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24 March 2004

U.N. Must Condemn Hamas Terrorism as Well as Israeli Assassination, March 23, 2004

(Ambassador Negroponte's UNSC remarks March 23)

The U.S. will not support any U.N. Security Council statement condemning Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin that does not include a condemnation of Hamas terrorist attacks, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said March 23.

In a speech during a public Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, Negroponte said, "the killing of Sheikh Yassin has escalated tensions in Gaza and the greater Middle East and sets back our effort to resume progress towards peace."

However, "Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was the leader of a terrorist organization, one which has proudly taken credit for indiscriminate attacks against civilians," Negroponte said.

The Security Council "must not remain silent about the actions of a terrorist group that is dedicated to thwarting the Quartet roadmap, which this council endorsed," the ambassador said.

The meeting was held at the request of the Arab Group of states in response to Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza. Over 40 nations and representatives of organizations participated in the debate. At the end of the session, the council was unable to agree on a presidential statement and negotiations continued in private on a text.

Talking with journalists outside the council chambers, Negroponte said that the United States is "deeply troubled by this action by the Government of Israel. . . . On the other hand, when it came to discussing presidential statements, we felt that there has to be an adequate context and balance."

"Unfortunately, some of the members of the council were not willing in the same statement that expressed concern about this action against Sheikh Yassin . . . to at the same time condemn the terrorist acts by the Hamas organization," he said.

"It has been a consistent position of the United States that ... we don't think it's right to adopt unbalanced resolutions with respect to the Middle East situation," Negroponte said.

Following is the text of Negroponte's statement in the Security Council:
(begin text)

USUN PRESS RELEASE
March 23, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statement by Ambassador John D. Negroponte, United States Representative to the United Nations, on the Situation in the Middle East, in the Security Council, March 23, 2004

Thank you, Mr. President.

The killing of Sheikh Yassin has escalated tensions in Gaza and the greater Middle East, and sets back our effort to resume progress towards peace.

However, events must be considered in their context and as we consider the killing of Sheikh Yassin, we must keep in mind the facts. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was the leader of a terrorist organization, one which has proudly taken credit for indiscriminate attacks against civilians, including most recently an attack last week in the Port of Ashdod, which left 10 Israelis dead. He preached hatred, and glorified suicide bombings of buses, restaurants, and cafes. Yassin was opposed to the existence of the State of Israel, and actively sought to undermine a two-state solution in the Middle East.

This Security Council should not, and the United States will not, support initiatives which ignore this reality. The Security Council must not remain silent about the actions of a terrorist group that is dedicated to thwarting the Quartet roadmap, which this Council endorsed in Resolution 1515.

The Quartet envoys met yesterday in Cairo, and at this critical juncture, the international community must remain focused on how to resume progress towards peace. There should be no detours: One-sided, unbalanced action by the Security Council can only detract from Quartet efforts.

The United States remains committed to President Bush's June 24, 2002 vision of two states. Working in tandem with our Quartet partners, we call on both sides to meet their responsibilities and obligations to fulfill the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

Thank you, Mr. President.

(end text)

 

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