UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Arab countries failed to get the U.N. Security Council to hold a formal meeting on Mideast violence Thursday with the Council saying it wasn't the right time and the United States making clear it would veto any resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian envoy Nasser Al-Kidwa said this week he would probably make a third attempt to get the Security Council to adopt a resolution calling for protection for Palestinians and an end to Mideast violence. Israel opposes the idea of a U.N. force.

``There was widespread agreement in the Council that it wasn't appropriate to take a decision at this time,'' said acting U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham, the current council president.

The United States ``remains focused on the contacts that are ongoing, very high level contacts,'' Cunningham said. ``We didn't think that a Security Council meeting would be helpful to this process.''

The Bush administration is making a renewed diplomatic drive at ending the Mideast violence which began Sept. 28 and has left more than 450 people dead on the Palestinian side and more than 70 dead on the Israeli side.

Asked if the United States was prepared to use its veto to block any resolutions on the conflict, Cunningham said, ``I think it's fair to say that we would not support any step like that. We would oppose a step like that.''

Al-Kidwa's deputy, Marwan Jilani, said the council should have held the meeting and denounced the Americans' opposition.

``I think they should act as president of the Security Council and not use this advantage to ... their national interests,'' he said. ``There is a formal request by a number of member states to hold a meeting and I think it is the duty of the Security Council to respond positively to this request.''

Al-Kidwa, who is the current president of the Group of Arab States here, asked for an ``immediate'' council metting on ``the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem'' and ``the escalation of repressive practices'' by Israel.