UN Security Council to meet on Sunday about Israel, Gaza
The UN Security Council will publicly discuss the worsening violence between Israel and Palestinian militants on Sunday, diplomats said, reaching a compromise over US objections to a meeting on Friday.
Diplomats said the US, a close ally of Israel, had initially suggested a virtual public meeting could be held on Tuesday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday he hoped waiting a few days would allow for “diplomacy to have some effect and to see if indeed we get a real de-escalation,” adding that Washington was “open to and supportive of a discussion, an open discussion, at the United Nations.”
Hostilities entered their fifth day on Friday, with no sign of abating. Israel fired artillery and mounted more air strikes against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip amid constant rocket fire deep into Israel's commercial centre.
The 15-member council has met privately twice this week about the worst hostilities in the region in years, but has so far been unable to agree on a public statement, diplomats said.
Such statements are agreed to by consensus, and the US did not believe it would be helpful, they said.
For more than a month conflict between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have taken place daily in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, home to major religious sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. The conflicts started in the holy month of Ramadan and the triggers varied from contestation over land, to alleged Israeli expansion into occupied territory and tension over prayer sites. While the recent clashes have been going on for a month, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has gone on for decades.
All council members also have to agree to a meeting under rules guiding the body's virtual operations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Israel unleashed its offensive on militants in Gaza after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Worried that hostilities could spiral out of control, the US is sending an envoy to the region.
“The US will continue to actively engage in diplomacy at the highest levels to try to de-escalate tensions,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield posted on Twitter after the Sunday meeting was agreed.
Truce efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations have so far offered no sign of progress.