PA calls for invalidation of American vetoes at Security Council

After Washington blocks statement on Gaza, Ramallah claims council held ‘hostage,’ risks ‘losing what’s left of its credibility’

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) speaks at the United Nations Security Council on February 20, 2018. (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) speaks at the United Nations Security Council on February 20, 2018. (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday called to devise a “new formula” that would deny the US the right to veto resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.

The appeal came after the US on Friday blocked a Security Council statement supporting the right of Palestinians to “demonstrate peacefully” and endorsing Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for an independent investigation into deadly protests in the Gaza Strip.

In response to the latest US move, the PA Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Ramallah called on UN members and the international community to “search for a new formula that would invalidate US vetoes and objections if they are found to be in violation of the goals, principles, and conventions on which the international system was established.”

The ministry noted that the US move came in spite of the fact that the proposed resolution was “non-binding and modest.”

The PA ministry said that unless such a formula was devised, the Security Council will remain a “helpless hostage in light of blind American bias in favor of the occupation and will lose what’s left of its credibility.”

The PA ministry warned that failure to do so would “legitimize the law of the jungle and the concepts of bullying and power.”

US “bias” in favor of Israel, it added, constitutes “intentional protection and direct covering of the ongoing massacre perpetrated by the occupation authorities against our people who are participating in the peaceful March of Return along the borders of the Gaza Strip.”

Palestinian protestors use slingshots to throw stones towards Israeli security forces during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border in the southern Gaza Strip on April 6, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

According to the PA ministry, US support for Israel at the UN is also an “extension of hostile American positions against our people and rights, a continuation of its attempts to thwart any joint Palestinian-Arab moves at the Security Council, and a translation of its political positions and projects aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause.”

Hamas also condemned the US move at the Security Council. Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for the terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, accused the US of being “complicit in the aggression on our people.” He also accused the US of “encouraging the occupation to continue with its crimes.”

On Friday, Kuwait, which represents Arab countries on the council, circulated a draft press statement to member states that reaffirmed Palestinians’ right to peaceful protest, called for an independent and transparent probe of the clashes over the past week, and urged for restraint on both sides.

On Twitter, Kuwait’s UN mission said the UNSC “should address this matter and have a unified positions…. What is happening is a violation of international law.”

An injured Palestinian protestor is carried by fellow demonstrators during clashes with Israeli security forces near the border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 6, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters at UN headquarters in New York on Friday evening that 14 of the 15 council nations agreed to the statement, but the US, Israel’s closest ally, objected.

It was the second move of its kind by the US, which blocked a similar motion last Friday after the first so-called March of Return along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Kuwait presented that statement as well, which called for an “independent and transparent investigation” of the violence. It also expressed “grave concern at the situation at the border.” And it reaffirmed “the right to peaceful protest” and expressed the council’s “sorrow at the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.”

Some 20,000 Gazans participated in Friday’s second successive Hamas-backed “March of Return” at the Gaza border. The army said protesters burned tires and threw bombs, Molotov cocktails, and rocks at Israeli soldiers. Several attempts were made to breach the border fence. Soldiers responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and in some cases live fire. Palestinians said nine Gazans were killed and over 1,000 wounded in the clashes.

An Islamist terror group, Hamas violently took control of Gaza from Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah in 2007, two years after Israel withdrew its military and civilian presence from the Strip. Israel and Egypt maintain a security blockade of Gaza. Israel says this is vital to prevent Hamas — which has fought three rounds of conflict against Israel since seizing Gaza, firing thousands of rockets into Israel and digging dozens of attack tunnels under the border — from importing weaponry.

TOI Staff and Agencies contributed to this report.

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