Syria asks U.N. to condemn Israel
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Syria is calling on the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israel's airstrike near Damascus, labeling the attack a "flagrant Israeli military aggression" that threatened to sink the region into turmoil.
But Israel says the strike was in self-defense and released a video of the targeted training camp, which Tel Aviv says was used by the terrorist group behind a suicide bombing on Saturday in Haifa.
In other developments, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has declared a state of emergency in Palestinian areas and has also named an emergency Cabinet by decree.
The moves, in the wake of the Israeli military strike, are being seen as part of an attempt to stop new Israeli threats to expel the Palestinian leader after the Haifa suicide bombing which left 19 Israelis dead. (Full story)
The establishment of an emergency cabinet is essential for the Palestinian Authority to get control over a worsening security situation, said Palestinian Prime Minister-designee Ahmed Qorei who was appointed to head up the eight-member Cabinet. (Full story)
Though there has been no direct move against Arafat after the Haifa suicide attack, Israel struck what it said was an Islamic Jihad training camp near 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the Syrian capital.
The majority of the 15 U.N. Security Council members condemned both the airstrike at the alleged terrorist training camp at Ein Saheb and the Haifa bombing, with the exception of the United States which simply called on both sides to avoid heightening tensions.
During a special session which it requested only hours earlier, Syria tabled a draft resolution which "strongly condemns" Israel's strike and demands Israel desist from any action that could destabilize peace and security.
Fayssal Mekdad, Syria's U.N. Ambassador, called the raid an act of "unwarranted aggression" that violated the U.N. charter and the 1974 disengagement agreement that followed the 1973 Mideast war.
"Syria has exercised maximum self-restraint, because it recognizes that Israel is provoking pretexts here and there with a view to export its current domestic crisis to the entire region, thus exposing it to further escalation and volatility," Mekdad said.
"Syria is not incapable of establishing a resistance and deterrent balance that would force Israel to reconsider its calculations," he added.
Syria taken to task
A U.N. spokesman told CNN it was not likely that a vote on the resolution was imminent because Security Council members were awaiting responses from their respective capitals. No further action on the matter was scheduled, he said.
Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group which the U.S. State Department has designated a terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for the Haifa bombing.
Israeli U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman, invited by the United States to take a seat at the council table, called the airstrike that followed a "measured defensive operation" aimed at a training camp used by Islamic Jihad.
The airstrike, he said, was in accordance with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which allows nations a right of self-defense.
Gillerman said Islamic Jihad is headquartered in Damascus, and that the Syrian government directly encourages and supports it and other Palestinian militant groups.
The Israeli ambassador urged the council to support victims of terrorism -- like Israel -- rather than sponsors of it, such as Syria.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said he and other U.S. officials have repeatedly made clear to Syria that its support of terrorist groups is "unacceptable and intolerable."
The only other council member to take Syria to task was the United Kingdom. Though he did not mention Syria by name, UK Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry chided countries which permit terrorist groups to attack Israel.
The strike on Syria is the first Israeli attack there since the Yom Kippur war in 1973. Monday is the 30-year anniversary of that war, when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak earlier called on the U.S. to restrain Israel and expressed concern the attack could presage a new cycle of violence.
"We condemn what happened today concerning the aggression against a brotherly state under the pretext that some organizations exist there," Reuters quoted Mubarak as saying in a joint news conference with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Schroeder said regional peace efforts "become more complicated when ... the sovereignty of a country is violated. This is why the action in Syria is not acceptable."
And in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the terrorist attack on a Haifa restaurant and Israel's retaliatory strike on Syria have created "growing concern and worry."
On its Web site, the ministry said: "It is obvious that such actions will lead to widening of the geographic boundaries of the confrontation."
-- CNN Correspondents Fionnuala Sweeney, Brent Sadler and Rula Amin contributed to this report