A defiant US accused the UN Security Council of a “double standard” towards Israel, while other states united to condemn violence against Palestinians during the unrest that followed the American decision to relocate its embassy.
“The United States deplores the loss of life, but there is a lot of violence in region. And the double standard is all too common in this chamber, and is working overtime today,” said Washington’s envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, before launching a lengthy diatribe criticizing the UN Security Council for failing to call similar meetings to discuss the “destabilizing influence” of Iran.
‘We are all concerned by violence in the Middle East. But there is a lot of violence throughout the region, and I will note that the double standard is all too common in this chamber and working overtime today’ – Haley at UNSC meeting on Palestine
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) May 15, 2018
Haley then said that December’s decision to relocate the US mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “does not undermine the prospect of peace in any way” and that those who said it was in itself connected to violence were “sorely mistaken.” The representative blamed the deaths of a reported 60 Palestinians on Monday exclusively on Hamas “incitement” to attack the Gaza-Israel border, and said the group was “pleased” by the scale of confrontations, in which over 2,700 people were wounded, according to the Palestinian authorities.
“No country in this chamber would act with more restrain than Israel has,” summed up the former South Carolina governor. Having listened to a series of speeches by other envoys, Haley then walked out of the hall as soon as the Palestinian envoy began his address.
‘Shocking and appalling’
Haley’s bullish rhetoric contrasted with the downcast tone of the rest of the speakers, Washington’s close allies among them.
UK’s ambassador to the UN, Karen Pierce, called the violence, which produced the worst single-day death toll since the Israeli-Hamas war in 2014, “shocking and appalling” and wondered if extensive use of live fire by the IDF was “justified.”
“We implore Israel to act with restraint, within international law, and more than anything ensure that its security forces do not resort to use of excessive force,” said Pierce, while acknowledging “Israel’s right to defend its own borders.”
Similar calls were delivered by other Western states, including France, Sweden and the Netherlands.
In his statement, Russia’s deputy representative Dmitry Polyansky took a broader view, indicating the four-year stalling of the peace process has left a vacuum that has been exploited by rival politicians with own partisan interests, producing a “cycle of violence.”
Polyansky reiterated that Russia, which enjoys a productive working relationship with both Palestinian and Israeli leadership, is ready to become the mediator and host of any future peace summit.
The fieriest speech came from a non-permanent member, Bolivia, whose envoy, Sascha Llorenti, began by reading out the names of the Palestinian dead, before launching a scathing critique of “illegal Israeli occupation” that is aided by unconditional support from Washington, whose decision to become the first country to move its embassy to Jerusalem is another vote of confidence for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The United States has become an obstacle to peace, part of the problem, not part of the solution,” said Llorenti.