UN council mulls calling for Palestinian protection force

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The United Nations Security Council will begin talks on Monday on a Kuwait-drafted resolution that condemns Israeli force against Palestinian civilians and calls for an “international protection mission” to be deployed to the occupied territories.

The draft resolution, seen by Reuters on Friday, asks UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report within 30 days of its adoption on “ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population.”

The United States, an Israeli ally, is likely to veto the move if it is put to a vote by Kuwait, the diplomats said. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to be adopted.

The US mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was unclear when the resolution could be put to a vote.

The push for a resolution comes after the bloodiest day for Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza war. Dozens of Palestinians were killed on Monday in gunfire and tear gas from Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, the Palestinian Health Ministry said as the United States opened its new embassy in contested Jerusalem.

Israel has said it is acting in self-defense to protect its borders and communities. Both Israel and the United States said Hamas, which rules Gaza, instigated the violence, an allegation denied by the militant group opposed to Israel’s existence.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon dismissed the draft Security Council resolution as a “shameful” proposal “to support Hamas’ war crimes against Israel and the residents of Gaza who are being sent to die for the sake of preserving Hamas’ rule.”

During a Security Council meeting on Tuesday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blamed Hamas for “inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy.”

On Monday, the United States blocked a Kuwait-drafted council statement that would have expressed “outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians” and called for an independent and transparent investigation, diplomats said.

Meanwhile, Israel condemned the “hypocrisy and absurdity” of the UN Human Rights Council after it voted Friday to send war crimes investigators to probe the shootings of Gaza protesters by Israeli forces.

“Israel totally rejects the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council, that once again has proven itself to be a body made up of a built-in anti-Israeli majority, guided by hypocrisy and absurdity,” the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement.

In Geneva, 29 of the council’s 47 members voted for a resolution calling on the body to “urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry” -- its highest-level of investigation.

Only two members, the United States and Australia, voted against the resolution, while 29 voted in favor and 14 abstained, including Britain, Switzerland and Germany.

The resolution came after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border on Monday as the US relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

In its statement, the Israeli foreign ministry said the results of the inquiry were a “foregone conclusion inherent in the wording of the resolution”.

“It is clear to all that the purpose of the commission is not to arrive at the truth, but rather to impair Israel’s right to self-defense, and to demonize the Jewish state,” it added.

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