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PNA Holds US Responsible for Consequences of Veto

PNA Holds US Responsible for Consequences of Its Veto

US Veto a ‘License’ for Israel to Kill Arafat: Palestinian Chief Negotiator

The Palestine National Authority (PNA) said Tuesday that the United States has lost credibility as an honest broker in the Middle East peace process and slammed the US veto, which aborted a draft resolution condemning Israeli government’s decision on Thursday to “remove” President Yasser Arafat, as a “US License” to Israel to kill the veteran leader.

The PNA described Tuesday as a “Black Day” for the UN legitimacy.

The United States vetoed an Arab-backed UN resolution Tuesday demanding that Israel halt threats to expel President Arafat from the West Bank, because it did not contain a condemnation of what it described as “terrorist” groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Brigades.

Eleven of the 15 Security Council nations voted in favor of the resolution, while Britain, Germany and Bulgaria abstained.

Syria, the only Arab nation on the Security Council, had been pressing for a vote since last week’s decision by Israel’s security Cabinet to “remove” Arafat.

It was the 77th time since the creation of the United Nations in 1948 that the United States has vetoed a resolution. The last time, on December 20, was also a resolution condemning Israel for killing international aid workers.

At a council meeting Monday, virtually all the more than 40 speakers condemned Israel’s threats against Arafat.

“The United States has lost credibility as an honest broker in the Middle East peace process” and shifted from biased policies to Israel to adopting Israeli positions completely, Palestinian UN observer Nasser al-Kidwa said.

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Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian UN observer, said the United States had lost its credibility to play an honest broker in the Middle East peace process. He warned that "serious consequences may follow the use of this veto, and the United States will bear the consequences for that."

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said it was a “black day in the history of the United Nations, the Security Council, international treaties and conventions and diplomatic relations.”

Erakat added that the US veto was “a license” for the Israeli government to go ahead with its assassination attempts on the life of President Arafat.

“We hope the Israeli government won’t understand the killing of the Arab draft resolution by the United States as a license or a green light to kill President Arafat or exile him,” he added.

President Arafat’s media adviser Nabil Abu Rudeinah condemned the US veto, saying, “It encourages Israel to continue its aggression and (military) escalation” against the Palestinian people.

The US veto “does not help the efforts that are exerted to implement the (US-sponsored and Quartet-adopted) roadmap (plan to Middle East peace),” he said.

Syria’s UN Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad expressed regret at the vote, calling the resolution “highly balanced,” and noting that most of the language came from previous resolutions that had been adopted by the Security Council.

"The fact that the US delegation used its veto is something extremely regrettable," he said. "It only complicates a situation in the Middle East that is already very complicated."

Germany’s envoy Gunter Pleuger said the council was "not living up to its responsibilities." He called on Israel to revoke its decision.

International criticism against Israel mounted after Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that killing Arafat was “definitely” an option, although the foreign minister later backtracked on the remark.

Immediately after the vote, America’s UN Ambassador John Negroponte reiterated that the United States does not support the elimination or forced exile of Arafat and believes that his diplomatic isolation is the best course.

He said the United States was forced to use its veto because the resolution failed to name groups such as Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which have claimed credit for numerous suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis.

"The Palestinian Authority must take action to remove the threat of terrorist groups," Negroponte said.

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