§ Clare Short
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason the UK abstained in the UN Security Council vote on Israel on 16 September. 
§ Mr. Rammell
The draft resolution before the UN Security Council on 16 September was unbalanced and therefore unhelpful to the implementation of the338W roadmap. As our Permanent Representative to the UN said at the time, we regret that the Security Council was unable to pass a balanced resolution. But the resolution's sponsors would not accommodate UK amendments intended to achieve a better balance, and the UK therefore abstained. A resolution on the situation of President Arafat was subsequently put to an Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly. European Union proposals for a more balanced text were then accepted and the UK, with our EU Partners, voted for the resolution.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has made clear the Government's view that expelling or harming President Arafat would be wrong and counterproductive. Israel should not allow its justified anger at the continuing violence to lead to actions that would undermine both the peace process and its own interests.