The United States has vowed to veto a proposal put forward to the UN Security Council which requests “international protection” for Palestinian civilians.
US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has called the draft resolution “grossly one-sided” and “morally bankrupt”, claiming it “would only serve to undermine ongoing efforts toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” Haley criticised the proposal for making no mention of Hamas, saying that “the text criticises [the] excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, when in fact it is Hamas that fired 70 rockets indiscriminately into Israeli towns this week.”
The US envoy further denounced the draft, noting that it “calls for immediate steps toward ending Israeli restrictions on access into Gaza, while making no mention of Egypt’s restrictions and no mention of Hamas’ deliberate attacks against Israel’s determined efforts to provide humanitarian access into Gaza at the Kerem Shalom crossing.” She added that “those who choose to vote in favour of this resolution will clarify their own lack of fitness to take part in any credible negotiations between the two parties.”
The draft resolution, which was submitted by Kuwait on Tuesday, “calls for the consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population.” It calls for urgent steps “to ensure an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire” and asks UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a written report within 60 days detailing recommendations about “an international protection mechanism”. The draft also urges immediate, unimpeded humanitarian access and “tangible steps” towards reconciliation between different Palestinian factions, according to the New York Times.
Kuwait is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and hopes to win a high number of votes in favour of its proposal, according to Al Jazeera. The draft has been lambasted by Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, Danny Danon, who called it “shameful” and argued the resolution was designed to help Hamas. The proposal has also been criticised by Britain and France, two permanent members of the Security Council, for lacking specific details.
The Security Council was due to vote on the draft proposal yesterday evening, but diplomats announced that it would be delayed. No official justification was provided as to the reasons for the delay. It is thought the session could take place on later today.
The UN Security Council has been paralysed in the face of the recent violence against protesters in Gaza, despite the fact that a number of emergency meetings have been held. At an emergency meeting on Wednesday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, said the latest escalation in Gaza was a warning of “how close to the brink of war we are every day,” according to Ynet.
In April, UN Secretary‑General Antonio Guterres issued a statement calling on “all concerned to refrain from any act that could lead to further violence or place civilians in harm’s way, especially children”. Guterres added that “I particularly urge Israel to exercise extreme caution with the use of force in order to avoid casualties. Civilians must be able to exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully.”
Guterres’ statement came in the wake of Israel’s violent repression of the Great March of Return, which began on 30 March and continued until the 70th anniversary of the Nakba on 15 May. Over the course of the Great March, more than 120 Palestinians were killed and a further 13,000 were injured by Israeli live fire, tear gas and the use of its latest weapons against unarmed protesters.