UN Security Council to continue engaging on Israeli-Palestinian conflict, envoys say

UAE ambassador says members received ‘concerning’ update on West Bank violence in private session, the third emergency meet since Netanyahu established government 2 months ago

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

UN Ambassadors Vanessa Frazier of Malta, Lana Nusseibeh of the UAE and Permanent Palestinian Observer Riyad Manour during a press stakeout outside the UN Security Council in New York on February 28, 2023. (Screen capture/UN TV)
UN Ambassadors Vanessa Frazier of Malta, Lana Nusseibeh of the UAE and Permanent Palestinian Observer Riyad Manour during a press stakeout outside the UN Security Council in New York on February 28, 2023. (Screen capture/UN TV)

The United Nations Security Council will continue to engage on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so long as tensions between the sides continue to escalate, members said Tuesday, after the panel held its third emergency session to discuss the issue since the establishment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government two months ago.

“The countries around the table agreed that the escalation of tensions needs to be something we’re kept abreast of and that we should try to see if there are ways that we can stop any incitement to further violence and to promote dialogue,” Malta’s Ambassador to the UN Vanessa Frazier told reporters after the completion of a closed session that was convened at the request of the United Arab Emirates to discuss the deadly violence that took place earlier this week in the West Bank.

Two Israeli brothers were shot dead while driving through the Palestinian town of Huwara on Sunday. Hours later, hundreds of settlers carried out a rampage through the town hours later, burning cars and buildings, with one Palestinian killed in as-yet unclear circumstances. On Monday, an Israeli-American was shot dead by Palestinian gunmen near Jericho.

Frazier’s remarks, which were reiterated by UAE Ambassador Lana Nusseibah, follow pushback from Israeli officials over the council’s focus on Israel, with Jerusalem arguing that it is disproportionate and biased against it.

Nusseibah said that council members received a “concerning” briefing on the latest escalations from the UN’s Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland, who told them that “the lack of a political horizon [for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal] is causing a continual cycle of violence and reprisals on the ground.”

“Council members all spoke with one voice in the room encouraging de-escalation, urging no further unilateral actions, urging protection of civilians,” she added.

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers speak with Israeli settlers in the West Bank town of Huwara near Nablus on February 27, 2023. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)

Speaking after her, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said the Security Council has an obligation to find ways to “provide protection” for Palestinian civilians after the settler rampage in Huwara.

Mansour said it would have been helpful for Security Council representatives to visit Huwara so they could “see with their own eyes (and) feel the horror in the minds and hearts of children and mothers and their families.”

“We will continue knocking on the door of the Security Council, not only to speak in one voice, but to take further steps,” Mansour said.

In addition to convening two other emergency sessions — one after far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir visited the flashpoint Temple Mount and another after a deadly IDF raid in the Palestinian city of Jenin — the Security Council has held two mandated monthly sessions for briefings on the conflict. After the most recent one last week, members adopted a rare presidential statement condemning Israeli settlement activity.

The Palestinian mission had pushed the council to adopt a resolution, but the US pressured members to suffice with the more symbolic presidential statement, two diplomats for countries on the panel confirmed to The Times of Israel. Still, the statement was the first of its kind in nine years.

The decision to hold Tuesday’s emergency session was blasted by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, who claimed in a statement that the Security Council “continues to ignore the murderous terrorist attacks and the Palestinian incitement.”

“Council members close their eyes to the daily and incessant terrorism that claims the lives of innocent Israelis and deal obsessively — like puppets on a string — only with the demands of the Palestinians,” he said.

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