition to "terrorism in all forms and manifestations anywhere in the world."
Fellow co-sponsor Syria regretted the United States veto, which only complicated an already extremely complicated situation, Deputy Permanent Representative Fayssal Mekdad said. He added that Israel had also tried to expel the Palestinian people from their land and Syria held Israel responsible for scuttling the Middle East peace process.
For its part, Bulgaria abstained as it does whenever there is no unanimity on the Council, Ambassador Stefan Tafrov said. German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger said his country's abstention did not mean that it had changed its opposition to the expulsion of Mr. Arafat and he called on Israel to revoke its decision. United Kingdom Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said his country considered the text of the resolution as insufficiently balanced and therefore unhelpful in implementing the Road Map but he urged Israel not to misunderstand the international rejection of its decision in principle to remove Mr. Arafat.