US blocks Security Council statement condemning violence after Al Aqsa Mosque raid

Closed meeting took place at the request of the UAE and China

A UN Security Council meeting. AFP
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The US on Thursday blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council press statement condemning recent Israeli police raids on Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, diplomats said.

A UN official told The National that there was initial widespread agreement among the 15 council members to issue press elements following Israel's police raid on Al Aqsa during Ramadan, which this year overlaps with the Jewish holiday of Passover and Western Christian Easter.

However, the US pulled back after 34 rockets were fired from Lebanon towards Israel, objecting to the "timing" of the public press statement.

Any UN Security Council statement must be agreed to by consensus.

When asked why the Biden administration blocked the formal statement, Robert Wood, the US deputy ambassador to the UN, told reporters that “there is a lot of very serious, quiet diplomacy going on in the region trying to calm the tensions”.

Washington condemned the launch of rockets from Lebanon and earlier strikes from Gaza, and said Israel had the right to defend itself.

It was the fourth emergency session held by the Security Council on Israeli-Palestinian tension since the establishment of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government.

The emergency session was requested by the UAE and China.

Council members were briefed by the UN’s Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland on the “alarming violence” and “other provocative” developments near Al Aqsa Mosque.

Mr Wennesland said in a tweet the launching of indiscriminate rockets from Lebanon towards Israel was “unacceptable” and that it “must stop”.

Meanwhile, the UAE’s ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh told reporters “escalation is not in anybody's interest”.

France’s UN ambassador Nicolas De Riviere called for the resumption of a “genuine and real” Middle East peace process.

“There hasn't been one since 2014 … We need the parties to sit at the table and to negotiate all the issues, and it should start soon,” he told reporters.

In a written statement, the UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon (Unifil) described the situation as “extremely serious”.

Unifil chief Aroldo Lazaro said he was in contact with authorities in both Lebanon and Israel.

Updated: April 07, 2023, 7:47 AM