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US for 3rd time blocking Security Council joint statement calling for ceasefire — diplomats tell ToI

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield at UN Headquarters in New York, on March 1, 2021. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)
US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield at UN Headquarters in New York, on March 1, 2021. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

NEW YORK — For the third time in a week, the US is blocking a joint statement from the Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, two diplomats involved tell The Times of Israel.

The statement was introduced by Norway, Tunisia and China following today’s emergency session on the escalation in Israel and Gaza and criticized both sides for the ongoing violence.

The US mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter. Member states still have until Monday at noon to mull over statement, and negotiations over the matter are ongoing, two Security Council diplomats told ToI.

During the open meeting, the US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the US is “working tirelessly through diplomatic channels to try and bring an end to this conflict.”

In her remarks to the council, Thomas-Greenfield called on Hamas to immediately stop firing rockets at Israel. Notably, she did not mention Israel’s right to defend itself, as senior US officials have emphasized in their respective statements on the violence this past week. Critics in the progressive wing of the party claimed the statement offered a blank check to Israel to continue its counterstrikes in Gaza, even as the civilian casualty toll grew.

The UN Security Council holds an emergency session on the violence in Israel and Gaza on May 16, 2021. (Screen capture/UN)

Fourteen of the 15 Security Council members sought to issue a joint statement, which requires unanimous approval, after closed emergency meetings on Monday and Wednesday. They were rebuffed by the US, which said it wanted more time for its own diplomatic efforts to play out, according to several Security Council diplomats. The statement would have called for an immediate ceasefire while condemning both sides for the violence.

When council members moved to hold another meeting at the of last week, the US mission blocked the effort for the same reason, saying it preferred to wait until Tuesday. After pressure from multiple missions, the US agreed to move up the meeting to Sunday.

Asked after the meeting if the US planned to back the joint statement being drafted, an official at the US mission told ToI that “right now we are focused on the intensive diplomatic efforts underway, including those Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield discussed at today’s Security meeting.”

Speaking to reporters following the emergency session, Mona Juul from Norway’s foreign ministry said her government “strongly believes that the Security Council should speak with one voice and send a clear message urging an immediate cessation of violence and reconfirming our support to the two-state solution. Norway will continue our dedicated efforts to pursue council action.”

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