US vetoes UN resolution condemning Israel on Gaza

 
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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 11 (Reuters) The United States today vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning an Israeli attack in Gaza that killed 18 Palestinian civilians and urging a quick withdrawal of Israeli forces from the area.

Nine of the council's 15 members voted for the measure, while four abstained: Britain, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia.

But the ''no'' vote cast by US Ambassador John Bolton -- his second since he arrived at UN headquarters a little over a year ago -- was enough to kill the resolution.

The measure, backed by Arab, Islamic and nonaligned nations and formally proposed by Qatar, would have called on the Palestinian Authority to ''take immediate and sustained action to bring an end to violence, including the firing of rockets on Israeli territory.'' It would have urged the international community to take steps to stabilize the situation, revive the West Asia peace process and consider ''the possible establishment of an international mechanism'' for the protection of civilians.

It also would have condemned Israeli military operations in Gaza and called on the Jewish state to withdraw all troops from Gaza and end its operations in all Palestinian lands.

Seven children and four women were among the dead in the Israeli shelling, for which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has apologized, calling it an accidental ''technical failure'' by the Israeli military.

But Palestinian leaders have called it a massacre.

Bolton said Washington regretted the loss of life in Wednesday's artillery attack in Beit Hanoun but ''we are disturbed at the language of the resolution which is in many places biased against Israel and politically motivated.'' The suggestion of a mechanism to protect civilians would raise false hopes, he said, adding that he was disturbed the measure made no mention of the Palestinians' elected Hamas government, which refuses to acknowledge Israel's right to exist or renounce violence.

Reuters AB GC2337

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