Resolution condemning killing of Hamas leader defeated by US veto in Security Council

UN Security Council in session

25 March 2004 – The United Nations Security Council today failed to adopt a resolution that would have condemned the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, with the United States vetoing what it called a one-sided text.

The resolution, sponsored by Algeria and Libya, garnered 11 tallies in favour, with the United States casting the sole vote against it. Germany, Romania and the United Kingdom abstained.

Speaking before the vote, Ambassador John D. Negroponte of the United States explained that his country opposed the resolution because it was "silent about the terrorist atrocities committed by Hamas," did not reflect the realities of the conflict in the Middle East and "because it will not further the goals of peace and security in the region."

Ambassador Negroponte said the United States was "deeply troubled" by the killing of Sheikh Yassin. "Israel's action has escalated tensions in Gaza and the region, and could set back our efforts to resume progress towards peace," he said.

But he added that events must be considered in their context and the Council "does nothing to contribute to a peaceful settlement when it condemns one party's actions and turns a blind eye to everything else occurring in the region."

Following the vote, Algeria's Ambassador, Abdallah Baali, said the result was as if the Security Council concluded that it had no say in the terrible tragedy unfolding in that part of the world. "By not condemning the extrajudicial killing of Sheikh Yassin, the Security Council is not sending the right message to the world which has unanimously condemned this crime," he said.

Ambassador Baali added that the Council was not sending the right message to those who sincerely believed that it was the custodian of international law. "But it is certainly sending the wrong message to Israel, whose representative boasted two days ago in this very chamber about the crime and vowed to continue the unlawful policy of extrajudicial killings," he said.

If adopted, the text would have condemned "the most recent extrajudicial execution committed by Israel, the occupying Power," that killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin along with six other Palestinians outside a mosque Monday in Gaza City, and called for a complete end to such killings.

The draft expressed the Council's grave concern at the continued deterioration of the situation on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, as a result of the escalation of violence and attacks, and condemned all terrorist attacks against any civilians as well as all acts of violence and destruction.

The draft also called on all sides to immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of acts of violence, including all acts of terrorism, provocation, incitement and destruction.

In a related provision, the Council would have called for the end to all illegal measures and practices and for respect for and adherence to international humanitarian law. Both parties would have been called on to fulfil their obligations under the Road Map and to work with the Quartet to implement it, in order to achieve the vision of the two States living side-by-side in peace and security.

The Road Map is a plan sponsored by the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States that calls for a series of parallel and reciprocal steps leading to two States living side by side in peace by 2005.

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