U.S. Blocks Security Council Statement Calling for Investigation Into Gaza Violence

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Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Monday, May 14, 2018.
Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Monday, May 14, 2018. Credit: Khalil Hamra/AP

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday blocked a UN Security Council statement that was intended to call for an investigation of the events on the Israel-Gaza border.

The statement, circulated by Kuwait, was supposed to include an expression of rage and sorrow on behalf of the Security Council over the deaths of more than 50 Palestinians, who were shot dead by the IDF during protests near the border fence. However, the U.S. blocked it from being adopted and published.

The Kuwaiti statement also included a call for the creation of an "independent and transparent investigation" into Israel's actions on the border. It wasn't the first time that the U.S. has blocked an action at the Security Council related to Israel's actions in Gaza, but was notable in light of the high death toll yesterday in Gaza –  the highest since the end of the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas

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The White House said on Monday that the responsibility for the deaths of dozens of Palestinians on the Gaza-Israel border "rests squarely with Hamas," and added that the demonstrations on the border are "cynical." White House spokesman Raj Shah added that the Trump administration fully supports Israel's "right to defend itself."

Earlier Monday, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the Israeli Embassy's event marking Israel's 70th anniversary.

Pence described Monday, on which the American embassy in Israel officially moved to Jerusalem, as "nothing less than a great day for Israel." He added that Israel "isn't just 70 years old – it's 70 years strong." He specifically praised Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, for his speech at the ceremony for the embassy's opening.

The only other speaker at the event besides Pence was Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, who said that President Donald Trump's decision last week to quit the Iran nuclear deal put an end to a policy of "appeasing" the regime in Tehran. He also said that the Trump administration will make the U.S.-Israel relationship "greater than ever." Pence and Dermer did not address the situation in Gaza in their remarks. 

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