U.S. criticizes Algeria

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton criticized Algeria for blocking a U.N. Security Council statement blaming Islamic Jihad for a suicide bombing in Israel and urging Syria to shut the militant group's offices in Damascus. Algeria's U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali accused the American envoy of being "totally inaccurate and unfair." It was a rare outburst by Bolton against a fellow member of the Security Council, and drew a strong rebuke from Baali who complained Tuesday that the American envoy's "take it or leave it" approach went against the council's give-and-take tradition of doing business.

Bolton said the United States had drafted a statement for the Security Council to adopt on Monday's suicide bombing in the coastal city of Netanya which killed five Israelis and injured more than 35 others. It was the fifth since Israel and the Palestinians forged a cease-fire in February and Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for all of them, saying its attacks are in response to Israeli violations of the truce.

The draft U.S. press statement "unequivocally" condemned the terrorist attack, denounced all acts of terrorism and urged all parties to exercise restraint. It urged the Syrian government to take immediate action to close the offices of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and "prevent the use of its territory by armed groups engaged in terrorist acts," and support progress on the so-called road map to Middle East peace.

Bolton said "Algeria objected to the reference to Syria and to the reference to Palestinian Islamic Jihad" even though the group claimed responsibility for the attack and the Palestinians said the orders came from Damascus.

"We are simply not going to accept watering down of Security Council press statements, and failing to name the names of the people responsible, in this case for terrorist attacks," he said. Bolton said there was "nothing left to negotiate" so he decided to act alone and read the statement to reporters on behalf of the United States. Baali strongly disagreed with Bolton, saying the United States wanted the text adopted without any discussion. When Algeria, Russia and others proposed amendments and asked for a meeting of council experts to discuss the draft, he said, the United States withdrew it, reports the AP. I.L.

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