Governance – Security Council
Amid Middle East Violence, Security Council Fails to Adopt Competing Resolutions on Israeli Force, Hamas Role in Conflict
1 June 2018
The Security Council today failed to adopt two competing draft resolutions on the recent spate of violence in the Middle East — put forward by the delegations of the United States and Kuwait on behalf of the Arab Group, respectively — capping a month of protests and escalating tension on the ground and within the 15 member organ itself.
By the terms of the draft put forward by the delegation of Kuwait — which was rejected by a vote of 10 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 4 abstentions (Ethiopia, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom), owing to a veto by one permanent member — the Council would have deplored Israel’s use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” against Palestinian civilians. Condemning the use by Israel Defense Forces of live ammunition against civilian protesters, it would have affirmed the Council’s willingness to respond to situations of armed conflict where civilians were targeted or where humanitarian assistance was being deliberately obstructed, including by considering appropriate measures in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
Meanwhile, a separate draft resolution submitted by the United States was also rejected by a vote of 1 in favour (United States) to 3 against (Bolivia, Kuwait, Russian Federation) with 11 abstentions, owing to an insufficient number of affirmative votes. By the terms of that text — containing various amendments to Kuwait’s draft — the Council would have described Hamas, the organization currently in power in Gaza, as a terrorist group. It would also have condemned in the strongest terms the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants in Gaza towards Israel on 29 May; demanded that Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other militant groups cease all provocative actions; and condemned the diversion of resources by those groups to construct military infrastructure intended to infiltrate Israel and launch rockets.
Those amendments departed significantly from the original Kuwaiti draft, by whose terms the Council would have demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, fully abide by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Also calling for the consideration of ways to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory — including in the Gaza Strip — it would have requested the Secretary General to submit a report in no more than 60 days on proposals to ensure the safety, protection and well being of Palestinian civilians living under Israeli occupation, including recommendations for an international protection mechanism.
In contrast, the amendments proposed by the United States would have asked the Secretary General to submit a report in no more than 60 days on the use, by such terrorist organizations as Hamas, of protesters for the purposes of incitement or to carry out violence in the past 90 days, with the goal of preventing such clashes in the future.
The representative of Kuwait, speaking after his delegation’s text was vetoed, expressed regret that today the Council had sent a message that the occupying Power could enjoy full immunity from international law as well as the Council’s own resolutions. The Council continued to proclaim that its responsibility was to protect civilians, but recent incidents had proven otherwise. In that regard, he called for an independent investigation into the recent events in Gaza and asked why Palestinians must continue to suffer while the world remained silent.
The representative of the United States said the Kuwaiti resolution represented a grossly one sided view of the situation on the ground. It was Hamas that bore the primary responsibility for the atrocious living conditions in Gaza, she said, noting that it had diverted humanitarian resources for military purpose and fired at least 70 rockets into Israel this week alone. Yet the Kuwaiti resolution sought to place all the blame on Israel and perpetuate the United Nations anti Israeli bias. Describing her delegation’s alternate text, she called on Council members to place blame on Hamas and recognize the reality that the group constituted a major obstacle to the peace process.
Bolivia’s representative declared: “Once again today, the Council has also become a kind of occupied territory” owing to the veto by one permanent member. Noting that the Kuwaiti draft resolution had been discussed broadly and at length — resulting in a balanced text — he said Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinian territory was the root cause of the Palestinians’ current dreadful situation. The only long term solution would be a two State solution with a free, sovereign and independent Palestinian State, within pre 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital…