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 Saturday, 21 December, 2002, 04:45 GMT
US vetoes anti-Israel UN resolution
Palestinians search through rubble of blown up building
Israel was criticised for blowing up the warehouse
The United States has vetoed a United Nations resolution condemning Israel for the deaths of three UN staff in Gaza and the West Bank.

Iain Hook's aid worker card
Hook had been helping Palestinians rebuild their homes
The resolution, sponsored by Syria, also censured the destruction of a UN World Food Programme warehouse in Gaza.

The US described the wording of the motion, sponsored by Syria, as "one-sided", and said that Syria had rejected negotiations.

"[They seemed] intent on condemning Israeli occupation than assuring the safety of United Nations personnel," US Ambassador John Negroponte said.

Syrian ambassador Mikhail Wehbe in turn said that he had accepted amendments from council members all week but that the US had been "attempting to equate the victim with the butcher".

Last week, Syria voted against a resolution condemning the November bomb attack in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, because it objected to Israel being identified as a victim.

Right of veto

The US had lobbied Syria to amend its draft to make more general criticisms of violence and remove specific condemnation of Israel.

It is the first time in a year that the US has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on the Middle East conflict.

Only the five permanent members of the Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - have a right of veto, and the four remaining members all voted in favour of the resolution.

British aid worker Iain Hook, 54, worked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and was shot dead in the Jenin refugee camp in late November.

The Israelis said that their soldiers mistook Hook's cellphone for a weapon, after gunmen entered a UN compound.

International criticism

However the UN says that Israeli soldiers in the area were under no threat at the time, and that the army delayed an ambulance, leaving Hook to bleed to death.

Two Palestinians working for UNRWA were shot dead in Gaza a week later.

Israel was also heavily criticised by the international community after it blew up a World Food Program warehouse storing more than 500 tonnes of food aid in the town of Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had said he was "gravely concerned" by the incident, in which Israeli security forces said they had been hunting a member of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad and had been given a warrant for the building.


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02 Dec 02 | Middle East
16 Nov 02 | issues
26 Sep 02 | Middle East
22 Nov 02 | Middle East
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