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Thursday, June 24, 2021

US blocks UN Security Council meeting as Palestine-Israel violence rages on

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The United States has blocked a public UN Security Council meeting to discuss and issue a statement regarding the escalating violence between Israel and Palestine, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.

Days after objecting to a statement on behalf of the Security Council, the US has now moved to prevent a meeting from taking place on Friday that Tunisia, Norway and China proposed.

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China, heading the UN Security Council for May, later announced that there would be no meeting on Friday without elaborating.

Sources familiar with the US approach said Washington continues to believe that a meeting will not help the ongoing violence. “The US would have to stop the Council from issuing any statement,” as it is widely expected a gathering of the member states would result in a “statement bashing Israel,” one source told Al Arabiya English.

US officials have been holding calls with Palestinian and Israeli officials as well as with leaders of regional states that have ties with Palestine and Tel Aviv. Issuing any statement that does not lead to progress in de-escalating violence is considered a waste of time and effort by Washington.

Hady Amr, the top US diplomat in charge of Israeli-Palestinian affairs, headed to the region Thursday to meet with Palestinian and Israeli officials.

President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan all held separate calls with their Israeli counterparts on Wednesday.

Biden also sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, while Blinken spoke to Abbas on the phone.

The 15-nation Security Council met virtually behind closed doors twice this week as violence spilled over from the Al-Aqsa Mosque with rockets being fired by the Islamist Hamas movement and Israeli forces bombarding Gaza with airstrikes.

An initial draft statement by Tunisia and Norway – seen by Al Arabiya English – had language condemning both Palestinian factions and Israel while also condemning Tel Aviv for its excessive force against peaceful protesters.

One senior diplomat told Al Arabiya that it was “unacceptable for the Security Council to follow the developments and not to release a statement.”

But after one week of fighting, the violence appears to continue escalating and civilian deaths increase by the day.

Read more: US steps up diplomacy as rockets, air strikes rain over cities in Palestine, Israel

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