UN Security Council Holds Closed-Door Meetings Regarding Palestine

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The majority of countries, despite their differences, are on the same page regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict. (Image Credit: Wall Street Journal)

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) convened in an emergency session regarding the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza. However, the closed-door meeting failed to secure the unanimity required for a joint statement. 

The meeting involved statements from various ambassadors, including those from Israel, Palestine, the United States, China, and the United Arab Emirates. The Israeli ambassador, Gilad Erdan, accused Hamas of Nazi-like actions and emphasized the need for self-defense. The Palestinian representative, Riyad Mansour, described Gaza as “Hell on Earth,” emphasizing the humanitarian crisis. Russia called for diplomatic solutions, while the U.S. stressed the importance of protecting civilians. China urged a ceasefire and criticized Israel’s actions. The UAE supported a humanitarian truce and expressed concern about the Council’s silence. Various UN officials, including UNRWA and UNICEF representatives, highlighted the devastating impact on civilians, especially children. 

The death toll has surpassed 1,100 since Hamas, the Palestinian group controlling the blockaded Gaza Strip, initiated an assault on Israeli towns. In response, Israel declared a state of war, launching attacks on densely-populated Gaza, resulting in thousands of casualties.

The United States urged the council to strongly condemn Hamas, but achieving consensus proved challenging. Senior US diplomat Robert Wood noted that while many countries condemned the Hamas attacks, not all did. He alluded to Russia, with strained relations since its invasion of Ukraine.

The UNSC session lasted about 90 minutes, featuring a briefing from UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland. Diplomats, led by Russia, aimed for a broader focus beyond condemning Hamas, citing unresolved issues.

The United Arab Emirates, having normalized relations with Israel in a 2020 deal, anticipated more UNSC meetings on the crisis. UAE Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh expressed grave concern, emphasizing the need for a political horizon leading to a two-state solution.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority did not attend the meeting due to their current positions on the Security Council. Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour called for ending the Israeli occupation, emphasizing the need for a path to peace.

Three Palestinian human rights organizations accused the UN of complicity through inaction, stating that its members enabled the violence. In an open letter, they urged UN member states to address root causes and protect Palestinians from Israeli attacks.

Ahead of the meeting, Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan presented graphic evidence of Israeli civilians taken captive by Hamas, labeling them as war crimes. Erdan sought steadfast support for Israel’s defense in the face of the ongoing conflict.

The Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas since 2007, witnessed its assault on Israel amid US-backed efforts to encourage Saudi Arabia to normalize ties with Israel. Israel expressed openness to such normalization in exchange for a defense deal between Washington and Riyadh.

The session follows the General Assembly’s recent resolution for a humanitarian truce, which faced objections and vetoes. The meeting aims to address the escalating crisis and seek diplomatic solutions.

Written by Paula Onuoha

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