In a contentious exchange at this afternoon’s White House press briefing, Tony Snow attempted to discredit reporter Helen Thomas by characterizing her comments as “the Hezbollah view.” Watch it.
Thomas asked Snow why the U.S. recently vetoed an Arab-backed U.N. resolution calling for Israel to halt its military offensive
in Lebanon. Snow claimed, “We didn’t even veto — please get your facts right.” Thomas followed up by specifically asking, “There was no veto at the U.N.?” Snow maintained: “No. There hasn’t been a resolution at the V.N. — the U.N., whatever it is.”
Snow’s the one who may need to check his facts. The AP reports:
The United States blocked an Arab-backed resolution Thursday that would have demanded Israel halt its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, the first U.N. Security Council veto in nearly two years.
The draft, sponsored by Qatar on behalf of other Arab nations, accused Israel of a “disproportionate use of force” that endangered Palestinian civilians, and demanded Israel withdraw its troops from Gaza. The United States was alone in voting against the resolution. Ten of the 15 Security Council nations voted in favor, while Britain, Denmark, Peru and Slovakia abstained.
QUESTION: The United States is not that helpless. It could have stopped the bombardments of Lebanon. We have that much control with the Israelis.
SNOW: I don’t think so.
QUESTION: We have gone for collective punishment against all of Lebanon and Palestine. And what’s happening — and that’s the perception of the United States.
SNOW: Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view, but I would encourage you…
QUESTION: Nobody’s accepting your explanation. What is it say, to call for…
SNOW: I’ll tell you, what’s interesting is people have. The G-8 was completely united on this. And as you know when it comes to issues of…
QUESTION: Stop the cease-fire? Why?
SNOW: We didn’t stop a cease-fire. Let me continue — I’ll tell you what. We didn’t even veto — please get your facts right. What happened was that the G-8 countries made a pretty clear determination that the guilty party here was Hezbollah. You cannot have a cease- fire when you’ve got the leader of Hezbollah going on his television saying that he perceives total war, he’s declaring total war, when they are firing rockets indiscriminately…(CROSSTALK)
SNOW: Please let me finish. I know this is great entertainment, but I want to finish the answer. The point here is, they’re firing rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas. The Israelis are responding, as they see fit. You will note, the countries that disagree with the government of Israel in terms of its general approach on Palestine — many of our European allies agree that Israel has the right to defend itself, that the government of Lebanon has the right to control all its territory, that Hezbollah is responsible, and that those who support it also bear responsibility.
There is no daylight between the United States and all the allies on this. They all agree on it. This was not difficult…
QUESTION: That’s not the point. Why did we veto a cease-fire?
SNOW: We didn’t veto a cease-fire.
QUESTION: Yes, we did.
SNOW: No, we didn’t. There was no cease-fire.
QUESTION: But wasn’t there a resolution?
QUESTION: At the U.N.?
SNOW: No. You know what you’ve done — I see — what happened was that there was conversation about, quote, a cease-fire that was picked up on some of the microphone when some colorful language made its way into the airwaves yesterday.(LAUGHTER)
And the president was continuing a conversation he had had earlier with Prime Minister Tony Blair about staging. Would we like a cease-fire? You bet. Absolutely. We would love to see a cease-fire. But the way you stage it is that you make sure that the people who started this fight, Hezbollah, take their responsibility.
QUESTION: There was no veto at the U.N.?
SNOW: No. There hasn’t been a resolution at the V.N. — the U.N., whatever it is. There haven’t been any…(LAUGHTER)
There hasn’t been.(LAUGHTER) I’ve been at (inaudible) in Germany too long. There has been no resolution at the U.N.