UN Security Council members condemn Hamas for Israel attack, but not unanimously

Senior US diplomat alludes to Russia not joining the condemnation in closed-door session; China says it will support joint statement on ‘all attacks against civilians’

Illustrative: A meeting of the United Nations Security Council on New York City on September 21, 2023. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP)
Illustrative: A meeting of the United Nations Security Council on New York City on September 21, 2023. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP)

UNITED NATIONS — Numerous members of the UN Security Council denounced the Hamas terror group on Sunday over its massive assault on Israel but the United States regretted a lack of unanimity.

At an emergency session, the United States urged strong condemnation of the Palestinian Islamists, who rule the blockaded Gaza Strip and launched a surprise assault on Saturday that killed at least 700 people and wounded over 2,000.

“There are a good number of countries that condemned the Hamas attacks. They’re obviously not all,” senior US diplomat Robert Wood told reporters after the closed-door session.

“You could probably figure out one of them without me saying anything,” said Wood, in a clear allusion to Russia, whose relations with the West have deteriorated sharply since its invasion of Ukraine.

Diplomats said the Security Council did not consider any joint statement, let alone a binding resolution, with members led by Russia hoping for a broader focus than condemning Hamas.

“My message was to stop the fighting immediately and to go to a ceasefire and to meaningful negotiations, which was told for decades” by the Security Council, said Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations.

Ambassador Robert Wood, who was appointed by US President Joe Biden as Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations exits the room after taking part in the United Nations Security Council on October 8, 2023 at UN Headquarters in New York City (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP)

“This is partly the result of unresolved issues,” he said.

China, generally Russia’s ally at the Security Council, said it would support a joint statement.

“It’s abnormal that the Security Council doesn’t say anything,” said Ambassador Zhang Jun, who earlier promised Chinese support for a condemnation of “all attacks against civilians.”

Ahead of the session, Israel’s ambassador, Gilad Erdan, showed graphic pictures of Israeli civilians being taken captive by Hamas.

“These are war crimes — blatant, documented war crimes,” Erdan told reporters outside of the Security Council.

“This unimaginable — unimaginable — atrocity must be condemned” by the Security Council, he said.

“Israel must be given steadfast support to defend ourselves — to defend the free world.”

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan attends a meeting of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee at UN headquarters on Friday, November 11, 2022. (AP/Jeenah Moon)

The Palestinian ambassador — who represents the West Bank-centered Palestinian Authority and not rival Hamas — called on the Security Council to focus on ending Israeli military rule.

“Regrettably, history for some media and politicians starts when Israelis are killed,” said the envoy, Riyad Mansour.

“This is not a time to let Israel double down on its terrible choices. This is a time to tell Israel it needs to change course, that there is a path to peace where neither Palestinians nor Israelis are killed.”

The Palestinian Authority and Israel were not part of the closed-door meeting, as neither are currently members on the Security Council.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates — which normalized relations with Israel as part of a landmark 2020 deal — expected more Security Council meetings on the crisis.

“I think everyone understands that today the situation is one of grave concern,” said the UAE ambassador, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh.

“Many members of the Council believe that a political horizon leading to a two-state solution is the only way to finally solve this conflict,” she said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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