Emergency UN Debate on Gaza Fails to Reach Resolution

NEW YORK - An emergency United Nations Security Council debate on the IDF incursion into the Gaza Strip, sparked by the abduction Gilad Shalit, ended late Friday without a resolution.

The debate, which had been requested by Arab nations to demand the Council order a halt to the operation, saw Palestinian and Israeli diplomats trade accusations, and the U.S. accuse Syria and Iran of promoting terrorism.

The Palestinians accused Israel of launching a premeditated military assault to sabotage Palestinian unity and collectively punish and terrorize hundreds of thousands of civilians. Israel countered that Gaza has become "a terror base," actively supported by the Hamas-led government.

Palestinian UN Observer Riyad Mansour said Israel's air and ground assault on Gaza using warplanes, tank artillery bombardment and shelling from naval units was "collectively punishing and terrorizing the Palestinian civilian population ... [which] is now under complete siege."

Israel's deputy UN ambassador Daniel Carmon disagreed, saying Israel responded to the capture of Shalit "after long weeks of Israeli restraint in the face of numerous attempted kidnappings and unceasing Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip that have targeted civilians, schools and homes" and traumatized children.

He said the IDF's presence is limited "to a very small area in southern Gaza," with the sole aim of preventing Shalit from being smuggled outside the Gaza Strip. "Its objective is not punishment or retaliation," Carmon stressed.

But Mansour accused Israel of planning "a major invasion" of Gaza and mobilizing troops before Shalit was captured on June 25 "to sabotage the recent agreement between Abbas' Fatah Party and the Hamas-led government.

Israel's goal, he said, is "to ultimately cause the complete collapse" of the Palestinian Authority so Israel can say it has no "partner for peace" and go ahead with unilateral measures.

Carmon countered that Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip last August with the hope of "re-energizing the peace process."

"Instead, the response was ... an increase in terror attacks," he said. "Gaza is now a terror base, actively supported by the elected Hamas government. Israel is under attack day in and day out."

Mansour called on the council to condemn the Israeli aggression, to order an immediate cessation of hostilities, and demand the release of 64 Hamas officials, arrested by Israel.

But no resolution was circulated to council members Friday, apparently because of U.S. opposition to any council action.