The US Thursday used its veto power to block a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israel for its targeted killing of Palestinian militant leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Three countries -- Germany, Britain and Rumania -- abstained from the resolution, which was supported by 11 council members.
The US and German ambassadors, John Negroponte and Gunter Pleuger, indicated that the resolution, which was sponsored by Algeria, was unbalanced because it failed to also condemn violence by Hamas, the militant group founded by Yassin.
Yassin was slain on Monday morning outside his mosque by Israeli gunships. Israel had previously tried to kill the popular Palestinian leader, who was a quadraplegic, and once destroyed his house in a bombing run.
Negroponte said his country opposed the resolution because it was "silent about the terrorist atrocities committed by Hamas," did not reflect the realities of the conflict in the Middle East and "because it will not further the goals of peace and security in the region."
But at the same time, he said Washington was "deeply troubled" by the killing.
"Israel's action has escalated tensions in Gaza and the region, and could set back our efforts to resume progress towards peace," he said.
But he said the council would do "nothing to contribute to a peaceful settlement" by condemning one party and turning "a blind eye to everything else occurring in the region."
Pleuger said that while the German government rejects all extra-judicial slayings, such as that by Israel of Yassin, it also "felt obligated to condemn both sides," in reference to the bloody attacks by Hamas terrorists on Israeli citizens over the past three years.
The vote followed days of closed-door talks, during which the US led efforts to include a condemnation of Hamas in the resolution. Earlier in the week, the US had said it was "deeply troubled" over Israel's actions but added that Israel had a right to self-defense.
Algeria's ambassador, Abdallah Baali, said the failed vote was "not sending the right message to the world, which has unanimously condemned this crime."
On Wednesday, the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights strongly condemned the assassination.
Thirty-one countries voted to condemn Israel while the US and Australia voted against the condemnation. Eighteen countries abstained.