Israel, US attempt to block Security Council resolution on Gaza international force
Palestinians, with Kuwait acting as intermediary, prepare draft resolution on stationing force in Gaza Strip; Israel's Ambassador Danon calls move 'support for Hamas's war crimes'; US intends to veto motion if necessary, prompting Palestinians to reach for non-binding resolution in General Assembly instead.
The Israeli-American push was intended to head off Palestinian attempts to secure the nine country majority—out of the Security Council's 15 member states—needed to pass the resolution.
The current council makeup could be said to be especially troublesome in this regard—with African, Asian and Latin American countries having a significant majority—giving Palestinians a more than fair chance of passing the resolution in its current wording.
If that eventuality comes to pass, US Ambassador Nikki Haley has already promised to her Israeli counterpart Danny Danon that the US will exercise its veto power.
If the US does veto the pro-Palestinian measure, the Palestinian delegation has announced they will summarily appeal to the organization's General Assembly and pass it there, where they enjoy something of an automatic majority.
However, unlike the Security Council, the General Assembly's resolutions are merely declarative in nature and it lacks any concrete means to implement its resolutions.
Regardless, the Palestinians are set to commence a round of consultations Monday in anticipation of the vote, which will most likely take place Wednesday.
The original draft resolution was submitted by Security Council member Kuwait, with the text speaking of defending civilians in zones of armed conflict and denouncing Israel for its excessive use of live fire against civilian protesters and for the killing and wounding of many civilians, including children, doctors and journalists.
The demonstrations, the draft resolution said, were part and parcel of Palestinians' rights to peaceful protests. the resolution further called to strengthen the protection of Gaza's citizenry, by such measures as stationing an international defense force in the region and the removal of the Gaza blockade.
Ambassador Danon commented on the Palestinian efforts, characterizing them as "cynicism and attempts to distort reality" that have "reached a new low."
"Israel will continue protecting its sovereignty and its citizens' safety from Hamas's deadly terror and violence," the envoy said.
"Kuwait's disgraceful draft resolution is a resolution of support for Hamas's war crimes against Israel and against Gaza's residents, who are being sent to their deaths for the sake of preserving Hamas's hold on power," Danon added.
The UN Human Rights Council censures Israel
The Security Council tug of war was preceded by a session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the matter Friday, and an instruction to immediately launch an independent probe into the killing of rioters in the Gaza border clashes.
Meeting in a special session in Geneva, the council voted 29-2 with 14 abstentions to back a resolution that also condemned "the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians."
The US and Australia voted against the measure, while Spain, Slovenia and Belgium—all members of the European Union—voted in favor, which incensed Israel.
Perhaps most surprising, however, was Mexico voting in favor of the commission of inquiry, as Israel had become closer with the North American country in the past few years and seemingly succeeded in breaking up a pattern of years of anti-Israel votes cast in the international body.
Following the motion's passage, UNHRC Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein will appoint the multinational commission to inquire into "violations of human rights and international law in the occupied Palestinian territories."
Al-Hussein called on the committee to focus especially on Gaza and on events since the protests began on March 30.
The goal of the probe, the council said, was to "put together recommendations, especially punitive measures, to put an end to the reprieve and to ensure a legal accounting, including individual criminals (meaning IDF soldiers) and others responsible, and to bring the information to the council in the form of written and oral reports."
The Human Rights Council then called on Israel to put an immediate stop to all exercises of strength in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip while also calling on Palestinian protesters to limit themselves to non-violent protest and to avoid provocations.
Israel, for its part, was required by the council to put an end to the Gaza "siege," which it said constituted collective punishment. The council also called to reopen all border crossings into the strip to the movement of civilians, humanitarian aid and goods.