Jerusalem and Washington are trying to prevent the UN Security Council from condemning Israel’s air offensive in the Gaza Strip, in which dozens of Palestinian civilians have been killed, Israeli diplomats said Thursday. The Security Council is due to meet at 10 A.M. New York time to discuss the fighting between Israel and Hamas.
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On Wednesday delegates from Muslim countries met with Rwanda’s ambassador, who currently holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency. The delegates were granted their request for an emergency meeting on the escalation in Gaza, part of which will be open.
At the session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to describe the situation in Gaza and detail his contacts with both sides. Ban spoke by phone Wednesday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. At the Security Council, Ban’s comments are expected to be followed by statements by the Israeli and Palestinian UN ambassadors.
After the open discussion, the delegates of the council’s 15 members will convene for a closed meeting to consider whether to release a statement. Israeli diplomats say the United States is working with the council’s members, particularly Jordan, to ensure that the panel does not condemn Israel. Jordan represents the Arab countries in the Security Council.
The Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry are working to prevent a condemnation as well; they hope to receive expressions of support instead. Over the past two days, Netanyahu has spoken with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron, asking for their backing at the Security Council.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has spoken to Rwanda’s foreign minister and foreign ministers of the other countries on the council. Lieberman has also sent a letter to the foreign ministers of all countries with which Israel has diplomatic ties.
Lieberman wrote that Israel’s attempts at restraint had been met by ever more missiles fired by Hamas. “Israel will do everything necessary to protect the lives of its citizens,” wrote Lieberman. “We expect the international community to continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.”
The foreign minister added that Hamas is “a racist terror organization that is calling for the murder of all the Jews and is launching missiles at Israel from within population centers and civilian institutions such as hospitals and schools, while Israel is doing everything possible to avoid harming the innocent.”
Lieberman added that Hamas should leave the Palestinian unity government immediately, while the group should be disarmed so that was no longer capable of carrying out terror.
Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, said that the the U.S. is trying to stem the surging violence in Israel and Gaza. It's a "dangerous moment" for the Mideast, Kerry said, adding that de-escalating the crisis was ultimately in everyone's interests. The goal, he said, is to see if there is some way to restore peace.