In today’s Wall Street Journal, former UN ambassador John Bolton rightly criticizes the Bush administration for abstaining on a Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.
That’s no way to lead. If Washington concluded that a harsh resolution on Gaza was warranted, the proper course was to vote for it. And that is, apparently, what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had hoped to do. Speaking to the Security Council, Ms. Rice endorsed the basic content of the British draft, saying “this resolution is a step toward our goals.” She also said that the U.S. was abstaining to give Egypt’s ongoing mediation efforts time to work.
The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, however, indicates that there may have been another reason. He said publicly Ms. Rice told him just before the vote that she had “been given new instructions” (certainly from President George W. Bush) not to support the draft.
Today’s Jerusalem Post gives us a more complete answer as to what happened, at least according to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert<.
Speaking today in Ashkelon, Olmert bragged that he dragged Bush out of a speech in Philadelphia and told him he didn’t want Rice to vote for the resolution:
I [called the White House and] said, ‘Get President Bush on the phone.’ They tried and told me he was in the middle of a lecture in Philadelphia. I said ‘I’m not interested, I need to speak to him right now.’ He got down from the podium, went out and took the phone call. I told him the US cannot possibly vote for this resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote for it. She was left quite embarrassed.
Olmert ought not to be speaking publicly in this manner about his country’s only ally. While I doubt that it all went down exactly as he says (as I doubt just about everything that man says), this sort of loose talk is insulting to the United States and to Bush, who has been a good friend to Olmert. The sooner this ethically challenged politician is out of office the better it will be for Israel.
As for Rice, she should be embarrassed. As Bolton writes:
In the past, both Democratic and Republican administrations reacted to one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions by vetoing them.
That is exactly what the U.S. should have done in this case.