NEW YORK — The United States yesterday vetoed an Arab-backed resolution in the U.N. Security Council seeking to protect Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from expulsion by Israel, calling the text a “lopsided condemnation” of the Jewish state.
Eleven members of the 15-nation council voted for the resolution while Germany, Bulgaria and Britain abstained from the vote.
Council member Syria insisted on holding the vote yesterday afternoon, despite requests from some members for more time to form a consensus.
“This resolution did not take a clear stand against the actions of these terrorist groups, nor call for decisive action against them,” said U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte.
Mr. Negroponte was referring to groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
He added: “The Palestinian Authority must take action to remove the capability of extremist groups to conduct terrorist outrages.”
In Gaza City, Palestinians condemned the U.S. veto.
“This American veto can only encourage a military escalation by giving the Israeli government the feeling that it has an American green light for new anti-Palestinian aggressions,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, an adviser to Mr. Arafat, told Agence France-Presse.
Yesterday’s draft was officially co-sponsored by council members Syria and Pakistan. It was drafted by the Arab League on Friday, hours after the Israeli Security Cabinet voted expel Mr. Arafat without setting a date for his departure.
French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said Paris supported the resolution.
“We regret the outcome of this vote,” said the ambassador. “It is a seriously counterproductive result.”
On Monday, the council held a daylong, highly critical debate of Israel’s decision to expel Mr. Arafat. Nearly all of the three-dozen speakers condemned the decision
Yesterday’s discussion grew unusually rancorous when the Israeli and Palestinian representatives lobbed insults at each other.
“This is a debate that should never have taken place,” Dan Gillerman, Israel’s U.N. representative, told reporters.
Palestinian envoy Nasser al Kidwa reminded the council and all observers that yesterday was the 21st anniversary of the killing of thousands of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon.
The three-day massacre was carried out by Lebanese Christian militias then allied with the Israeli army. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a general at the time, commanded the Israeli forces in Lebanon.
In the Mideast, meanwhile, Israeli officials rebuffed Palestinian proposals for a new cease-fire, saying the military would not halt strikes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip until Palestinian security forces begin dismantling militant groups.
The Palestinian offer came in an interview on Israel Radio by Mr. Arafat’s national security adviser, Jibril Rajoub, who said that if Israel reined in its military, the Palestinian Authority would bring an end to terror attacks and work toward talks on a final peace settlement.
Israeli Justice Minister Yosef “Tommy” Lapid told the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem: “This is not the type of cease-fire which may entice us to change our policy.”