Tags: gaza | israel | united | nation

Palestinians Vow to Turn Up U.N. Pressure on Israel

Saturday, 10 Jan 2009 11:48 AM

By Stewart Stogel

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UNITED NATIONS -- If the fighting in war-torn Gaza does not end soon, senior Palestinian sources tell Newsmax they may seek to re-convene an emergency meeting of the Security Council "as early as next week."

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told Newsmax that his government was prepared to keep the pressure on Jerusalem: "If the fighting continues, we are prepared to bring all the foreign ministers back to New York to deal with the issue."

On Thursday evening, the council voted 14-0-1 to "demand" that both Israel and Hamas (though not specifically named) cease hostilities "immediately."

Both Hamas and Israeli officials labeled the council demands as "unrealistic," and the clashes entered their third week.

The meeting on Thursday capped four days of intensive consultations by more than 16 foreign ministers, including senior officials from the U.S., UK, France, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was said "to have been blocked," presumably by the White House, for voting in favor of the Thursday evening resolution.

"She (Rice) came to me and said, 'Sorry guys, I have just been given new instructions not to vote for the new resolution,'" explained Maliki. He said he assumed the call to abstain came from President George W. Bush, who had been on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The U.S. was the lone abstention in the vote, and as such it allowed the British-sponsored resolution to be adopted. It could have vetoed the British move, but didn't.

Maliki went on to call Rice's speech in the council meeting "confusing" and blamed the shift in U.S. policy to ongoing changes inside the White House, which seemed to have been the last-minute lobbying target of officials both in Jerusalem and Capitol Hill.

Israel's U.N. mission stood in silence during the council gathering, offering no comment before or after the resolution passed.

"What could they say? What could they say? There was nothing for them to say, " said Maliki.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has been a frequent of Israel's actions, again weighed in with another phone call to Olmert on Friday.

Ban is said to have expressed his "disappointment" with Israel' s continuing military campaign, stressing that such was actions were in direct "disregard" of the council's decision.

The U.N. chief is due to travel to the region next week, though U.N. and Palestinian sources tell Newsmax it is "not likely" that Ban will seek to visit the Gaza Strip.

Regarding his next move, Maliki confided that since the council has now issued a formal, legally binding resolution demanding a cease-fire, it is "very possible" that a new resolution containing the threat of (economic-political) sanctions on Israel could be circulated.

Such an action, if it comes, may prove problematical for the Bush White House, though it is assumed Washington would veto such a move.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad will leave office at the end of next week, leaving American diplomacy in the hands of Deputy Ambassador Alex Wolff, who is likely to remain as a caretaker until newly nominated successor Susan Rice is confirmed by the Senate. Confirmation may not come until mid-February.

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