The United States has joined Britain, France and Germany in pressing a bid for a new UN Security Council resolution on Gaza, in an effort to end more than six weeks of conflict, diplomats said Thursday.
“This is not a competition,” said an American diplomat in Washington. “We share with other Security Council members a concern over the return to hostilities following the breach of the Egyptian-brokered humanitarian ceasefire. And the council has called on all parties to prevent the situation from escalating and to resume negotiations.”
Another diplomat said both Israeli and Palestinian officials have privately suggested Security Council action would be helpful in persuading their constituents to accept measures to end the conflict, which has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side.
“The message that we are getting from both sides is that it would be helpful to prescribe some elements to enable them to sell it internally,” that diplomat said.
The European initiative came as fighting flared on the ground, with Israeli airstrikes killing three top Hamas commanders and an Egyptian-led effort to broker peace talks teetering on the verge of collapse.
Diplomats said the resolution would include opening up Gaza’s borders and a return of the Palestinian Authority to the territory, now controlled by Hamas. It would also include security assurances for the Israelis, including ways to prevent Hamas from acquiring more arms and building more tunnels. The resolution would incorporate a European Union offer to take charge of Gaza’s border crossings.
The international monitoring and verification mission would likely be a joint UN-EU effort, according to the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private and sensitive.
The diplomat said the three European countries have shared the elements of the possible resolution with council members, including Jordan, which has circulated its own resolution calling for a ceasefire. It has been met with resistance, notably from the US.
The so-called “elements” document lays out the parameters for a ceasefire deal that would address Israel’s security concerns and meet Palestinian demands.
It instructs UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to immediately come up with proposals to “implement the relevant provisions” in a move that could jump-start the peace negotiations.
UN diplomats said they hoped the initiative would shore up the Egyptian-led peace track and lead to a lasting ceasefire that would avoid a relapse into war in the future.
But Council members are wary of undermining efforts to revive the Egyptian-led talks. One diplomat said some members are also warning about unforeseen consequences of the UN’s most powerful body jumping in with a binding resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If either side violates the resolution, it could lead to calls for the Security Council to impose punitive measures “and some sort of escalation that is not in our interest,” the diplomat said.
Jordan has circulated its own resolution calling for a ceasefire, condemning civilian casualties and an end to excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians.
Jordan’s UN Ambassador Dina Kawar told reporters Wednesday the proposal is still on the table “but we’re taking our time to talk to the Americans, to the Europeans.”
“There (are) some ideas circulating so we want to make sure that it incorporates everybody because the whole idea is to have a Security Council resolution that’s effective,” she said.
Other council diplomats say Jordan’s support for any resolution is crucial. But one diplomat said the Jordanian proposal contains no security guarantees for Israel and “really doesn’t say much about how we would sustain the peace.”
“It is essentially a Palestinian draft that has been endorsed by the Arab Group,” the diplomat said. “It’s kind of burned already. Everyone knows it comes from the Palestinians.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pledged international help to rebuild Gaza but warned that this would be “for the last time” after three wars in six years.
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 to stop indiscriminate rocket fire by Gaza terror groups on Israeli cities and destroy a network of tunnels that inflitrate into Israel and which have been used in deadly terror attacks.
More than 2,000 people have been killed in Gaza since last month. Israel says 750-1,000 of the dead are Hamas and other gunmen. It also blames Hamas for all civilian fatalities, since Hamas set up its rocket-launchers, tunnel openings and other elements of its war machine in Gaza neighborhoods and uses Gazans as “human shields.” Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians in the fighting. Eleven of the soldiers were killed by Hamas gunmen emerging from cross-border tunnels dug under the Israeli border.
Hamas has fired over 3,500 rockets at Israel, including some 600 from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, the Israeli army says.