Last Friday’s resolution in the United Nations Security Council urging a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip passed 14-0, with the abstention of the United States. The abstention came after President Bush sent last minute orders to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who worked hard winning support for the watered down resolution only to not vote in favor of it. The move surprised virtually everybody, who assumed the US was going to vote in favor.
But where did Bush’s orders come from? If you believe Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, it came from him. Olmert claims to have called President Bush, demanded to speak to him even though he was in the process of giving a lecture, and ordered him to stop Rice from voting in favor of the deal. Olmert seemed quite pleased with himself, adding that his move embarrassed Rice.
The State Department has denied the report, of course, and sparked something of a war of words between Prime Minister Olmert and Secretary Rice. Israeli newspaper Haaretz did some digging into the reports, and found that Rice had indeed told her French and British counterparts she was “on board” for the resolution, only to be thwarted by the last minute phone call. In their denials US officials insisted they had intended to abstain all along, bolstering Olmert’s case that something, namely him, changed Bush’s stance at the last minute.