- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 16, 2001

NEW YORK The United States vetoed a Palestinian-backed resolution on the Mideast conflict yesterday, but stressed that it has not abandoned the vision of a Palestinian state living in peace with Israel.
"That vision remains valid, and my government is committed to doing all it can to make this vision a reality," U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte told the U.N. Security Council before casting the veto after a debate that dragged into the early hours.
"No one is working harder than we are to end the terror, violence and suffering that has afflicted the Israeli and Palestinian people for far too long," he added.
But violence has escalated despite a renewed U.S. peace effort, and the Palestinians are frustrated by what they view as U.S. support for Israel. The United States is Israel's closest ally on the council.
The Security Council resolution Mr. Negroponte vetoed would have condemned "acts of terror" against Israelis and Palestinians, demanded an end to nearly 15 months of Mideast violence and established a "monitoring mechanism" to bring in observers, which Israel opposes.
Mr. Negroponte said the resolution was aimed at isolating Israel politically, adding that it made no mention of the recent suicide bombings and attacks against Israel or the terrorist organizations responsible, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The resolution was supported by 12 of the 15 Security Council members, with Britain and Norway abstaining. The United States is one of the five permanent council members with veto power.
The Palestinian U.N. observer, Nasser Al-Kidwa, said the resolution failed "because of unreasonable American positions."
The Palestinians and their Arab supporters demanded an open council meeting and a resolution after Israel cut contacts with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and launched military strikes against Palestinian Authority targets. The strikes followed suicide attacks against Israelis, which Jerusalem blames on Mr. Arafat's failure to crack down on militants.
In the last three weeks, more than 60 Palestinians and nearly 40 Israelis have been killed despite an effort by the U.S. envoy, Gen. Anthony Zinni, to arrange a truce. The Palestinian toll included 29 assailants involved in the attacks on Israel.
In an address at the United Nations in November, President Bush pleased the Palestinians and the Arab world by calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.
Amid the most recent violence, Mr. Bush has urged Mr. Arafat to act against those responsible for the attacks but has not called for restraint from Israel. Mr. Al-Kidwa suggested the United States was applying a double standard.
"Is there a difference between our blood and the blood of the Israelis?" he asked. Palestinians wonder, he said, "why it is almost OK to kill Palestinians, including Palestinian children, and whenever an Israeli is dead, which we condemn, it's a different matter altogether."

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