UN postpones vote on protecting Palestinians: diplomats

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The UN Security Council has postponed a vote on a draft resolution calling for the protection of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank after the United States sought changes, diplomats said Thursday.

“We received very late amendments from a member-state, but we have to consider them,” said Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi, who presented the draft resolution. He specified that the amendments were from the United States.

Ambassador Al-Otaibi had earlier told reporters that the vote was scheduled for 6:00 pm (2200 GMT). Kuwait represents Arab countries at the council.

But diplomats had said that the measure was expected to be vetoed by the United States.

Kuwait presented the draft two weeks ago, initially calling for an international protection mission for the Palestinians as protests turned violent on the Israeli-Gaza border.

The final version however urges “the consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection" of Palestinian civilians and requests that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres present a report on a possible "international protection mechanism.”

At a Security Council meeting on Wednesday, US Ambassador Nikki Haley signaled that Washington would oppose the proposals for Palestinian protection.

“The people of Gaza do not need protection from an external source. The people of Gaza need protection from Hamas,” she said.

The vote comes after an exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip this week that was the worst flare-up since the 2014 war.

At least 122 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the unrest since the end of March. No Israelis have been killed.

Haley has been a strong supporter of Israel at the United Nations, arguing that Israel was resorting to legitimate defense against Hamas militants.

Diplomats have said the Palestinians may turn to the UN General Assembly if the draft resolution on protection is vetoed by the United States.

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