Palestinians seek UN vote blaming Israel; US wants changes

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks to the General Assembly before a vote, to deplore Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, on June 13, 2018 in New York.(AFP / Don Emmert)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Palestinians seek UN vote blaming Israel; US wants changes

  • Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Tuesday night that he is lobbying 191 member states — all but the US and Israel — and expects to win.
  • The Palestinians and their supporters decided to go to the 193-member assembly, where there are no vetoes, after the US vetoed virtually the same resolution in the Security Council on June 1.

UNITED NATIONS: The Palestinians and their supporters are asking an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday to adopt a resolution blaming Israel for recent violence in Gaza — and the US is demanding that Gaza’s Hamas rulers be condemned as well.
The draft resolution proposed by Arab and Islamic countries deplores “any excessive use of force” by Israeli forces, particularly in Gaza, and demands that Israel “refrain from such actions.” It also seeks recommendations to protect Palestinian civilians.
The US says Israel is unfairly singled out in the draft and has proposed an amendment condemning Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and inciting violence along the Gaza-Israel border fence, “thereby putting civilians at risk.” ,
The Palestinians and their supporters decided to go to the 193-member assembly, where there are no vetoes, after the US vetoed virtually the same resolution in the Security Council on June 1. US Ambassador Nikki Haley called that Kuwait-sponsored resolution “grossly one-sided” for criticizing the use of force by Israel while not mentioning the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza.
Haley sent a letter to all UN member states Tuesday calling the proposed General Assembly resolution “fundamentally imbalanced” for “ignoring basic truths about the situation in Gaza” and not mentioning Hamas.
The proposed US amendment would also condemn the diversion of resources in Gaza to building tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to fire rockets and express “grave concern” at the destruction of the Kerem Shalom crossing point to Israel “by actors in Gaza.”
Haley said the amendment “is not controversial” and simply condemns “behavior we should all recognize as harmful to the Palestinian people.”
General Assembly spokesman Brendan Varma said Wednesday the world body would first hear speeches from member states. The amendment will then be put to a vote followed by the resolution, he said.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Tuesday night that he is lobbying 191 member states — all but the US and Israel — and expects to win.
While Security Council resolutions are legally binding, General Assembly resolutions are not, although Varma stressed that they do reflect “political will” as well as international opinion.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon issued a statement welcoming the US amendment.
“It is despicable for any country to even consider to vote for a resolution condemning Israel while refusing to support the condemnation of Hamas,” he said. Such behavior is hypocritical at best, and at worst amounts to openly emboldening an internationally recognized terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of countless of innocent people.”
The Palestinians sought a Security Council resolution after Israel’s military killed civilians during mass protests in Gaza aimed at the border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007 after Hamas overran the territory.
Since the near-weekly protests began March 30, more than 120 Palestinians have been killed and over 3,800 wounded by Israeli army fire. The overwhelming majority of the dead and wounded have been unarmed, according to Gaza health officials. Israel says Hamas has used the protests as cover for attacks on the border fence.
The marchers have also pressed demands for a “right of return” for descendants of Palestinian refugees to ancestral homes in what is now Israel. More than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled in the 1948 Mideast war over Israel’s creation. Two-thirds of Gaza’s 2 million residents are descendants of refugees.
The draft General Assembly resolution calls for “immediate steps toward ending the closure and the restrictions imposed by Israel on movement and access into and out of the Gaza Strip.”
It also “deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas,” but doesn’t say who is doing the firing.
The draft asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”
Standing with a half dozen Arab and Islamic supporters Friday, the Palestinian ambassador said Guterres “should utilize all the tools available to him in the (UN) Secretariat and on the ground, and with all of the collective mind of all of us who are ready and willing to help in any possible way.”


War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

Updated 22 July 2018
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War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

  • Any further escalation will deepen humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip: UN chief
  • Before the truce, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters

GAZA CITY: After seven chaotic and violent hours, quiet returned to the Gaza Strip Friday night. Yet on Saturday, civilians in the Palestinian enclave and Israel remained fearful of the potential for a new war.
The fatal shooting by a Palestinian sniper of an Israeli soldier during protests along the border on Friday sparked a widespread wave of Israeli bombing, with three fighters from Hamas killed and dozens of targets struck.
After intensive indirect mediation by the UN and Egypt, a truce came into force at midnight, yet both populations remained on high alert of another all-out conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“War is coming. I know that the (Israeli) occupation is carrying out raids to pave the way with their home base,” Somaya Rabaya, 21, from Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, said.
While the cease-fire deal included an end to rockets and mortars, it didn’t include a commitment by Hamas to stop what Israeli media have dubbed “terror kites,” a senior Hamas source said.
In a brief statement on Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the movement accepted the cease-fire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials and that calm had been restored. Later, the Israeli military announced a return to civilian routine along the volatile border.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “gravely concerned” about the escalation and called on both sides to step back from the prospect of another devastating conflict. “Any further escalation will endanger the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike, deepen the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and undermine current efforts to improve livelihoods,” he said.
On Saturday morning in Gaza, 17-year-old Wissam was with a number of other youths fitting kites with small bottles full of diesel, while sheltering behind a sandbank for fear of Israeli strikes. “This morning, they bombed a Hamas observation post near here. I was afraid they would hit us with a missile,” he said.
Israel says it has no interest is engaging in another war with Hamas, but says it will no longer tolerate the Gaza militant campaign of flying the incendiary devices into Israel.
On Friday, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters.
“The attack delivered a severe blow to the Hamas’ training array, command and control abilities, weaponry, aerial defense and logistic capabilities along with additional military infrastructure,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that the strikes “will intensify as necessary.”