NEW YORK – Competing U.N. Security Council proposals to respond to the escalation of violence in Gaza both failed Friday, demonstrating the deep divisions that have paralyzed the U.N.’s most powerful body.
After months of urgent discussions about the violence, the U.S. vetoed an Arab-backed resolution that sought to explore ways to ensure “international protection” for Palestinian civilians, while council members voted down a U.S. resolution to condemn Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza.
Ten of the council’s 15 members voted for the Arab-backed resolution, drafted by Kuwait. The U.S. was the sole yes vote for its resolution.
In vetoing the Kuwaiti measure, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called it “grossly one-sided” for demanding that the Israeli military halt “the use of any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” while not mentioning Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza.
“This resolution is wildly inaccurate in its characterization of recent events in Gaza” and “would harm any efforts toward peace,” she said.
But Kuwaiti Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi said the veto stood to exacerbate the problems in Gaza.
“It will increase the sentiment of despair among the Palestinians,” he said.
The defeated U.S. resolution, meanwhile, deletes the reference to Israeli force and protecting Palestinians, while adding many passages casting blame on Hamas for violence, endangering civilians, and deteriorating conditions in Gaza.
It demanded that Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups stop “all violent activity and provocative actions” in Gaza and called for a report on the recent actions of “terrorist organizations such as Hamas” in the coastal strip.
In two months of mass protests at the Gaza border, some 110 Palestinians were killed and thousands wounded by Israeli military fire. Israel said its troops were defending its border and accused Hamas of trying to attack under the cover of the protest.
Hamas and a smaller Islamic militant group bombarded southern Israel with rockets and mortars Tuesday, and Israel responded by striking targets throughout Gaza. Hamas said Wednesday it had agreed to a cease-fire with Israel.
The vetoed Kuwaiti draft resolution expressed “grave concern” at the increased violence and deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories and called for urgent steps to ensure a “durable and fully respected cease-fire.”
It asked U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a written report within 60 days on ways to ensure “the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including recommendations about “an international protection mechanism.” The measure also urged humanitarian access and sought “tangible steps” toward reconciliation between different Palestinian factions.
And it “deplored” the rocket fire at Israel, without specifying who was responsible.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon called the draft biased and “not worthy of consideration by the Security Council.” Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are members of the council.
At Kuwait’s request, the council has held multiple emergency meetings on the border clashes. The U.S. called an emergency session Wednesday on the barrage of rockets and mortars the day prior.
Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought three wars since the Islamic group seized control of Gaza in 2007.
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