US USES VETO POWER TO BLOCK UNSC STATEMENT ON ISRAELI VIOLENCE IN GAZA




Hatim Khan – 02.04.2018- Last Saturday, the United States used its veto power to block a draft United Nations Security Council statement that called for end of atrocities by the Israeli military on unarmed Palestinian protesters who gathered for “Land Day” in Gaza on the 30th of March. The purpose of “Land Day” for the Palestinians was to protests Israel’s internationally accepted illegal occupation and seizure of Palestinian lands and destruction of Palestinian property.

The draft statement also called for an investigation in to the use of live rounds by the Israeli military that resulted in the death of nearly 20 unarmed protesters along with thousands injured.

After blocking the draft statement that was first circulated to the council on Friday’s emergency UNSC meeting, the US mission to the UN refused to give a statement to AFP (Agence France-Presse). Israel was also not present for the emergency meeting which was called due to the actions of its military.

Many Countries in the UNSC called for an investigation in to the incident of Israeli massacre on Friday. Kuwait’s delegation that had requested the emergency meeting of the UNSC said in regards to the Palestinians, “Let us be clear here, what happened today was a peaceful demonstration to express their desire for their legitimate rights… these were defenseless people”.

Walter Miller, an advisor to US UN mission said that the Israeli military response was due to, “bad actors that use protests as a cover to incite violence endanger innocent lives”. He also said that his government is working on a peace plan that would provide a brighter and better future for both Israelis and the Palestinians.

Many human right groups however, called the atrocities carried out by the Israeli military as unacceptable because they targeted unarmed civilians who were simply peacefully protesting. Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International for instance said, “The fact that live ammunition has been used against unarmed protesters is deeply troubling, and these deaths must be investigated as possible unlawful killings. Under international human rights law lethal force can only be used to defend lives from imminent risk”. Amnesty international had already urged the Israeli administration to not use violence against protesters after news of Israeli snipers and soldiers being placed along the borders broke.

The UN and European Union had both called for an independent and transparent investigation to take place in to the use of live ammunition against innocent civilians. “The EU mourns the loss of life. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims”, said Federica Mogherini, who is EU’s diplomatic chief. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres along with Mogherini had called the actions of the Israeli military “disproportionate”.

The Israeli ambassador to the UN has said “the international community must not be deceived” by what he called to be “a well-organized and violent terror-gathering” hiding behind the banner of peaceful display of protests. Despite the calls from the international community to carry out an investigation due to many video proofs circulating on the internet, showing unarmed protesters being shot with live rounds by the Israeli soldiers, the Defence Minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman said "There will be no commission of inquiry" and "There will be no such thing here. We shall not cooperate with any commission of inquiry”. He also praised the actions of the soldiers along with the Israeli Prime Minister, saying “I think that all of our troops deserve a commendation” for their actions.

With vast amount of proof weighing against the Israeli administration that have constantly violated numerous UN resolutions and have relied on violation of basic human rights of the Palestinians to carry out expanding their illegal settlements, they have once again been protected by US’s veto power in UNSC because of which justice for the Palestinians is still not in sight. The Israeli administration and the Israeli media have both continued to put forward unsubstantiated claims contrary to the vast amount of proof available. Israel and the US officials have gone as far as claiming that the UN is actually biased against the actions of the Israeli state. The international system designed to prevent such atrocities and protect the basic human rights and lives of innocent people is once again being questioned after the incident on Friday.