Kuwait at UN seeks to set up international ‘protection’ mission for Palestinians

US expected to veto measure, other countries demand more details; Israel calls on Security Council to recognize Hamas as terror group

Kuwait's Ambassador to the United Nations Mansour Al-Otaibi, left, talks to Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour at the start of a UN Security Council meeting, May 15, 2018 in New York. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
Kuwait's Ambassador to the United Nations Mansour Al-Otaibi, left, talks to Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour at the start of a UN Security Council meeting, May 15, 2018 in New York. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

Kuwait on Tuesday circulated a watered-down draft UN Security Council resolution on setting up an international protection mission for the Palestinians in a bid to win European support in a vote expected this week, diplomats said.

The council could hold a vote, possibly on Thursday, on the draft resolution, which is expected to face a US veto, the diplomats said. European and African countries have also expressed concerns.

Still, Kuwait, a non-permanent council member representing Arab countries, is hoping to win a large number of votes in favor of its proposal to highlight Washington’s isolation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

The revised draft drops an outright demand for an international protection mission and instead requests that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres present recommendations.

The new text “calls for the consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population” in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to the draft obtained by AFP.

General Secretary of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, delivers a speech at the Convention Palace in Havana, on May 8, 2018. (YAMIL LAGE/AFP)

It requests that Guterres present a report within 60 days on proposals for the protection of Palestinian civilians including the establishment of an international mission.

France and Britain, two veto-wielding council members, have complained that the draft resolution lacked details on the scope and objective of the proposed protection mission, diplomats said.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon has slammed the proposed resolution as “shameful” and said it was designed to help Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza and that openly seeks Israel’s destruction.

Kuwait put forward the draft resolution ten days ago after clashes during violent protests along the Gaza border led to the deaths of 62 Palestinians from Israeli fire, at least 53 of them members of terror organizations, and the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem.

The US maintained that the measure was biased against Israel during two expert-level meetings held last week, according to diplomatic sources.

A Palestinian demonstrator hurls stones during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip, east of Gaza City, on May 11, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Negotiations, however, have been tough going, with the Europeans and Africans pressing for more information on the proposed protection mission, according to diplomats.

Diplomats have said the Palestinians may turn to the UN General Assembly if the draft resolution on protection fails to win Security Council backing.

The council was due to meet Wednesday at the request of the US to discuss the firing of at least 110 rockets and mortar shells toward Israeli communities from Gaza within 24 hours.

Tuesday saw at least 70 projectiles launched into Israel from Gaza, as well as dozens of retaliatory strikes by the IDF against targets in the Strip, after weeks of soaring tensions. In an early morning mortar shell barrage, one shell exploded in the yard of a kindergarten shortly before children arrived.

Mortar shells fired from Gaza at southern Israel, May 29, 2018 (Twitter)

Thousands of Israelis spent the subsequent night in bomb shelters as terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired some 40 more rockets and mortars at communities near the coastal enclave early Wednesday, with several of them being intercepted by Iron Dome. There were no reports of injuries, but one projectile directly hit a house in the Eshkol region.

Washington has circulated a draft council statement that would condemn the firing of rockets by Palestinian terror factions in Gaza, but it remains unclear whether it will be approved.

Ahead of the emergency meeting, Israel’s UN envoy Danon called on the Security Council to officially designate Hamas as a terrorist organization.

“The fact that the Security Council is finally meeting to discuss the attacks by Hamas on the citizens of Israel is a positive development, but heinous acts of terror must be met with actions, not just words,” said Danon in a statement.

“I call on the Security Council to officially designate Hamas a terrorist organization. It is high time that the international community combat the Palestinian masterminds of terror with the same tools and same vigor they use against Al Qaeda and ISIS,” he concluded.

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