Jerusalem attack unanimously condemned at UN Security Council session on conflict

Mideast envoy updates council members on ‘rapidly deteriorating situation’ after terror shooting, Jenin operation; US warns against backing Palestinian measures at UN

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Illustrative: A UN Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York, January 12, 2023. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Illustrative: A UN Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York, January 12, 2023. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

All 15 members of the United Nations Security Council condemned Friday’s deadly terror attack in East Jerusalem during an emergency session that was scheduled a day earlier to discuss a deadly IDF raid in the Palestinian city of Jenin, two UN diplomats told The Times of Israel.

The meeting was the second emergency session that the council has held on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the past month, as tensions have surged since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government took office late last month.

Had the session been held 24 hours earlier, the focus of many members might have been on the Israeli military’s tactics in an operation that left nine Palestinians dead in Jenin.

Instead, council members paid significant attention to the attack in Jerusalem that saw a Palestinian terrorist open fire at civilians outside of a synagogue in the Neve Ya’akov neighborhood, killing seven people and injuring at least three others, the diplomats said.

The military operation in Jenin targeted a terror cell that was preparing an imminent attack, the IDF said. Most of the deaths were members of the cell or gunmen, although at least one civilian was also killed.

The Security Council representatives from China, France, Russian Federation, the UK, the US, Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates all condemned the Jerusalem attack.

Unlike the public session earlier this month that was called to discuss far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to Jerusalem’s flashpoint Temple Mount, Friday’s session was held behind closed doors, and the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors were not invited to speak.

Friday’s session began with a briefing from the UN’s Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland, who updated members on Thursday’s Jenin raid along with Friday’s Jerusalem attack and warned that the situation is “rapidly deteriorating,” one diplomat said.

Rescue and security forces stand near a body at the site of a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood on January 27, 2023. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The diplomat said some members, particularly Russia, were more critical of Israel’s role in the ongoing escalation.

Friday’s meeting was requested by the UAE, China and France, indicating widespread concern regarding Israeli-Palestinian tensions, although there was a lack of consensus on how to approach the conflict.

The US representative used his prepared remarks Friday to argue against “unilateral measures” by the Palestinians at the UN, while Russia’s envoy said Moscow would support such initiatives, including one to grant the Palestinians official member status at the UN.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf was asked during a Thursday briefing about the possibility that the Palestinian Authority would pursue action at the UN against Israel over Thursday’s raid.

“We don’t think it makes sense to be going to international fora at this point. This is exactly the point at which they need to engage with each other and that will be the nature of our discussions with both sets of officials,” she said.

While some emergency Security Council session lead to a decision by members to draft a joint statement or adopt a binding resolution, that was not the case on Friday.

“It speaks to the recognition by members that they won’t be able to reach a consensus on this issue,” said one of the UN diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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