Israel, U.S. to boycott UN rights council meet on Gaza blockade
Israel lobbying Security Council to soften statement on Gaza blockade; U.S. blocks binding censure of Israel.
Israel and the United States are expected to boycott a special United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip, in the wake of Jerusalem's decision to close Gaza crossings.
This would be the first time that Israel has boycotted a session of the Human Rights Council, in a sign of rising tensions between Israel and UN institutions.
The council will meet Wednesday at the request of Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, to discuss the closure of the crossings as well as Israel's recent military strikes in Gaza.
The draft proposal submitted to the council angered Jerusalem, which views it as one-sided due to the fact that it fails to mention the massive Qassam rocket fire on Sderot and other western Negev communities.
Israel urged other countries to follow suit, although only the U.S. agreed to do so.
Israel urging Security Council to soften statement on Gaza crisis Meanwhile, Israel is lobbying the UN Security Council to soften the language of a presidential statement denouncing the Gaza closure, which is expected to be issued Wednesday.
Israel argues that the draft statement is utterly one-sided, and UN sources said that both the United States and Britain back Israel's objections, while other council members are also uncomfortable with the current language.
The council held an emergency session Tuesday on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, at the Arab states' request, and the debate was expected to continue far into the night.
Noting the ongoing rocket barrages from Gaza on Sderot, Israeli representative Gilad Cohen demanded at Tuesday's session: "What would Security Council members do if London, Moscow, Paris or Tripoli were being bombed? Would you continue to sit with folded hands?"
Riad Mansour, the PLO observer at the UN, countered by accusing Israel, "the occupying power," of "cruel and illegal behavior" that "endangers the lives of millions" of Palestinians and "undermines the chances for peace."
The initial draft circulated Tuesday demanded an immediate halt to Israel's "illegal" actions against Gaza's civilian population, expressed "grave concern" over the deteriorating humanitarian situation there and demanded that Israel honor its obligations under international law.
The decision to issue a nonbinding presidential statement came after the U.S. indicated that it opposed a formal resolution denouncing Israel.