UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly was set to vote on Wednesday on condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza in a resolution opposed by the United States, which wants the world body to blame Hamas for the violence.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley slammed the Arab-backed measure as “fundamentally imbalanced” for its failure to mention Hamas and has proposed an amendment that condemns the Palestinian militant group. “Any resolution focused on the protection of civilians in Gaza must recognize the destabilizing and reckless actions of Hamas, which endanger the lives and livelihoods of innocent civilians,” Haley wrote in a letter sent to fellow ambassadors on the eve of the vote.
At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during protests near the border with Gaza that began at the end of March. No Israelis have died.
The Arab-drafted text deplores Israel’s use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” against Palestinian civilians and calls for protection measures for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
The 193-nation assembly is expected to vote first on the US-drafted amendment condemning Hamas for “inciting violence” along the border with Gaza before the vote on the resolution. Diplomats said Algeria, which presented the draft resolution with Turkey, could push for a “no-action” motion to block a vote on the US amendments.
Despite the maneuvers, the Arab-backed resolution is expected to be adopted, but it remains unclear whether a strong majority will support it in the face of strong US opposition.
The General Assembly last held a similarly contentious vote on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in December, when it rejected President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.
Haley had warned at the time that Washington was “taking names” of countries that supported the resolution. The vote was 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions. Backed by Arab countries, the Palestinians are lobbying to win as many votes as those cast in support of the Jerusalem resolution.
Western diplomats, however, expect a large number of abstentions, including among European Union countries which are divided over the issue.
The outcome will provide an indication of global opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis as the Security Council remains deadlocked on how to respond to the violence.
The resolution would task UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with the drafting of proposals for an “international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. These could range from setting up an observer mission to a full-blown peacekeeping force, but action on any option would require backing from the Security Council, where the United States has veto power.
Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2018
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