The United Nations Security Council, in its fourth meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has again failed to find consensus on a joint statement calling for a ceasefire, with the United States reportedly telling the panel that such a statement would not help to calm the situation.
The Biden administration has been criticised for its unwavering support for Israel, which has carried out intense air strikes in Gaza killing at least 219 Palestinians, including 63 children. In Israel, at least 12 people, including two children, have been killed in rockets fired from Gaza.
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The meeting on Tuesday came after the US thrice blocked a joint statement on the violence, with US envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield appearing to douse the prospect that consensus would soon be reached.
“With regard to further Security Council action, we must assess if any given action or statement will advance prospects for ending the violence,” she reportedly said in the private meeting. “We do not judge that a public pronouncement right now will help de-escalate.”
Thomas-Greenfield added that the US is attempting to calm the situation through its own diplomatic channels, including a US envoy deployed to Israel.
As one of five permanent members of the council, the US has the ability to block joint statements and resolutions.
Despite the US resistance, France on Tuesday said the UN Security Council was the proper forum to push for a ceasefire.
“The UN Security Council must take up the subject and we have also called for a vote on a resolution on the subject,” the French presidency said after talks between Emmanuel Macron, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah.
France said it had proposed a resolution calling for a ceasefire in coordination with Israel’s neighbours Egypt and Jordan.
Zhang Jun, Beijing’s ambassador to the UN, told reporters his team had heard the French ceasefire proposal and China was “supportive”.
Another diplomat told the AFP news agency the proposal would seek to end hostilities, but also “allow humanitarian access”.
‘We have not been silent’
On Monday, US President Joe Biden, following days of pressure, voiced support for a ceasefire in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while continuing to defend Israel’s right to “self-defence”.
Progressives, and more recently moderate allies in Biden’s Democratic party, had come out in support of a ceasefire before the president’s announcement.
The Biden administration has come under increasing pressure to take a harder line against Israel during the continuing bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, which has destroyed infrastructure and hundreds of Palestinian homes and what critics say amounts to collective punishment.
On Tuesday, as the European Union, minus Hungary, also called for a ceasefire.
“We have not been silent and neither have you,” Thomas-Greenfield told the Security Council on Tuesday.
Still, with Egyptian and UN mediators stepping up efforts to calm the tensions, there has been little indication that headway has been made.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated in a post on Twitter on Tuesday that Israel’s attacks “will continue for as long as it takes to restore calm” for all of its citizens.