Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington under nine presidents and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

January 14, 2009


Irish Times - Israel's prime minister claimed that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was embarrassed by orders to abstain from voting last week on a UN truce resolution for Gaza that she helped arrange.

Israel had argued that the Security Council measure calling for a halt to the Gaza fighting - which passed Thursday in a 14-0 vote with the US abstaining - was unworkable because it did not guarantee Israel's security.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he called President George W. Bush to seek an abstention from the US, a key Israeli ally at the United Nations.

"I said: 'Get me President Bush on the phone,'" Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. "They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn't care: 'I need to talk to him now.' He got off the podium and spoke to me."

Olmert said he argued that the United States should not vote in favor, and the president then called Rice and told her not to do so.

"She was left pretty embarrassed," Olmert said.

A senior US official in Washington disputed the account.

"The plan had been all along, as agreed by the secretary and the president, that if all of the pieces fell into place, we would abstain," the official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

"The government of Israel does not make policy for the United States," the official added.


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