US Reminds the World What Makes the UN Security [sic] Council a Joke

Posted: 4 January 2009 by Sayyid in International Affairs, Palestine-Israel
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In the latest case of US coddling Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), the US reportedly struck down a cease-fire in an emergency meeting of the UN Security [sic] Council last night:

The United States thwarted an effort by Libya on Sunday to persuade the UN Security Council to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza after Israel launched a ground invasion, diplomats said.

Several council diplomats told reporters that the U.S. refusal to back a Libyan-drafted demand for an immediate truce at a closed-door emergency session had killed the initiative, since council statements must be passed unanimously.

The text by Libya, the only Arab member of the council,expressed “serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza, in particular, after the launching of the Israeli ground offensive” and called on all parties “to observe an immediate ceasefire.” Arab nations demanded Saturday night that the UN Security Council call for an immediate cease-fire following Israel’s launch of a ground offensive in Gaza, a view echoed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The United Nations Security Council held emergency consultations late Saturday to address the escalation of violence in Gaza….

“Israel cannot continue to behave as a state above international law – this is the law of the jungle,” [Riyad Mansour, the permanent Palestinian observer to the United Nations, told reporters].

Mansour added that it was crucial for the council to adopt a statement calling for an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

It was not clear if Washington would back the Libyan text in its current form.

The United States and Libya have clashed repeatedly on the Israeli-Palestinian issue over the last 12 months since Libya joined the Council and the United States has tried to keep the topic off the agenda whenever possible….

Ban has urged key world leaders to intensify efforts to achieve an immediate Israeli-Hamas cease-fire that includes international monitors to enforce a truce and, possibly, to protect Palestinian civilians.

Ban “is convinced and alarmed that this escalation will inevitably increase the already heavy suffering of the affected civilian populations,” the statement said. He asked that Israel ensure civilian safety and allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, according to the statement.

The secretary-general urged regional and international partners to “exert all possible influence to bring about an immediate end to the bloodshed and suffering.”


Libyan Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi said the United States during the discussions late Saturday objected to “any outcome” on the proposed statement.

He said efforts were made to compromise on a weaker press statement but there was no consensus. Several other council members, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations were closed, also said the U.S. was responsible for the council’s failure to issue a statement.

The U.S., Israel’s closest ally, has designated Hamas a terrorist organization. U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States saw no prospect of Hamas abiding by last week’s council call for an immediate end to the violence. Therefore, he said, a new statement “would not be adhered to and would have no underpinning for success, (and) would not do credit to the council.”

Arab nations demanded that the council adopt a statement calling for an immediate cease-fire and expressing “serious concern at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation in Gaza and southern Israel,” a view echoed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

If it had been approved, the statement would have become part of the council’s official record but would not have the weight of a Security Council resolution, which is legally binding.

Egypt’s U.N. Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz said it was regrettable that one permanent council member — a clear reference to the U.S. — refused to accept any statement at a time when “the aggression is escalating and more people are dying and the military attack on the ground is at its full scale.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. observer, said: “We have war. We have aggression against the Palestinian people, and it is a sad and tragic moment when the Security Council cannot address this issue by at least demanding from Israel … to stop this aggression immediately.”

British Ambassador John Sawers said he was “very disappointed” as PM Gordon Brown has called for an “immediate cease-fire” agreement that includes a stop to Hamas rockets, arms trafficking, and border regulations staing that “Israel needs to be secure and Palestine needs to be viable.”

The new draft seemed aimed at answering those concerns, as the British government suggested everyone was open to a resolution if the terms were right.

Yet this seems not to have been the case, and the US rejection this time appears to have nothing to do with the terms of the draft, and everything to do with the fact that it would call on Israel to stop its invasion. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the United States can veto any resolution, and has traditionally done so when the resolution would stand in the way of Israeli military action.

Meanwhile, the death toll has risen above 500, including 87 children, and more than 2,450 wounded. and nothing from the US states conditions addressing Israel’s violations of IHL as have come from the EU:

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, on Sunday pledged an additional $4.2 million of emergency aid for Gaza and called on Israel to respect international law.

“Blocking access to people who are suffering and dying is also a breach of humanitarian law,” Louis Michel, EU’s humanitarian aid commissioner, said in a statement.

“I call on the Israeli authorities to respect their international obligations and ensure a ‘humanitarian space’ for the delivery of vital relief,” he said.

The same article quotes the US State Department as saying “it told the Israeli government that any military action should be ‘mindful of the potential consequences to civilians’.” Leaving out references to IHL is a result of carefully crafted statements. Were the US to mention IHL, they’d be contradictory to not condemn Israel’s actions being executed with US supplies. Still no word from the president-elect, yet, “we don’t have one president at a time when it comes to the economy or Iraq or Afghanistan or other issues.”


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