UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution Thursday condemning Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin.
The veto came after Algeria, the resolution's sponsor, rejected a U.S. demand that the measure also condemn violence by Hamas and other militant groups by name.
The resolution "is silent about the terrorist atrocities committed by Hamas," U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said before the vote. He called the measure "unbalanced, one-sided."
"Israel's action has escalated tensions in Gaza and the region ... but events must be considered in their context," Negroponte said.
Critics said the veto condoned Israel's policy of assassinating militant leaders.
The vote was 11 countries in favor, three countries abstaining, and only the United States against.
Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, was killed in a missile strike Monday morning in Gaza. Israel has warned that all other leaders of the group could be targeted.
Hamas has claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings and shootings of Israelis during 31/2 years of violence. Israel says it is targeting the group's leaders to stop such attacks, but critics say killing suspects without arresting or trying them violates international law.
On Wednesday, the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva voted 31-2 to condemn Israel for Yassin's death, but the body has no power to punish countries. A resolution by the Security Council would have carried more international weight.
The 11 Security Council members who voted for the measure were: China, Russia, France, The Philippines, Angola, Chile, Pakistan, Spain, Algeria, Benin and Brazil.
Britain, Germany and Romania abstained.
The vetoed resolution condemned Yassin's death and called for a "complete cessation of extrajudicial executions." It also condemned "all terrorist attacks against any civilians as well as all acts of violence and destruction."
However, it did not mention any militant groups by name -- a traditional U.S. demand.
Only five members of the Security Council -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- can veto the body's resolutions. Thursday's veto is the United States' 79th and the latest in a long string of vetoes regarding Israel.
The Soviet Union and Russia have cast the most Security Council vetoes over the years, 121. Britain has cast 32, France 18 and China, 5.
Source: AP / CNN