by RAY FLEMING “WE support the text of this resolution, its goals and objectives” said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the UN Security Council late last Thursday night. The resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza was the result of three days of intensive negotiation in which Dr Rice had participated fully.

Before the final vote was due to be held, Britain's foreign secretary David Miliband, who had done most of the drafting of the final text, was under the impression that Dr Rice would vote with the other fourteen members of the Council to adopt the resolution. However, when the president of the Council asked for hands to be raised by those in favour, Dr Rice did not move. The United States had decided to abstain, thus robbing the resolution of much of its force. There has been no official statement from Washington about the reason for the contrast between Dr Rice's words in favour of the resolution and her inability to vote for it. However, it is believed that she received a last-minute message from President Bush who had received a last-minute phone call from prime minister Olmert in Israel. This would not be surprising - indeed, given America's track record on voting on Israeli-related issues in the Security Council, the surprise is really that it did not show its hand earlier on this occasion. So this appalling one-sided slaughter in Gaza continues with no end in sight - except the endless bitterness and hostility of the Muslim world.

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