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US Told Not to Vote for Gaza Resolution By Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he had told the US president not to vote in favor of the recent United Nations resolution on Gaza.
"I told him (George W. 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 and an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The US was the only country to abstain; fourteen of the 15 council members voted in favor of the resolution.
According to Olmert, Bush had ordered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to abstain. Rice is among officials who had helped arrange the resolution.
"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.
World nations have condemned the Israeli military campaign in Gaza. The Bush administration, however, blames Hamas, saying the group provoked Tel Aviv by firing rockets into Israel.
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.
The nearly three-week-old Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip has claimed more than 919 Palestinian lives and has wounded more than 4,100.