Israel Disappointed by UN Resolution That Avoids Key Demands on Gaza

Officials dismayed by Bush's refusal to veto decision, Sarkozy's broken promise to prevent its passage.

Israel was disappointed by the UN's resolution passed early Friday morning calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. Officials expressed additional disappointment with U.S. President George Bush's refusal to veto the decision as well as by French President Nicolas Sarkozy's broken promise to prevent the proposal from being finalized. In addition, Jerusalem was not happy with the resolution's failure to incorporate the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces Gilad Shalit from his captors in the Gaza Strip.

Officials in Israel estimated over a week ago that the UN's Security Council's decision on Gaza is a matter of time. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the cabinet during the meeting in which it decided to go ahead with the ground operation in Gaza that Israel will have one week before the Security Council calls for a cease-fire. During the past week the only proposal made to the Security Council regarding the situation in the Gaza Strip was that presented by temporary council member Libya, a proposal whose extreme and anti-Israeli rhetoric did not receive the support of many members.

But a delegation sent to New York, including eight Arab foreign ministers working in coordination with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, applied diplomatic pressure on the U.S., France and the U.K. to draft their own proposal calling on combatants to end the fighting. At a certain stage Livni was considering traveling to New York in a bid to counter the Arab diplomats initiative, but after consulting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert the idea was abandoned because they said they did not want to give credence to the Security Council's decision.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Olmert that if Israel accepts a temporary cease-fire it would help the U.S. defer the Security Council's decision. The prime minister's response to her suggestion was negative.

For many days Israel managed to thwart the passing of the resolution, but on Thursday the U.S. passed a message to Jerusalem saying it could not continue to remain passive and would draft a proposal together with the U.K. and France. Rice also specifically told Israel the U.S. would not use its veto power. Livni then delivered Israel's list of demands for a cease-fire to the U.S., asking for the cessation of arms smuggling from Egypt to Gaza, placing responsibility for the outbreak of hostilities on Hamas, asking for Shalit's release and dropping demands that the IDF withdraws from the Gaza Strip.

Israel received word late Thursday night that the vote may be postponed by a day based on a promise by Sarkozy to delay it if Israel agrees to the joint French-Egyptian cease-fire proposal.

However, shortly afterward, France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner ignored Sarkozy's request to delay the vote and presented it to the council a few hours later. After the decision was passed, Israel said it rejected the Security Council's proposal, saying it was not practical and accusing Palestinians of violating its conditions.