May 15, 2018 / 5:08 PM / 5 days ago

Kuwait pushes U.N. action as U.S. says Israel acted with restraint in Gaza

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Kuwait said it would propose a draft U.N. Security Council resolution on “protection of Palestinian civilians” following violence in Gaza and the United States on Tuesday praised what it called Israel’s restraint against militant group Hamas.

The council met after the bloodiest day for Palestinians since a 2014 Gaza war. As many as 60 Palestinians were killed on Monday in gunfire and tear gas from Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, the Palestinian Health Ministry said as the United States opened its new embassy in contested Jerusalem.

“The Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council. “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”

Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour told the Security Council that the Israeli “occupation is the main source of violence in our region.” He pleaded with the council to “act immediately to stop the massacre committed against our people.”

Israel has said it is acting in self-defense to protect its borders and communities and blames Hamas.

Kuwait’s U.N. Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi told reporters before the meeting that he would likely circulate the draft resolution to the 15-member council on Wednesday. It was unclear when it could be put to a vote.

He said that as an occupying power Israel was required under the Geneva Convention to provide protection for Palestinian civilians “but they failed to do that so this is why we want the council to do something about that.”

The United States is likely to veto any Security Council action, diplomats said.

The United States blocked on Monday a Kuwait-drafted council statement that would have expressed “outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians” and called for an independent and transparent investigation, diplomats said.

Al-Otaibi said the draft resolution would aim “to provide international protection for civilians,” though he added “we’re not talking about peacekeeping yet.”

Both Israel and the United States said Hamas, which rules Gaza, instigated the violence, an allegation denied by the militant group opposed to Israel’s existence.

U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Security Council on Tuesday on the latest Gaza violence. He said there is “no justification for the killing” and that “Israel has a responsibility to calibrate it’s use of force.”

Mladenov also said Hamas “must not use the protests as cover to attempt to place bombs at the fence and create provocations” by hiding its operatives among the protesters.

In October 2015, then U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon released a summary of past international protection regimes for disputed territories as requested by the Palestinians, who had been calling at the time for an international protection force to be deployed at Jerusalem’s holy sites.

Most countries say the status of Jerusalem - a sacred city to Jews, Muslims and Christians - should be determined in a final peace settlement and that moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool

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