Security Council paralysed by US insistence on blaming Hamas
By Ma’an news/Reuters
November 22, 2012
UNITED NATIONS – The United States on Tuesday blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, setting the scene for a possible showdown between Washington and Russia on the issue.
The United States opposed the statement – which had to be approved by consensus – because it “failed to address the root cause,” missile attacks by Hamas – of the escalation in fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the US mission to the United Nations.
Israel said it was these Hamas rocket attacks that prompted its major offensive against the militants in Gaza on Wednesday.
“We made clear that we would measure any action by the Security Council based on whether it supported the ongoing diplomacy toward de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities,” Pelton said.
“By failing to call for the immediate and permanent halt to rocket launches from Gaza into Israel, this press statement failed to contribute constructively to those goals,” she said. “As such, we could not agree to this statement.”
Russia said on Monday that if the 15-member council could not agree on a statement then it would put a resolution – a stronger move by the council than a statement – to a vote later on Tuesday to call for an end to the violence and show support for regional and international efforts to broker peace.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said later on Tuesday his resolution had been put on hold amid negotiations on a truce between Israel and Hamas militants, but if a ceasefire was not reached he might still put it to a vote.
“I think we should have said something (on the conflict) a long time ago,” Churkin said. “We will assess the situation (on Wednesday morning).” The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet to discuss the conflict on Wednesday afternoon.
A resolution is passed when it receives nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the five permanent council members — Russia, China, Britain, the United States and France.
The Security Council is generally deadlocked on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which UN diplomats say is due to US determination to protect its close ally Israel. The council held an emergency meeting last Wednesday to discuss the Israeli strikes on Gaza but took no action.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed to the region on Tuesday to try to calm the conflict.
November 20, 2012
Russia has accused the United States of blocking a bid by the UN Security Council to condemn the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and said other council members were filibustering the issue.
The United States said, however, it was important that the 15-member council does not harm efforts under way in Cairo to broker a truce between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza.
The Security Council held heated closed-door negotiations on a possible statement, but diplomats said a sticking point was that the text did not mention Hamas missile attacks on Israel. Israel said it was these attacks that prompted its major offensive against the militants in Gaza.
Council members were consulting with their capitals on the draft statement, which needs to be approved by consensus, but several diplomats said it was unlikely an agreement would be reached by a Tuesday morning deadline.
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said that if the council could not agree, he would put a resolution – a stronger move by the council than a statement – to a vote on Tuesday to call for an end to the violence and show support for regional and international efforts to broker peace.
“One member of the Security Council, I’m sure you can guess which, indicated … they will not be prepared to go along with any reaction of the Security Council,” Mr Churkin said earlier in a thinly veiled reference to the United States.
“Somehow, allegedly, that could hurt the current efforts carried out by Egypt and the region,” he said.
A resolution is passed when it receives nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the five permanent council members – Russia, China, Britain, the United States and France.
Some diplomats said a vote on the Russian resolution would likely be tight and could force a veto by the United States.
The Security Council is generally deadlocked on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which UN diplomats say is due to the United States’ determination to protect its close ally Israel. The council held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Israeli strikes on Gaza but took no action.
US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said the United States would support a council statement if it “advances the goal of supporting an agreed cessation (of violence).”
“We think it’s vitally important that this council by its action or non-action is reinforcing the prospects of an agreed cessation (of violence) and not doing anything that could undermine that prospect or run counter to it,” Ms Rice said, referring to the truce negotiations in Cairo.
“That is our principal objective in these discussions,” she told reporters.
Palestinian UN observer, Riyad Mansour, said the council cannot “remain on the margin.”
“We emphasized the urgency of the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility and to stop this aggression against our people,” Mr Mansour told reporters after Monday’s negotiations.
Council diplomats, who did not want to be identified, said the United States’ UN delegation had been instructed by Washington not to engage in consultations on a statement by the Security Council.
France, Germany and Britain submitted amendments to the draft Security Council statement earlier, diplomats said, but Mr Churkin said too many changes had been proposed.
“Unfortunately it looked like a little bit of a filibustering attempt. Maybe I am mistaken, maybe it’s just a laid-back attitude in a situation where we cannot afford procrastination,” Mr Churkin told reporters after consultations.
One council diplomat described the filibustering accusation as “utter nonsense.”
By Peter James Spielmann, Associated Press
November 21, 2012
With a cease-fire announced in the Gaza crisis, the U.N. Security Council called off a formal open debate that had been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
The council had been silent since Israel launched air raids on Hamas in Gaza last Wednesday in response to months of Hamas rocket fire into Israel.
Arab nations had called for an open Security Council debate if a cease-fire was not arranged, and Russia was ready to introduce a resolution calling for a cease-fire.
Instead, the council held closed consultations, then heard a report by videoconference from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who since Monday has been talking with Middle East leaders.
Ban welcomed the cease-fire and said it was urgent that humanitarian aid be delivered to Gaza.
As the meeting ended, the council’s president this month, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, read out a press statement adopted by consensus welcoming the cease-fire and commending Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for helping achieve it. It also called for more humanitarian said to be delivered with the cooperation of Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. No mention was made of Hamas, which actually governs on the ground in Gaza.
The statement made no reference to who started or stoked the cycle of violence. The council had been paralyzed for days, while the violence raged, over U.S. refusal to approve a statement that did not refer to the months of Hamas rocket fire into Israel that led up to the Israeli air strikes. Britain and Germany also wanted to see some reference to the Hamas rocket fire in a statement.
In the end, no blame was assigned.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice also had made it clear that Washington did not want any council action or speeches to inflame passions or undermine the goal of mediating a cease-fire.
She came out after the council meeting to emphasize that the crisis began with “the escalating barrages of rockets launched from Gaza by Hamas and other terrorist organizations” into Israel. She mourned the Israeli and Palestinian casualties, and called for renewed work to push for the two-state solution establishing a Palestinian state, alongside Israel.