US set to veto UN resolution on protecting Palestinians

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—File Photo


UNITED NATIONS, United States: The United States is set to veto on Friday an Arab-backed draft resolution calling for protection measures for the Palestinians after more than 100 were killed by Israeli forces during protests at the border with Gaza.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley described the text as a “grossly one-sided approach” and vowed “the United States will unquestionably veto” the measure put forward by Kuwait on behalf of Arab countries.

The proposed resolution “is morally bankrupt and would only serve to undermine ongoing efforts toward peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” Haley said in a statement on Thursday.

The council is scheduled to vote at 3:00 pm (1900 GMT).

The United States circulated a separate amended draft resolution blaming Hamas for the recent flare-up in Gaza and demanding that Hamas and Islamic Jihad “cease all violent activity and provocative actions, including along the boundary fence,” according to the text seen by AFP.

Diplomats said negotiations were continuing on whether to put that measure to a vote. If put to a vote, the US-proposed text was not expected to garner enough support for adoption.

Kuwait presented its draft two weeks ago, initially calling for an international protection mission for the Palestinians as protests turned violent on the Israeli-Gaza border.

At least 122 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the unrest since the end of March.
A Palestinian woman was killed by Israeli fire on Friday, just hours before the vote. No Israelis have been killed.

After weeks of negotiations, Kuwait softened the language and instead called for “the consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection” of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

The draft resolution requests a report from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on a possible “international protection mechanism.”

– Close to the brink of war –

The council has been deadlocked over how to respond to the violence, even as UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned this week that Gaza was “close to the brink of war.”

An exchange of fire on Tuesday and into the early hours of Wednesday began with a barrage of rocket and mortars into Israel from Gaza, prompting Israel to respond with strikes on 65 militant sites in the Gaza Strip.

It was the worst flare-up since the 2014 war in Gaza. Israel has fought three wars with Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization.

The Kuwait-drafted measure deplores the use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” by Israeli forces and the firing of rockets form the Gaza Strip into Israeli civilian areas.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon has urged council members to vote against what he termed a “biased resolution that condemns Israel yet fails to mention the terrorists of Hamas who are responsible for the violence against Israelis and Palestinians.”

Haley delivered a blunt warning to European countries and other council members that choosing to “vote in favor of this resolution will clarify their own lack of fitness to take part in any credible negotiations between the two parties.”

It would be the second time that Haley has resorted to US veto power to block a UN measure on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In December, Haley vetoed a draft resolution that rejected President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem after all 14 other council members supported it.

A draft resolution requires nine votes to be adopted in the 15-member council and no veto from the five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.—AFP

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