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Protection of civilians in Palestine: UN Security Council fails to adopt a resolution (due to US veto)

On June 1st, the UN Security Council voted a draft resolution presented by Kuwait concerning the protection of civilians in Palestine

On June 1st, the UN Security Council voted a draft resolution presented by Kuwait concerning the protection of civilians in Palestine.

An initial version of the draft proposed by Kuwait was circulated on May 17th, and two rounds of negotiations on May 21st and May 25th took place. A third draft of the text was circulated on May 29th among the UN Security Council Members. On May 31st, the US State Department issued a communiqué announcing that the US will veto this draft resolution explaining its reasons to do so (see text of the communiqué).

The draft tabled by Kuwait

The text finally tabled by Kuwait and voted (see full text reproduced at the end), includes 16 Operative Paragraphs, and stated in its operative part, that the Security Council:

1. Calls for full respect by all parties for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including in regards to the protection of the civilian population, and reiterates the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection, as well as to ensure accountability for all violations;

2. Deplores the use of any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and particularly in the Gaza Strip, including the use of live ammunition against civilian protesters, including children, as well as medical personnel and journalists, and expresses its grave concern at the loss of innocent lives;

3. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, refrain from such actions and fully abide by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 ;

4. Deplores any actions that could provoke violence and endanger civilian lives and calls on all actors to ensure that protests remain peaceful;

5. Deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas; 

Once tabled, the vote of this draft resolution that took place on June 1st, registered 10 votes in favour1 vote against (United States) and 4 abstentions (Ethiopia, Netherlands, Poland and United Kingdom).

Picture taken from this press article entitled “US vetoes Kuwait UN proposal to protect Palestinians” (The National, United Arab Emirates). 

Another draft, another vote

Another vote took place on a similar text, reviewed and drafted by US and omitting any reference to Israeli forces and Palestinian civilians and emphasizing on Hamas´s responsability (see press noteof Europe 1). The result of the vote was one single vote in favour (US)3 against (Bolivia, Kuwait and Russia) and 11 abstentions.

Concerning this second vote, we would kindly ask to our dear readers to help us to find somewhere a draft resolution voted in the past obtaining only one vote in favour at the UN Security Council. We are (maybe) facing a very first “première” in all UN history since 1945.

An inverse situation related to US isolated position took place last December 18th at UN Security Council: a draft resolution condemning the transfer of embassies to Jerusalem has been voted with 14 votes in favour and 1 single vote against (US vote) (see our note on this vote, available here and entitled: “Votación en el Consejo de Seguridad sobre reconocimiento de Jerusalén como capital: 14 votos y un veto“).

Coming vote at General Assembly

Vetoed by US, as predictable, this very same draft resolution presented by Kuwait will probably be submitted in coming days to the UN General Assembly this time. With regard to States receiving from now pressures from US and Israel to abstain, or to vote against this text, or to choose the “No Show” ´s option during the vote, the final result will give us an idea on how effective are these pressures.

After the 14-1 vote of the draft resolution condemning the transfer of embassies to Jerusalem that took place at Security Council on December 18th, on December 21st the vote obtained at the UN General Assembly of a similar resolution has been the following: 128 votes in favour, 9 votes against, 35 abstentions and 26 “No Show” (see UN press release)

Vote registered at the UNGA on December 21st on transfer of embassies to Jerusalem, taken from our article published in MonitordeOriente, December24th, 2017 and entitled: “Contundente rechazo de la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas al reconocimiento de Jerusalén como capital de Israel”

Text of the draft resolution presented by Kuwait and voted on June 1st at the Security Council

” The Security Council,

Recalling all of its relevant resolutions, including, inter alia, resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 605 (1987), 904 (1994), 1397 (2002), 1544 (2004), 1515 (2003), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009), and 2334 (2016),

Recalling also its Presidential Statement 2014/13 of 28 July 2014,

Bearing in mind the letter (S/2015/809) of 21 October 2015 by the Secretary-General,

Recalling also its resolutions on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, including its resolutions on children and armed conflict, including, inter alia, resolutions 1894 (2009) and 2225 (2015), as well as its relevant presidential statements, and its resolutions on the protection of medical and humanitarian personnel and on the protection of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in armed conflicts, including, inter alia, resolutions 2286 (2016) and 2222 (2015), as well as its other relevant resolutions and presidential statements,

Reaffirming the obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law in all circumstances in accordance with Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions,

Expressing its grave concern at the escalation of violence and tensions and the deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in particular since 30 March 2018, and its deep alarm at the loss of civilian lives and the high number of casualties among Palestinian civilians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, including casualties among children, caused by the Israeli forces,

Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,

Reaffirming the right to peaceful assembly and protest, freedom of expression and of association,

Emphasizing the need to pursue measures of accountability, stressing in this regard the importance of ensuring independent and transparent investigations in accordance with international standards,

Alarmed at the exacerbation of the dire humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and stressing the need to achieve a sustainable solution to this crisis in line with international law,

Stressing the particular impact that armed conflict has on women and children, including as refugees and displaced persons, as well as on other civilians who may have specific vulnerabilities, including persons with disabilities and older persons, and stressing the need for the Security Council and Member States to strengthen further the protection of civilians,

Recalling that a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means in accordance with international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions and through credible and direct negotiations,

Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

1. Calls for full respect by all parties for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including in regards to the protection of the civilian population, and reiterates the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection, as well as to ensure accountability for all violations;

2. Deplores the use of any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and particularly in the Gaza Strip, including the use of live ammunition against civilian protesters, including children, as well as medical personnel and journalists, and expresses its grave concern at the loss of innocent lives;

3. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, refrain from such actions and fully abide by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 ;

4. Deplores any actions that could provoke violence and endanger civilian lives and calls on all actors to ensure that protests remain peaceful;

5. Deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas;

6. Calls for urgent steps to ensure an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire;

7. Calls for the exercise of maximum restraint and calm by all parties and the need for immediate and significant steps to stabilize the situation and to reverse negative trends on the ground;

8. Reaffirms its willingness to respond to situations of armed conflict where civilians are being targeted or humanitarian assistance to civilians is being deliberately obstructed, including through the consideration of appropriate measures that the Security Council may take in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

9. Calls for the consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in the Gaza Strip;

10. Calls also for immediate steps towards ending the closure and the restrictions imposed by Israel on movement and access into and out of the Gaza Strip, including through the sustained opening of the crossing points of the Gaza Strip for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons in accordance with international law, including as it pertains to legitimate security requirements;

11. Demands that all parties cooperate with medical and humanitarian personnel to allow and facilitate unimpeded access to the civilian population, and calls for the cessation of all forms of violence and intimidation directed against medical and humanitarian personnel;

12. Urges the provision of immediate and unimpeded humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip, bearing in mind critical medical, food, water and fuel needs, and urges increased support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, recognizing the vital role of the Agency, alongside other UN agencies and humanitarian organizations, in providing humanitarian and emergency assistance, notably in the Gaza Strip;

13. Encourages tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation, including in support of the mediation efforts of Egypt, and concrete steps to reunite the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian government and ensure its effective functioning in the Gaza Strip;

14. Welcomes and urges further engagement by the Secretary-General and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process to assist, in cooperation with concerned partners, in the efforts to immediately de-escalate the situation and address urgent infrastructure, humanitarian, and economic development needs, including through the implementation of projects endorsed by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee;

15. Requests the Secretary-General to examine the present situation and to submit a written report, as soon as possible, but not later than 60 days from the adoption of the present resolution, containing, inter alia, his proposals on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation, including, inter alia, recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism;

16. Calls for renewed and urgent efforts to create the conditions necessary to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues to achieve, without delay, an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and a comprehensive, just and lasting comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders, on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap, as called for in resolution 2334 (2016) and its other relevant resolutions;

17. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

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