Groups slam Bush on U.N. resolution

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish groups expressed disappointment in the Bush administration for failing to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution on the Gaza Strip war.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee issued a statement Friday expressing "its disappointment with the U.S. administration for succumbing to pressure exerted by Arab states and agreeing to bring this vote to the U.N. Security Council — a message contrary to the steadfast and overwhelming support expressed this week by the United States Congress and dozens of elected officials from across the country." The statement came a day after the U.N. Security Council approved the resolution in a 14-0 vote.

The United States abstained, and failed to impose the veto it wields as one of five permanent members. Israel ignored the resolution, although it is binding, principally because the measure calls for an "immediate" ceasefire, and Israel is determined not to fall back until Hamas’ capacity to launch rockets and smuggle weapons has been destroyed.

Direct AIPAC attacks on administration policy are rare; the group e-mailed the statement to reporters, but did not post it on its website.

The Anti-Defamation League also expressed "surprise" at the Bush administration’s failure to veto the resolution. "At a time when Israel is engaged in defending its citizens against the brutality of Hamas terrorism, which has unleashed an outpouring of anti-Semitic rhetoric, threats and intimidation and violence in the U.S. and around the world, we expected the administration to abide by its longstanding commitment to fighting global terrorism and the scourge of anti-Semitism and Israel’s role on the front lines of that fight," the ADL said in a statement.

The American Jewish Committee did not issue a statement, but posted an analysis on its Web site that noted positive and negative aspects to the resolution.

Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, said the United States abstained because the resolution’s call for an "immediate" ceasefire would hamper Egyptian efforts to broker an end to fighting that would meet Israel’s demands. Nonetheless, Rice said Friday, there were elements of the resolution that were positive.

"For the Council to address that there should be a condemnation of all acts of terrorism, we thought was an important feature," she said. "For the Council to express that a ceasefire, while there’s a desire for an immediate ceasefire, it needs to be a durable ceasefire and one that will be fully respected. For the Council to express that this all began with the refusal of Hamas to actually extend the tahadiya (cease-fire) that Egypt had negotiated before, we thought these were important points, and given the situation in Gaza, that it was acceptable for the U.N. to speak."

The Web site of the conservative Weekly Standard cited "well-informed sources" who said that Rice favored voting for the resolution. The report also said that Vice President Dick Cheney favored vetoing it. Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, brokered a compromise that President Bush ordered: abstain, but do not veto, the Standard reported.

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