Tuesday, January 13, 2009
"I told Bush not to vote for Gaza resolution."
Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says that he told President Bush not to vote in favor of the United Nations' last week resolution on Gaza.
"I told him (Bush) the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor," said Olmert on Monday.
Last Thursday, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1860, calling for an immediate ceasefire between Hamas and Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip and an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The US was the only country that abstained while fourteen of the council's 15 members voted in favor of the resolution.
According to Olmert, Bush had ordered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to abstain.
"In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favor," Olmert said in a speech in the southern town of Ashkelon.
"I said 'get me President Bush on the phone'. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I did not care. 'I need to talk to him now'. He got off the podium and spoke to me," he added.
Despite worldwide condemnation of Israeli military campaign in Gaza, the Bush administration blamed Hamas for provoking Tel Aviv by firing rockets into Israel from coastal region.
Hamas, the democratically-elected government of the Gaza Strip, demands the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces, the opening of Gaza's border crossings and a cessation of an 18-month Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave -- home to some 1.5 million Palestinians.
Israel's three-week-old offensive on the Gaza Strip has claimed more than 919 Palestinians lives and has wounded more than 4,100.