UNITED NATIONS - Because of Israeli objections, the United States suddenly withdrew a U.N. resolution endorsing this week's agreement by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to reach a Mideast peace settlement â€” even though the measure had overwhelming Security Council support.
The U.S. about-face in less than 24 hours on Friday surprised many U.N. diplomats and highlighted Israel's difficult relations with the United Nations, which it contends is anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. But what surprised U.N. diplomats most was that the U.S. didn't consult Israel, one of its closest allies, before introducing the draft resolution on Thursday afternoon.
With virtually every other Mideast resolution, the U.S. has consulted Israel in advance, but on Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad first presented it at a closed council meeting.
As he left, he welcomed the "very positive" response from council members but told reporters he needed to consult with the Israelis and Palestinians on the text to ensure that the resolution was what they wanted.
It clearly was not what Israel wanted as a first step to support the agreement that emerged at the U.S.-sponsored Mideast conference in Annapolis, Md. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to try to reach a peace settlement by the end of 2008.
Well-informed diplomats said Israel didn't want a resolution because it would bring the Security Council, which it distrusts, into the fledgling negotiations with the Palestinians.
The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Khalilzad introduced the draft resolution not only without consulting the Israelis and Palestinians but without getting broad support from President Bush's administration.
"It's not the proper venue," Israel's deputy ambassador Daniel Carmon told reporters after Friday's council meeting. "We feel that the appreciation of Annapolis has other means of being expressed than in a resolution."
Why don't the Israelis want a UN resolution on Annapolis? Because they want to stay as far as possible from the solutions to the conflict that are most legitimate in international law, namely the ones contained in UN Resolution 242. As always, Israel gets its special treatment and dictates the US position in the United Nations. So while there is broad international consensus on the conflict, Israel seeks to escape it, because it can.