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U.S. vetoes U.N. resolution on Israeli wall
Negroponte says measure by Syria 'was unbalanced'

Associated Press
Originally published October 15, 2003

UNITED NATIONS - The United States vetoed yesterday a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israel for building a barrier that cuts into the West Bank.

The United States was the only country to vote against, using its veto as one of five permanent members of the council. Four of the 15 members of the Security Council abstained: Bulgaria, Cameroon, Germany and Britain.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the resolution "was unbalanced" and "did not further the goals of peace and security in the region."

The vote came after a fierce daylong debate that saw several countries portray the wall as racist and colonialist, a blatant land-grab, and an overreaction that would turn some parts of the Palestinian territories into "open-air prisons."

The United States suggested an alternate draft that would have called on all parties in the Middle East struggle to dismantle terrorist groups. But Syria went ahead with the vote.

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad, whose country is the only Arab nation on the 15-member council, introduced the draft resolution Thursday on behalf of the 22-member Arab League.

The request for Security Council action came a week after the Israeli Cabinet approved an extension of the barrier that would sweep around Jewish settlements deep in the West Bank.

Before last week's decision, the barrier - a network of fences, walls, razor wires and trenches - had largely kept to the 1967 Israel-West Bank dividing line known as the "Green Line," diverting in some places a few miles into the West Bank to enclose Jewish settlements.

Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian U.N. observer, repeatedly referred to the barrier as an "expansionist wall" that only brought more suffering to Palestinians.

Copyright 2003


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