UN Security Council fails to condemn Jerusalem attack

( dpa )- The UN Security Council in an urgent meeting late Thursday failed to condemn an attack that killed eight Jewish religious students in Jerusalem earlier in the day.

The United States' UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad singled out Libya as the council member that blocked the issuance of a statement to condemn the attack.

Israel also singled out Libya for the failure and the two enemies exchanged accusations after the meeting that the other was a "terrorist country."

An unidentified Libyan delegate told reporters that "four or five" council members demanded that the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip be mentioned in the statement that the council would have liked to issue. He declined to name the countries.

Council President Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador, said following the two-hour closed-door meeting that there was no consensus on issuing a statement to condemn the attack because some members did not view the attack in Jerusalem as a terrorist attack.

"We, the Russian delegation, regret that the council was not able to condemn the attack," Churkin said. He described the killing of eight Jewish students as a "clear-cut terrorist attack."

Police in Jerusalem said a lone gunman opened fire on the students in the library of a Jewish seminary, also wounding nine students, three of them seriously. The gunman was killed.

"What happened today was clearly a terrorist attack - the killing of students is different from civilian losses as a result of military operations," Khalilzad said.

"We regret that the council cannot contribute positively in the region," Khalilzad said. "Those who blocked (the statement) bears responsibility for it."

The 15-nation council last Saturday also failed to issue a statement on the fighting in Gaza, where the Israeli military killed dozens of Palestinian militants and civilians in retaliation for rockets fired by militants against Israel.

While some council members wanted a condemnation of both sides, Arab states, which are represented by Libya in the council, demanded a condemnation of Israel, but not the Palestinians.

After the council broke up the meeting without any result late Thursday, Israel's UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman lambasted Libya's opposition to condemning the attack, telling reporters that "the Security Council is infiltrated by terrorists."

"This is a country that brought Lockerbie," Gillerman said, referring to the downing of PanAm Flight 103 by Libya in 1989 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed more than 200 people.

Gillerman deplored the fact that Libya was elected to the council and called it a "terrorist country for many years."

The Libyan delegate, who was not identified, countered by saying, "We don't need a certificate of good behaviour from a terrorist country."

The Jerusalem attack was condemned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki- moon before the council's urgent meeting. Ban last week also condemned both Israel and the Palestinian militants for the deaths and fighting in Gaza.

"The secretary general condemns in the strongest terms today's savage attack on a Jewish seminary in west Jerusalem, and the deliberate killing and injuring of civilians," a UN statement said. "He extends his condolences to the families of those killed."

"The secretary general is deeply concerned at the potential for continued acts of violence and terrorism to undermine the political process, which he believes must be pursued to achieve a secure and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians, based on a two-state solution," it said.

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