US still blocks UNSC vote on Gaza

US rejects any statement that would single out Israel while Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip.

UN balloons 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
UN balloons 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
US objections to a draft UN Security Council presidential statement about the situation in Gaza continued Thursday, stalling an agreement in the United Nations Security Council for the third day in a row. Following a closed-door session, the 15-nation council decided to try to meet again later in the day, but some feared it would be hard for the US to hold out much longer. All members except for the US were said to have agreed upon revised language of the draft, while the US requested time for consultations. The US voiced disapproval of any statement that would single out Israel in the conflict with Hamas terrorists now controlling the Gaza Strip, and continued to push for more balanced language. A revised statement worked out by UN Security Council experts Wednesday urged "an immediate end to all acts of violence" in Gaza and southern Israel, including rocket attacks on the Jewish state. The new text, discussed by ambassadors later Wednesday, expressed the council's "deep concern about the recent violence affecting Gaza and southern Israel." It would call for "an immediate end to all acts of violence, including the firing of rockets into Israeli territory and all activities which are contrary to international law and endanger civilians," a reference to Israel's closure of the border crossings. But while the new draft makes mention of rockets targeting Israelis, it strengthened its condemnation of Israel, according to officials in the Israeli Mission, who said the current draft was "very bad" for Israel. Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman, who returned to New York Wednesday, cutting short a trup to Israel, said the mere occupation of the council with this matter was "unjustified" and played into the hands of Hamas. "I didn't see them rise up when thousands of Kassams were fired on Sderot, and I don't see why because of a Hamas spin, which makes things looks far worse, the whole international community should devote so much time," Gillerman told The Jerusalem Post. "By engaging, they are rewarding terror, doing Hamas's work, and doing what Hamas wants, which is undermining Abu Mazen and the peace process." Even a balanced text would not be justified, Gillerman said. "There is no way to balance terrorists and killers and a country trying to defend itself," he said. If the 15-member council could not reach a consensus necessary for the nonbinding agreement, Arab leaders threatened to propose a Security Council resolution which is binding and holds more weight than a presidential statement, and move discussions to the General Assembly. "If there is no outcome, the Arab group will meet to discuss consequences and options and we have a lot of other options," Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States Yahya A. Mahmassani told reporters. The Syrian ambassador blamed the US for trying to politicize the draft statement and thereby stall an agreement. "The American position politicizes it by incorporating new elements dealing with ideas of excusing Israelis for what they did in Gaza by mixing up cards, by saying rockets launched by Hamas are the reason. These rockets are the result of Israel's assassination of Palestinians in Gaza," Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar Ja'afar told reporters. As negotiations continued Thursday, the Jewish Community Relations Council laid 4,200 red balloons in front of the UN in an act of solidarity against the continuous missiles and rockets being fired from Gaza into Sderot and the surrounding area.