On May 12th, the UN Security Council tried to hold a second emergency meeting on the escalating situation in the West Bank between Israel and Gaza.
A joint statement wasn’t agreed due to opposition from the United States, Israel’s key ally.
According to several sources, 14 of the 15 members of the Council were in favour of adopting a joint declaration aimed at reducing tension.
However, the United States saw the Security Council meeting as a sufficient show of concern, diplomats told AFP on condition of anonymity, and did not think a statement would “help de-escalate” the situation.
“The United States has been actively engaged in diplomacy behind the scenes with all parties, and across the region, to seek to de-escalate the situation. At this stage, a Council statement would be counterproductive,” an anonymous CNA source said.
“The Palestinians have asked for a public meeting,” a diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The goal would be “to try to contribute to peace … and to have a Security Council able to express itself and to call for ceasefire,” another diplomat said, also on condition of anonymity.
Such a meeting could be organized as early as May 14th, by China, which currently presides over the Security Council.
In Washington, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that a US envoy would travel to the Middle East to seek to calm tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.
After the US move to block a Security Council statement, four Council members from Europe – Norway, Estonia, France and Ireland – issued their own joint statement.
“We condemn the firing of rockets from Gaza against civilian populations in Israel by Hamas and other militant groups which is totally unacceptable and must stop immediately,” the statement said.
“The large numbers of civilian casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and of Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza, are both worrying and unacceptable.
“We call on Israel to cease settlement activities, demolitions and evictions, including in East Jerusalem,” they wrote.
And Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour published a letter to the organization’s top officials in which he pleaded with them to “act with immediacy to demand that Israel cease its attacks against the Palestinian civilian population, including in the Gaza Strip.”
He also called for them to demand that Israel “cease all other illegal Israeli actions and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including a halt to plans to forcibly displace and ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the City”.
UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland had warned in the meeting that the “situation has deteriorated since Monday… there is a risk of a spiral of violence,” according to a diplomatic source.
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