American pressure thwarts UN censure of Gaza Strip blockade
By Shlomo Shamir and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents, and News Agencies
21/01/08 ” Haaretz.” — – -The United Nations Security Council will not approve a resolution condemning Israel over the closure of the Gaza Strip, due to pressure applied by the United States.
The council will instead issue a Presidential Statement on the matter when it meets to discuss the situation in Gaza.
According to a draft of the statement obtained by Haaretz, the Security Council will express “its deep concern about the deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
“The Security Council also expresses concern in particular about the steep deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, due to the continued closure of all of the Gaza Strip border crossings and the recent decision by the Israeli government to reduce fuel supplies, to cut off electric power, and to prevent the delivery of food and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip,” the draft says.
“The Security Council calls upon Israel to abide by its obligations under international law including humanitarian and human rights law and immediately cease all its illegal measures and practices against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip,” continued the draft statement.
Israel was deeply concerned by Arab states’ effort to win UN Security Council condemnation of the sanctions imposed by Jerusalem on the Gaza Strip, in response to the massive Qassam rocket fire southern Israeli communities have sustained in the past week.
Foreign Ministry Director-General Aaron Abramovich had instructed Israel’s delegation at the UN headquarters in New York to oppose any Security Council on Gaza, while “emphasizing the damage and suffering caused by the incessant firing of Qassam rockets.”
“A situation in which the Security Council debates the plight of the residents of Gaza, while completely ignoring the situation of Israelis living under the constant threat of Qassam rockets, is totally unacceptable,” Abramovich said.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday she had spoken to the Israeli officials and urged them to avert a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
“Nobody wants innocent Gazans to suffer and so we have spoken to the Israelis about the importance of not allowing a humanitarian crisis to unfold there,” Rice told reporters traveling with her to Berlin for a meeting on Iran.
Rice said ultimately Hamas was to blame for the situation in Gaza. She said the Israelis were dealing with an “intolerable” situation, with the firing of rockets and the anxiety and terror that came with that.
She said there needed to be creative solutions to the problem and referred to the Quartet’s suggestion to allow the Palestinian Authority to play a greater role at the crossings.
Ahmadinejad calls Mubarak for first time over Gaza situation
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad telephoned his Egyptian counterpart for the first time and discussed the situation in the Gaza strip in the latest sign of warming ties between the two long time Middle East rivals, the official Iranian News Agency reported Tuesday.
Ahmadinejad and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak discussed the crisis in Gaza and called for the lifting of the siege on Gaza and the dispatch of fuel and medicine to the Palestinians, the Egyptian state news agency confirmed.
This was the first time Iranian president had ever spoken by phone to his Egyptian counterpart and the call comes as Iran has been pushing for improving ties between the two countries which were severed in 1979.
Tehran cut diplomatic ties after Cairo signed a peace agreement with Israel and provided asylum for the deposed Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Egypt has always maintained that normal ties with Iran would come only after Iran stopped meddling in internal affairs of Arab countries.
Iran’s support for Iraqi Shiites, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestinian radical Hamas group has further deteriorated relations, resulting in very limited diplomatic contacts between the two countries.
Early this month, however, top level Iranian envoy Ali Larijani came to Cairo and met with Egyptian officials. His trip followed an exchange of visits by the countries’ deputy foreign ministers in September and October.
Ahmadinejad has repeatedly offered to restore ties, something Egypt says it is considering, while noting that full diplomatic relations could only be restored if Iran takes down a large mural of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s assassin, Khaled el-Islambouli, and change the name of a street honoring him.
The U.S. has repeatedly warned Arab countries of Iran’s designs on the region.
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