hardly influential on U.S. policy toward the Middle East either at the
UN or in Washington (and about who is in control). No doubt Israel is
anti-UN and believes the UN is anti-Israel, but Israel's existence owes
much to the UN partition plan of 1947, and Israel also owes much to the
U.S. veto power in the UNSC in the 60 decades since.
U.S. Withdraws Draft On Mideast at U.N.*
Move Seen as Blow to U.S. Ambassador
By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 1, 2007; A09
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 31 -- On Thursday evening, Zalmay Khalilzad
the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
had all but persuaded the U.N. Security Council
to adopt a resolution endorsing the agreement Israelis and Palestinians
struck in Annapolis
this week to work toward a political settlement before the end of 2008.
But Friday, the Bush administration did an about-face, abruptly
withdrawing the text while Israeli diplomats reiterated their
decades-long opposition to a U.N. role in Middle East
The blunder, an embarrassing footnote to President Bush
efforts on Middle East, also represented a personal blow to Khalilzad,
who has generally won praise among foreign delegates here and in
Washington for putting a more collegial face on U.S. diplomacy at the
United Nations than did his more combative predecessor, John R. Bolton
officials, who said Khalilzad has a history of diplomatic freelancing
and that he had stumbled into his current predicament by failing to
adequately consult the Israelis or his boss, Secretary of State
Khalilzad flew to Washington, where he met with Rice.
"It doesn't look good. I agree with that," Khalilzad said in a telephone
interview from Washington late Friday.
Khalilzad said he had consulted "very closely" with Rice before
presenting the draft resolution and that his staff had kept the Israeli
mission fully informed of U.S. plans. Khalilzad said that Israeli
leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
became "very upset" when they saw a copy of the text Thursday night. He
said they had no problem with the language of the resolution but that
they expressed concern "that it would give the U.N. a role" in the peace
"Ultimately, we agreed with their judgment," Khalilzad said.
The United States hosted representatives of 44 countries, including
Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
at a peace conference this week in Annapolis. The two leaders agreed to
try to conclude an agreement creating a Palestinian state before the end
of Bush's tenure. U.S. officials debated whether to follow up by
pressing the U.N. Security Council to memorialize the agreement with a
formal resolution or an informal statement of support.
Khalilzad said a decision had been made to float the U.S. resolution in
a closed-door council session Thursday. He told reporters after the
meeting that the draft had received a "very positive" reaction from the
council's members. But after hearing initial reservations from the
Israeli mission, he said he would have to consult with Israeli and
Palestinian officials overnight.
Abbas praised the effort, telling reporters in Tunis
on Friday that the U.S. draft was "among the signals about the U.S.
seriousness" in the Middle East peace effort.
But Israeli officials disagreed. Dan Gillerman, Israel's
ambassador to the United Nations, quickly distanced himself from the
plan, telling reporters Thursday evening that he had not been fully
briefed on the contents of the resolution. "At the moment, I know very
little about it," he said.
Khalilzad's deputy, Alejandro D. Wolff, was given the thankless task of
announcing the U.S. reversal outside the Security Council chamber Friday
afternoon. Wolff said the United States had decided to withdraw the
draft resolution, because there was "some unease with the idea" and that
the focus should be on "the potentially historic outcome that will
emerge from the Annapolis process."
The State Department concurred. "You know, you take time to consider
things, and you take a look at all the positive effects that have come
out of Annapolis, and I'm not sure that we saw the need to add anything
else," spokesman Sean McCormack
The United States has traditionally deferred to Israel's requests to
exclude the U.N. Security Council from Middle East peace efforts. It is
highly unusual for the United States to propose action in the council
without prior detailed discussions with the Israeli government.
Israeli officials said today that they see no need for a U.N. role in
the peace process. "It's not the proper venue," said Daniel Carmon,
Israel's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, according to the
"We feel that the appreciation of Annapolis has other means of being
expressed than in a resolution."
But the U.S. retreat disappointed other council members. "We understand
the reasons put forward by the United States" for withdrawing the draft,
said Jean-Maurice Ripert, France's
ambassador. "But we remain convinced that the support of the
international community to the process initiated in Annapolis remains
In the end, the Security Council agreed to instruct its temporary
president, Marty Natalegawa of Indonesia
to give a statement to reporters summarizing the meeting. He said the
council shares "an overwhelming sense of welcome to what has happened in
Annapolis," and sees "the need to encourage the parties concerned to
follow diligently the joint understanding that was reached."
/Staff writer Glenn Kessler in Washington contributed to this report./