UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Monday (Oct 16) rejected a Russian resolution condemning spiralling violence in the Middle East, with delegates refusing to back a motion that did not single out Hamas for its surprise attack on Israel that left at least 1,400 people dead.
The council huddled as Israel readied for an expected ground assault on the Gaza Strip, after air and artillery strikes that officials say have killed at least 2,750 people.
It also came as the White House said President Joe Biden would visit Israel on Wednesday, in a visit that is designed to balance support for a key ally with calls for restraint in its operations in Gaza.
Just four countries voted with Russia on its proposed text. Four others – including the US – voted against it, while six abstained.
A second text proposed by Brazil with unequivocal language condemning the Islamist group appeared to have broader support, and was expected to come to the vote on Tuesday evening, diplomats said.
Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said despite the failure, the resolution had spurred the council to action.
“It has contributed to launching a substantive discussion in the Security Council on this topic. Without our encouragement, everything would probably have been limited to empty discussions,” he said.
The United Kingdom, which joined the US in voting down the Russian proposal, criticized Moscow’s lack of consultation, and accused Russia of not making a serious attempt to find consensus.
“We cannot support a resolution which fails to condemn Hamas’ terror attacks,” Barbara Woodward told the council.
Israel’s Gilad Erdan said the Security Council, which has not adopted a resolution on the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories since 2016, stood at “one of its most pivotal crossroads” since its founding in the aftermath of World War II.
“Will the council support the fight for civilization? Or will it incentivize the genocide of Jihadists who aim to murder all the infidels?” he said.
“For a body dedicated to security, this shouldn’t even be a question.
“The first step this council must take before any calls for aid, calm or restraint is to designate Hamas as the murderous terror organization that it is.”
Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour said the council had a moral duty to act in a bid to restrain an Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip he said was claiming 12 lives every hour.
“Don’t send the signal that the Palestinian lives don’t matter,” he said.
“Don’t dare say Israel is not responsible for the bombs it is dropping over their heads.
“What is happening in Gaza is not a military operation. It is a full-scale assault against our people. It is massacres against innocent civilians.”
Israel has cut off supplies of water and power to the isolated Gaza Strip, and warned more than a million people to leave the north of the densely populated enclave.
The UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees has warned that the Gaza Strip faces an “unprecedented human catastrophe” if water and other vital supplies are not restored.