Ethiopia, UK, Netherlands and Poland abstain

US vetoes Arab-backed resolution on Gaza at UN Security Council

Four other countries abstain in vote sponsored by Kuwait calling for international protection for Palestinians; US proposal condemning Hamas also fails to pass

The UN Security Council meets on April 14, 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP/HECTOR RETAMAL)
The UN Security Council meets on April 14, 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP/HECTOR RETAMAL)

NEW YORK  — The United States vetoed Friday an Arab-backed UN draft resolution calling for protective measures for the Palestinians that won backing from 10 countries at the Security Council. A US resolution condemning Hamas also failed.

China, France and Russia were among the countries that voted in favor of the draft put forward by Kuwait on behalf of Arab countries. Four countries, Ethiopia, the UK, the Netherlands and Poland abstained.

A draft resolution requires nine votes to be adopted in the 15-member council and no veto from the five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council the measure was “wildly inaccurate in its characterization of recent events in Gaza” by condemning Israel for the violence.

The Kuwait-drafted text had called for “measures to guarantee the safety and protection” of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, and requested a UN report to propose an “international protection mechanism.”

The US, meanwhile, brought its own text to the council: A proposal that would condemn Hamas for its role in the escalation of violence in Gaza in the last two months.

The United States was the only country that voted in favor of the draft resolution in the Security Council. Eleven countries abstained while Bolivia, Kuwait and Russia opposed it.

Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon lamented the failure of Washington’s motion, saying “Peace and stability will come to our region only when the international community is brave enough to call out the terrorists by name.”

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon attends a UN Security Council on May 15, 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York. AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL)

He condemned Kuwait’s “hypocritical” resolution that did not “even mention the terrorists of Hamas as the root cause of violence and unrest in our region.” However, he asserted that thanks to the Americans’ position, “the rules of the game are changing in the Security Council and that the double standard against Israel will not stand.”

The council met for a closed-door discussion before the vote Friday, after weeks of urgent discussions about the violence.

It was the second time that Haley has resorted to US veto power to block a UN measure on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In December, Haley vetoed a draft resolution that rejected President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem after all 14 other council members supported it.

Haley had vowed Thursday to veto Kuwait’s resolution. She called it “grossly one-sided and morally bankrupt” for demanding that the Israeli military halt “the use of any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” while not mentioning Hamas, the terror group that controls Gaza.

A council diplomat told The Associated Press the US proposed extensive amendments that would condemn Hamas for its role in the recent violence.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a UN Security Council emergency session on Israel-Gaza conflict at United Nations headquarter on May 30, 2018 in New York City. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP)

The Security Council has been deeply divided and paralyzed over dealing with the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the burst of violence in Gaza.

In two months of mass protests at the Gaza border, some 110 Palestinians were killed and thousands wounded by Israeli military fire. Dozens of the fatalities were members of terror groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad acknowledged. Israel said its troops were defending its border and accused Hamas of trying to carry out attacks under the cover of the protests.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad also bombarded southern Israel with rockets and mortar shells Tuesday, and Israel responded by striking targets throughout Gaza. Hamas said Wednesday it had agreed to a cease-fire with Israel.

The Kuwaiti draft resolution expresses “grave concern” at the increased violence and deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories and calls for urgent steps to ensure a “durable and fully respected cease-fire.”

It asks UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a written report within 60 days on ways to ensure “the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including recommendations about “an international protection mechanism.” The measure also urges humanitarian access and seeks “tangible steps” toward reconciliation between different Palestinian factions.

At Kuwait’s request, the council has held multiple emergency meetings on the border clashes. The US called an emergency session Wednesday on the barrage of rockets and mortars the day prior.

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought three wars since the Islamic group seized control of Gaza in 2007. Hamas seeks to destroy Israel, and has said the border protests are intended to erase the border and ultimately “liberate Palestine.”

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