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U.N. Security Council condemns Israeli siege

Israeli U.N. Ambassador Yehuda Lancry, left, listens to Algerian U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali, right, during Monday night's debate.
Israeli U.N. Ambassador Yehuda Lancry, left, listens to Algerian U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali, right, during Monday night's debate.

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CNN's Ben Wedeman says the latest siege by Israeli troops is rebuilding support among Ramallah residents for Yasser Arafat (September 23)
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CNN's Matthew Chance examines whether or not Israel's containment of Arafat has disrupted any hope for Palestinian reform (September 23)
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations Security Council early Tuesday approved a resolution condemning Israel's siege of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah and calling for its end. The United States abstained, calling the resolution "one-sided."

Fourteen members of the Security Council voted for the European-compromise version of the text that tread the ground between an Arab-sponsored draft and an American proposal.

In the end, the United States balked when the resolution wasn't going to name Palestinian militant groups or include Israeli security issues and concerns.

"The resolution that we've adopted this evening was flawed, in our view, in that it failed to explicitly condemn the terrorist groups and those who provide them with political cover, support and safe haven and perpetuating conflict in the Middle East," said U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte after the resolution passed.

"Those responsible for killing civilians obstruct the Quartet's efforts and the Palestinian reform prospects, and they are known groups -- Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade," Negroponte continued, saying "these groups have openly claimed credit for scores of terrorist bombings, for many deaths and injuries."

The "Quartet" -- made up of U.S., U.N., Russian and European officials -- have outlined a plan aimed at bringing Middle East peace.

Negroponte said the Security Council cannot seriously claim to address Israeli and Palestinian issues without taking a clear stand against the groups that commit terrorist acts.

In the past the United States has often used its veto power to scuttle resolutions critical of Israel, but not in this case.

In a rare public rebuke of the Israeli government, the United States on Monday introduced a draft resolution to the Security Council, condemning Israel for its siege and demolition of Arafat's compound.

The draft called on Israel to "cease measures in and around Ramallah, including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure, that aggravate the situation and that do not contribute to progress on comprehensive Palestinian civil and security reforms." The draft also called for the punishment of Palestinians who plot suicide bombings.

The siege and demolition in Ramallah followed two suicide bombings that killed six Israelis and a Scottish student last week.

Starting last Friday, Israeli forces demolished large sections of Arafat's compound.

Israel wants about 50 wanted Palestinian militants it says are inside the compound. Arafat has said there are no militants in the building and he is not handing over any Palestinians to Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told CNN Sunday that since the Palestinian Authority refused to police its own people, Israel's hand was forced.

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