The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Tuesday on the violence in Gaza, with Kuwait preparing a draft resolution to protect Palestinian civilians and the United States defending ally Israel’s use of “restraint.”
The emergency talks began at UN headquarters in New York with a moment of silence to honor the 60 Palestinians who died Monday, the majority killed by Israeli fire, in the bloodiest day in Gaza since 2014.
The deaths overshadowed the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, relocated from Tel Aviv in fulfillment of a campaign promise by US President Donald Trump, whose daughter Ivanka attended the inaugural ceremony.
The diplomatic mission’s move, which dramatically underscored US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, infuriated the Palestinians.
Tens of thousands of Gazans had gathered near the border in protest while smaller numbers of stone-throwers approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.
The Kuwaiti ambassador to the United Nations told reporters that his country intended to circulate a draft UN resolution to protect Palestinian civilians.
Mansour al-Otaibi said the draft would be circulated “most probably tomorrow” and would be designed to protect the Palestinians and “provide international protection for civilians.” Kuwait is a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
“This cycle of violence in Gaza needs to end,” said Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process.
“For if it does not, it will explode and drag everyone in the region into another deadly confrontation,” he told the council by video link from Jerusalem.
But US Ambassador Nikki Haley launched a stinging attack on Iranian aggression in the Middle East, deploring a “double standard,” condemning Hamas provocation and said ally Israel had acted with restraint.
“No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has,” Haley told the council. “In fact the records of several countries here today suggest they would be much less restrained.”
To suggest that the violence had anything to do with the relocation of the US embassy was a smoke screen, Haley said.
“The Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy,” she said. “Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday,” she added.
“The United States deplores the loss of human life,” she said.
Britain and Germany have backed an independent investigation into the violence, but the United States on Monday blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe.
Israel has also laid the blame squarely with Hamas, accusing Gaza’s Islamist rulers of war crimes. Its ambassador to the United Nations called on the Security Council to condemn the faction.
“Only then will justice be served,” Danny Danon told reporters. Israel, he said, regretted “every casualty.”
Story first published: 15th May 2018