UN Security Council to discuss worsening Israel-Palestinian conflict

The meeting is due to take place on Sunday

Eleanor Sly@eleanor_sly
Saturday 15 May 2021 17:02
Palestinians and Israeli security forces clashed on the streets of Hebron in West Bank

The United Nations security council is to meet on Sunday to discuss the violence between Israel and Palestine.

This comes after the United States, an ally of Israel, objected to the meeting being held on Friday as initially proposed.

The US had suggested postponing the virtual meeting to Tuesday, in the hope that waiting a few days may allow the situation to resolve on its own, but a compromise was reached for a meeting on Sunday instead.

Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said on Thursday that he hoped waiting a few days would allow for “diplomacy to have some effect and to see if indeed we get a real de-escalation”.

He added that Washington was “open to and supportive of a discussion, an open discussion, at the United Nations.” The US has also sent an envoy to the region, over fears that the situation could spiral out of control.

When a date for the meeting was agreed on, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, posted on Twitter saying: “The US will continue to actively engage in diplomacy at the highest levels to try to de-escalate tensions.”

The meeting will be public and is thought will include both Israeli and Palestinian participants, AFP reported.

The Council has so far held two video conferences since Monday, in the hope of helping to keep the peace in the region, with the Palestinians pushing for a third, according to an anonymous diplomat.

Another diplomat said anonymously that the goal of a new meeting is “to try to contribute to peace... and to have a Security Council able to express itself and to call for ceasefire,” reported AFP.

The US has opposed the adoption of a joint declaration saying it would be “counterproductive” and supporting Israel’s demand to refuse to let the Security Council get involved in the conflict.

According to several sources, 14 of the 15 members of the Council were in favour of the proposal to adopt a joint declaration aimed at reducing tension on Wednesday, with the UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric saying: “Any international situation will always benefit from a strong and unified voice from the Security Council.”

The Council, which represents world peace, is currently made up of China, France, Russia, the UK, the US, Estonia, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Niger, Norway, Tunisia, Vietnam and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Indeed, several members have issued their own joint statement, as frustrations grow, with Norway, Estonia, France and Ireland saying: “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.”

Meanwhile the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, published a letter to top officials at the organisation on Wednesday, pleading with them to “act with immediacy to demand that Israel cease its attacks against the Palestinian civilian population, including in the Gaza Strip”.

In the letter, Mr Mansour also called on the UN to demand 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.”

The most intense hostilities in seven years have sparked fears that the violence between Israel and Palestine may descend into a full-scale war.

Indeed, truce efforts so far put forward by the United Nations, Egypt and Qatar have offered no signs of progress.

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