CALLING THE SHOTS…. Last week, there was a key vote on a United Nations resolution on a Gaza ceasefire. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice worked on crafting the specific language of the measure, and rallied other countries to back the resolution. It was obvious, given her efforts, that Rice supported both the measure and its goals.
And yet, when it came time for a vote, the United States abstained. What happened? Apparently, Ehud Olmert made a phone call.
In an unusually public rebuke, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel said Monday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been forced to abstain from a United Nations resolution on Gaza that she helped draft, after Mr. Olmert placed a phone call to President Bush.
“I said, ‘Get me President Bush on the phone,’ ” Mr. Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, according to The Associated Press. “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,’ ” Mr. Olmert continued. “He got off the podium and spoke to me.”
Israel opposed the resolution, which called for a halt to the fighting in Gaza, because the government said it did not provide for Israel’s security. It passed 14 to 0, with the United States abstaining.
Mr. Olmert claimed that once he made his case to Mr. Bush, the president called Ms. Rice and told her to abstain. “She was left pretty embarrassed,” Mr. Olmert said, according to The A.P.
In response, a State Department official said Rice wanted to abstain, and it was all part of the plan.
But that’s very hard to believe. The U.S. Secretary of State helped write and “fully supports” a resolution, and then suddenly decides she doesn’t want to vote for it?
At a State Department briefing yesterday, spokesperson Sean McCormack was asked “what message does it send” when Rice fails to vote for a resolution she supports and helped write. McCormack responded, “Well, you’re — you’re certainly welcome to your interpretation.”
As non-answers go, that one actually tells us quite a bit.