A reminder that Annapolis buried the Quartet, did not mention any UN resolutions, ignored international law, contained no provision for follow-up, and relegated the EU, UN, and the Arabs to the role of observers of a pageant organized and directed solely by the US and staged at US discretion. This development in New York suggests, unsurprisingly, that Israel wants to keep it that way.
US Withdraws Mideast Resolution
By EDITH M. LEDERER
Associated Press Writer
3:21 AM EST, December 1, 2007
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 -- 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."
"We were not the only ones to object," Carmon added, saying the Americans had told the Israelis that the Palestinians also objected. Arab diplomats confirmed the Palestinians were not consulted but said they supported the draft.
Abbas told reporters in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, on Friday, that while he didn't know the details of the draft resolution it was a sign of the United States' seriousness, which he also perceived at the Annapolis conference.
"This means, if what we have learned is verified, that there are serious steps that speak to the existence of an American position supporting the negotiations," Abbas said.
Khalilzad was in Washington on Friday for previously scheduled meetings and it was left to U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff to announce the U.S. decision to withdraw the resolution.
He said the U.S. had held intensive consultations over the past few days "and the upshot was that there were some unease with the idea" of a resolution.
"The focus, we all realized again, should be placed and remain on Annapolis and the understanding that was reached there," Wolff said.
In Washington, the State Department said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had decided a resolution was unnecessary.
"We have looked at this and, at the end of the day, the secretary believes that the positive results of Annapolis speak for themselves and there is really no reason to gild the lily," spokesman Sean McCormack said.
Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe Rice's decision to withdraw the draft document, said there were several concerns about the resolution, including the failure to consult the Israelis and Palestinians on the language and the possibility that some on the Security Council might try to add anti-Israeli language to it.
Qatar's U.N. Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser, the only Arab member on the Security Council, had said Thursday he was "happy with the language" in the U.S. draft and "happy that the council is dealing with this issue."
But it was not to be.
Instead of a resolution, Indonesia's U.N. Ambassador Marty Natalegawa, the current council president, summed up the council's feelings, telling reporters there was "an overwhelming sense of welcome to what has happened in Annapolis."
Council members are "welcoming, supporting and encouraging the parties to diligently follow up," he said.
"There is an absolutely clear message of council unity in supporting Annapolis conference and its achievements, and not to be overly preoccupied at this time on the format or the form of the council's response," Natalegawa said.
Associated Press Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report