The United States on Saturday blocked a draft UN Security Council statement urging restraint and calling for an investigation of clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, diplomats said.
Kuwait, which represents Arab countries on the council, presented the proposed statement, which called for an “independent and transparent investigation” of the violence.
The draft council statement also expressed “grave concern at the situation at the border.” And it reaffirmed “the right to peaceful protest” and expressed the council’s “sorrow at the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.”
The Israeli military on Saturday night identified 10 of the 16 people reported killed during violent protests along the Gaza security fence as members of Palestinian terrorist groups, and published a list of their names and positions in the organizations.
The draft statement was circulated to the council on Friday, but on Saturday the United States raised objections and said it did not support its adoption, a Security Council diplomat told AFP.
The US mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request from AFP for comment.
The proposed statement also called “for respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including protection of civilians,” according to the draft seen by AFP.
Council members “called upon all sides to exercise restraint and prevent a further escalation,” the draft said. The proposed statement stressed the need to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.
The Palestinian Authority on Saturday blamed the US and Britain for obstructing the Palestinian and Arab effort to persuade the Security Council to issue a resolution blasting Israel for the 16 Palestinian fatalities.
Yusef al Mahmoud, spokesperson for the PA government in Ramallah, said that Washington’s and London’s opposition to a resolution condemning Israel “turns them into accomplices in the horrific massacre committed by the Israeli occupation army against our defenseless people.”
Mahmoud accused the US and Britain of displaying “bias in favor of oppression and suppression.” He claimed that the Friday protests were “peaceful marches and demonstrations” to mark the 42nd anniversary of Land day.
The Israeli government alone, he charged, was “directly responsible for this dreadful massacre, which resulted in 16 martyrs and hundreds of wounded.”
The Security Council held a closed meeting on Friday night to discuss the clashes along the Gaza-Israel border, despite a request from the US and Israel to postpone deliberations for Saturday due to Passover holiday eve.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Friday that he had instructed his envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, to ask the Security Council to provide “international protection” for the Palestinians.
On Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “those concerned to refrain from any act that could lead to further casualties.” He also called for an independent and transparent investigation into the deaths and injuries during Friday’s clashes.
Just in case anybody forgot, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the pre-1967 lines in 2005. It uprooted thousands of Israeli settlers from their homes. It dismantled all military infrastructure in the Strip. It has no physical presence there. It makes no territorial claims there.
Just in case anybody forgot, Hamas, an Islamist terrorist organization that avowedly seeks the destruction of Israel, seized power in Gaza in 2007 in a violent takeover from the forces of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Having attempted to terrorize Israel into capitulation with its strategic onslaught of suicide bombers in the Second Intifada, it has, since grabbing hold of Gaza, continued its efforts to terrorize Israel by firing thousands upon thousands of rockets indiscriminately across the border.
Were it not for the Iron Dome rocket defense system, much of Israel would, as Hamas had hoped, have been reduced to rubble.
Hamas has also been incessantly digging attack tunnels under the border — another terror avenue that Israel appears to have gradually been closing off with new technology and underground barriers.
Just in case anybody forgot, Hamas has cynically and relentlessly exploited Gazans — a large proportion of whom have supported it in elections — by storing its rockets near or even inside mosques and schools, firing rockets from residential areas, and digging tunnels from beneath homes and civilian institutions.
It has subverted all materials that can be utilized for the manufacture of weaponry, necessitating a stringent Israeli security blockade whose main victims are ordinary Gazans.
Organizing and encouraging mass demonstrations at the border in the so-called “March of Return” to face off against Israeli troops, while sanctimoniously and disingenuously branding the campaign non-violent, is merely the latest iteration of Hamas’s cynical use of Gazans as the human shields for its aggression.
Just in case anybody forgot, demanding a “right of return” to Israel for tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants is nothing less than a call for the destruction of Israel by demographic means.
No Israeli government could accept this demand, since it would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority state. Israel’s position is that Palestinian refugees and their descendants would become citizens of a Palestinian state at the culmination of the peace process, just as Jews who fled or were forced out of Middle Eastern countries by hostile governments became citizens of Israel.
Just in case anybody forgot, the late prime minister Ariel Sharon oversaw the wrenching withdrawal from Gaza out of a declared desire to set Israel’s permanent borders, and did so unilaterally because he concluded that he could not reach a negotiated agreement with the Palestinian leadership. Had Gaza remained calm, and Sharon remained healthy, it is likely he would have ordered a pullout from much of the West Bank as well — paving the path to Palestinian statehood.
Hamas, of course, is not interested in Palestinian independence. Again, it strives for the elimination of Israel.
So, finally, just in case anybody forgets the context for Friday’s latest escalation of violence, they need only listen to Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar setting out the ultimate goal.
As he put it in an address to Gazans at the border on Friday, “The March of Return will continue… until we remove this transient border.” The protests “mark the beginning of a new phase in the Palestinian national struggle on the road to liberation and ‘return’… Our people can’t give up one inch of the land of Palestine.”
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