Once again, US blocks UN Security Council statement on Palestine-Israel violence

As fighting between Palestinian factions and Israel entered a second week, the UN Security Council had its hopes dashed by the United States on Monday to release its first statement on the conflict that has seen an onslaught of Israeli airstrikes on what Tel Aviv says are militant targets in response to Hamas rocket attacks.

Last week, the United States blocked multiple attempts by the Security Council member states to hold a public meeting on the matter. US officials hoped diplomatic efforts would lead to a ceasefire or de-escalation of tensions, but as fighting raged, it finally agreed to the first public meeting on Sunday.

The latest draft statement by the Security Council, obtained by Al Arabiya English, urged an immediate cessation of violence and respect for international humanitarian law, “including the protection of civilians, especially children.”

No direct mention of Hamas was included, neither was there a condemnation of rocket attacks on Israel.

Sources familiar with the matter expected the US to block the release of the statement as it did not “unequivocally” condemn rocket attacks by Hamas, as Israel has demanded.

“The Members of the Security Council emphasized that civilian and humanitarian facilities, including those of the UN, must be respected and protected, called on all parties to act consistently with this principle and stressed the need for immediate provision of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza,” the draft statement read.

Egypt and Qatar have been at the center of outreach from Washington and other European capitals as they have significant influence over Palestinian factions. Egypt reportedly tried to broker a ceasefire but to no avail.

The Biden administration dispatched an envoy to the region last week with the hopes of pressing both sides to make concessions and de-escalate. Hady Amr’s efforts so far have also failed to make any headway.

While the Security Council draft statement welcomed international efforts, the member states expressed their concern about violence in East Jerusalem and “urged the exercise of maximum restraint, for the respect of the historic status quo at the holy sites and the right of Muslim worshippers to pray in peace at Al Aqsa mosque.”

The UNSC also condemned Israeli efforts to evict Palestinian families “from homes they have lived in for generations in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and voiced opposition to unilateral actions.”

Nevertheless, the Security Council called for a two-state solution where Israel and Palestine live side by side “in peace within secure and recognized borders, and urged for the intensification and acceleration of diplomatic efforts and support towards this aim.”

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