by Shlomo Cesana, Eldad Beck, Yoni Hersch, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
PA says U.S. "bias" in favor of Israel has rendered Security Council a "helpless hostage," demands U.S. be stripped of its veto power if the council is to retain credibility
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley
The United States on Friday blocked a U.N. Security Council statement supporting the Palestinians "right to demonstrate peacefully" on the Israel-Gaza Strip border" and endorsing Secretary General António Guterres' call for an independent investigation into the deadly border riots.
This was the second time in two weeks the U.S. has vetoed a Security Council decision on the matter.
Some 20,000 Palestinians participated in a second Hamas-backed demonstration on the border Friday. The military said the protest became violent almost immediately, with hundreds of Palestinians torching tires and throwing stones and firebombs at the Israeli troops, and some trying to use the thick smoke to breach the security fence.
The IDF used water cannons and huge fans to disperse the smoke, as well as crowd control measures, including tear gas, rubber bullets and in some cases, live fire, to prevent protesters from breaching the fence.
The Palestinians said nine Gazans were killed, including one minor and one journalist, and over 1,000 were wounded, 300 of them from live fire, in the clashes.
On Friday afternoon, Kuwait, which represents Arab countries on the Security Council, circulated a draft resolution among the council's members, seeking to "reaffirm the Palestinians' right to peaceful protest" and calling for an independent and transparent investigation of the clashes on the Israel-Gaza Strip border.
The draft, which was similar to the one Kuwait circulated two weeks ago, also urged both sides to exercise restraint.
On Twitter, Kuwait's U.N. mission said the Security Council "should address this matter and have a unified position. … What is happening is a violation of international law."
The motion was endorsed by 14 of the council's 15 members but was vetoed by the United States.
Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour slammed the U.S. veto of what he called a "nonbinding and modest" resolution, saying the U.S.'s actions were "very irresponsible" and gave Israel "the green light to continue with their onslaught against the civilian population" in Gaza.
Mansour said the Palestinian Authority would "keep all its options open" at the United Nations, including seeking a Security Council presidential statement or resolution, going to the General Assembly or the Geneva-based Human Rights Council – where no country has veto power – and urging Guterres to form an independent commission of inquiry.
"We will not give up. We will continue knocking on doors," Mansour vowed.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon said the Security Council "should condemn Hamas, which uses children as human shields while risking their lives, and must call for the end of these provocations which only increase the violence and tensions."
Arab League Ambassador to the U.N. Maged Abdelaziz said Arab foreign ministers would also discuss options to pursue the Palestinian issue at a meeting in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh on April 12, ahead of a summit of Arab leaders in the country on April 15.
Vexed by its defeat at the Security Council, the Palestinian Authority on Saturday urged the U.N. to "devise a new formula" for the council's work that would strip the U.S. of its veto power.
Ramallah's Foreign Ministry urged U.N. members and the international community to "search for a new formula that would invalidate U.S. vetoes and objections if they are found to be in violation of the goals, principles, and conventions on which the international system was established."
The ministry's statement said that unless such a formula was devised, the Security Council would remain a "helpless hostage in light of blind American bias in favor of the occupation and will lose what's left of its credibility."
U.S. "bias" in favor of Israel constitutes "an extension of hostile American positions against our people and rights, a continuation of its attempts to thwart any joint Palestinian-Arab moves at the Security Council, and a translation of its political positions and projects aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause," the statement said.
Also on Saturday, the European Union said the number of casualties in Israel-Gaza border riots "raises serious questions about proportionate use of force" by Israel, saying such concerns "must be addressed" and that "reports by the Israeli Defense Forces about throwing of stones and firebombs against their positions and attempts to cross the fence into Israel must also be clarified."
The statement, which did not condemn Palestinian violence, called on both sides to exercise "utmost restraint" and stressed that "the priority now must be to avoid any further escalation and loss of life."
The United Nations Human Rights Council also urged Israel to ensure that its security forces do not use excessive force against Palestinian protesters at the Gaza-Israel border.
Firearms should only be used as a last resort, and unjustified recourse to their use may amount to willful killing of civilians, a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, UNHRC spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell said.
Shlomo Cesana, Eldad Beck, Yoni Hersch, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
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