July 17, 2014 – Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza will likely lead to a Security Council resolution calling for withdrawal and a ceasefire despite US wishes that a regional solution be found to the crisis.
Washington would rather see an Egyptian-mediated fix but the current military government in Cairo no longer has clout over militant groups in Gaza.
The Council issued a carefully worded non-binding statement on Saturday calling for de-escalation and a resumption of the Egyptian-brokered 2012 ceasefire agreement. The statement, whose wording was fought over by Jordan and the US, made no reference to either Israel or Hamas but specified the protection of civilians.
In the five days since the Council’s statement, the number of civilians killed has risen steadily with some 50 children now among the innocent victims.
US envoy Samantha Power, who in April solemnly vowed to defend Israeli interests at the United Nations, had been silent on Gaza up until Thursday but shortly after State Dept. spokesperson Jen Psaki said the US is “heartbroken” by the high civilian death toll in Gaza and called on Israel to do more to protect civilians, she tweeted that the civilian toll is “heartbreaking” and the US is “using all diplomatic resources to support a ceasefire.”
Less than an hour later, Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza for the first time since Operation Cast Lead in December 2008. That three-week offensive killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, including 412 children and 110 women, according to UN figures.
In response, the UNSC passed Resolution 1860 on Jan. 8, 2009 with 14 Council members supporting, none against, and the US abstaining. Fighting ended ten days after its adoption.
That lead to almost four years of relative calm until fighting erupted in late-2012, which was ended by the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire.
The Obama administration is keen to avoid a showdown at the UN where the US has used its veto 43 times, the majority of times in support of Israel – most recently in 2011 when it cast the sole no vote on a Security Council resolution condemning settlements that was co-sponsored by some 80 UN member states.
But as the body charged with the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, and with a large UN presence on the ground in Gaza, expect the Council to take action in the coming days.
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