UN fails on statement on Palestinian deaths

Arab-Israel Relations Materials 24 June 2014 09:55 (UTC +04:00)

The U.N. Security Council failed Friday to agree on a statement that would have deplored the deaths of Palestinians in Israeli operations following the disappearance of three Israeli teenagers as the U.N. warned of increasing volatility in the decades-old Mideast conflict, AP reported.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the current council president, told reporters he proposed the press statement after listening to a Palestinian appeal for council action. But he said one council member wanted stronger language and one didn't want any reference to Israel, so unfortunately the council was not able to find "common ground."

Diplomats said Jordan insisted that "deploring" wasn't strong enough and U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the stronger language Jordan proposed went beyond the U.S. "strict red lines." The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the consultations were closed.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said he had delivered a letter to Churkin from the Palestinian leadership demanding that the Security Council "shoulder its responsibility" by "condemning this onslaught against our people and demanding a complete cessation immediately."

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council at an earlier open meeting that the situation on the ground had turned highly volatile following the suspension of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in late April and despite initial restraint on both sides.

He expressed alarm at the increasing Palestinian death toll from Israeli security operations, saying more than 350 Palestinians have reportedly been arrested, many injured and four killed.

"We condemn all killings of civilians and call for an investigation into any such deaths," Feltman said.

He also pointed to the intensive Israeli searches, tightened restrictions on Palestinian movements, the hunger strike by Palestinian detainees now in its 61st day, and new Israeli settlement building which is "illegal under international law,"

Feltman urged Israel to exercise restraint and not to punish Palestinians "for offenses they have not personally committed."

In the closed consultations, diplomats said the U.N. political chief expressed fear "we might get to the point of a third intifada."

Israel has accused the Islamic militant group Hamas of abducting the three youths in the West Bank on June 12 though it has presented no proof. Since their abduction, Israel has carried out the largest ground operation in the West Bank in nearly a decade and rounded up dozens of Hamas operatives freed in a 2011 prisoner swap in its search of the three yeshiva students.

"Israel will not allow this terrorist group to trample on its citizens," Israel's U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor said in a statement after the council meeting.

Prosor urged the international community to "remove the rose colored glasses" and recognize that the Palestinian unity deal between Hamas and Fatah is bad for peace, for the Palestinians and the Middle East.