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Saturday December 15 8:25 AM ET

Israel Lauds, Palestinians Slam U.S. Veto of UN Draft

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel welcomed, but the Palestinians condemned, a United States veto on Saturday that killed a U.N. resolution urging international monitors in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (news - web sites).

The resolution, sponsored by Egypt and Tunisia and amended by France, encouraged ``all concerned to establish a monitoring mechanism'' to help ease conditions in the West Bank and Gaza. It condemned all terrorist acts, executions without trial, excessive use of force and the destruction of property.

Regretting the veto, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said his country felt the resolution had been balanced and designed to stop the deterioration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and promote peaceful efforts to curb the fighting.

The U.S. used its veto power for the second time this year to dismiss the proposal in the U.N. Security Council on grounds that it was biased against Israel and would not help promote the peace process shattered by 15 months of deadly clashes.

The vote in the 15-member U.N. council was 12 to 1 with Britain and Norway abstaining. The other two European Union (news - web sites) members, France and Ireland, were among the ``yes'' votes.

The Palestinian Authority (news - web sites) ``strongly condemned'' the U.S. veto of the draft and said it feared a deterioration in the region.

``The American position will not be useful to the peace process and establishing quiet in the region,'' Nabil Abu Rdainah, adviser to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat (news - web sites), told Reuters.

Raanan Gissin, an adviser to Israeli Prime Ariel Sharon (news - web sites), praised the stand taken by United States.

``The United States is honest and follows its own policy announcement that you can't on the one hand support terrorist activity instigated by the Palestinian Authority and at the same time fight against terror in Afghanistan (news - web sites),'' he said.

``Monitors have never stopped terror activities. They have only complicated the situation,'' Gissin said.

EGYPT WANTS MORE U.S. EFFORTS

Egypt's Maher said Egypt hoped the decision to use its veto power meant Washington would exert genuine efforts outside the Security Council to stop Israel's ``aggression'' against the Palestinians.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte told the council in a lengthy debate the resolution aimed was to ``isolate politically one of the parties to the conflict through an attempt to throw the weight of the Council behind the other party.''

Negroponte said it was fundamentally flawed because it did not even mention ``recent acts of terrorism'' against Israelis or those responsible for them.

The resolution also sought to bolster Arafat days after Israel severed ties with him and branded him ``irrelevant'' in response to the spate of attacks on Israelis this month.

In March, the United States vetoed a similar resolution that called for an observer force which Israel opposes.

At least 777 Palestinians and 233 Israelis have been killed since the uprising against Israeli occupation flared in September last year after U.S.-mediated peace efforts collapsed.

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