US vetoes UN resolution calling for protection of Palestinians in Gaza

The UN Security Council failed to adopt two competing draft resolutions

US vetoes UN resolution calling for protection of Palestinians in Gaza

The UN Security Council considers the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question | Image: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

The United States has used its United Nations Security Council veto to dash a resolution which called for the protection of Palestinians in Gaza.

The council failed to adopt two competing draft resolutions on Friday.

One was produced by Kuwait, in response to the killing of dozens of Palestinian protestors in Gaza, and the other tabled by the United States, which vetoed the initial resolution claiming it was "grossly one-sided" against Israel.

The UN has repeatedly called for calm along the border of the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians participated in the 'Great March of Return' from March 30th to May 15th.

At least 60 Palestinians were killed at the border fence on May 14th by Israel security forces, who fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas.

They were protesting United States recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and the official opening of its embassy there.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said at that time that "Israel has a responsibility to calibrate its use of force, to not use lethal force, except as a last resort."

Mr Mladenov also called on Hamas, the extremist militant group which controls Gaza, not to use the protests as an excuse for carrying out violent attacks at the border, and to provoke Israeli forces. 

A Palestinian woman during a protest near the Gaza Strip's border with Israel | Image: Sameh Rahmi/NurPhoto/Sipa USA

The draft proposed by Kuwait got 10 votes in favour, but the US vetoed the text - which it said failed to mention Hamas and the group’s responsibility for protecting civilians.

Four countries abstained.

The draft would have urged the council to consider "measures to guarantee the safety and protection" of Palestinian civilians and requests a report from the UN Secretary-General on a possible "international protection mechanism."

The US version would have called on Hamas and Islamic Jihad to "cease all violent activity and provocative actions, including along the boundary fence."

This text did not get any support except from the US itself, with three Security Council members rejecting it and 11 abstaining.

Several members said the US text was tabled without prior consultation, and did not take into account the overall context of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Before voting on the Kuwaiti text, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said that the terrorist group Hamas bore primary responsibility for the "awful" living conditions faced by civilians in Gaza.

Nikki Haley is seen during a UN Security Council meeting in January 2018 | Image: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

"A necessary precondition for peace is recognition of reality. One of those realities is that Hamas is a major impediment to peace.

"They are in charge of Gaza, and they use their resources not to help the people of Gaza but to wage war against Israel," she said.

"Another reality is when the United Nations sides with terrorists over Israel, as the Kuwait resolution does, it only makes a peaceful resolution of this conflict harder to reach," she added.

The failed resolution had been submitted on behalf of the Arab countries and was supported by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at its recent summit in Istanbul.