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Putin in flurry of Gulf diplomacy

Fears of US veto loom large on eve of UN Security Council vote on Gaza ceasefire call

NEW YORK CITY: All eyes will be on the US during a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday, when the 15-member body is due to vote on a draft resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

However, Robert Wood, alternate permanent representative of the US to the UN, indicated that Washington continues to dismiss the need for any additional action by the council “at this time.”

The resolution was drafted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab Group of nations at the UN, and presented by the UAE, which currently occupies the Arab seat on the council.

The text, seen by Arab News, demands “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza and “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access.”

It expresses “grave concern over the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population, and (emphasizes) that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

The vote on the resolution follows a dramatic constitutional move by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday, when he invoked one of the few powers provided to him by the UN Charter by calling on the Security Council to demand a ceasefire, to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza that could have “potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole, and for peace and security in the region.”

In a letter to the council, he said more than eight weeks of fighting has “created appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Wood said that Washington’s position on the issue remains unchanged, despite the historic appeal by the secretary-general for an immediate ceasefire.

“We don’t think another Security Council product right now is going to be helpful to the situation,” said Wood.

His country is currently focused on “difficult and sensitive diplomacy geared to getting more hostages released, more aid flowing into Gaza, and better protection of civilians,” he added.

The US has been working to persuade Israeli authorities to recalibrate their approach so that the targeting of Hamas facilities and the group’s leadership is more precise, Wood said. This process will take time, he added as he expressed concern about the number of Palestinians killed and injured but said he remains confident that Israeli authorities are listening to the US calls.

Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, Abdulaziz Alwasil, said he remains hopeful that the US, one of five nations that holds the power of veto within the Security Council, will allow the resolution to be adopted on Friday.

Flanked by 57 representatives of the OIC and the Arab Group, he said an eight-member Arab ministerial delegation, empowered by the Riyadh Summit on Nov. 11 and led by Saudi foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan, arrived in Washington on Thursday morning for meetings with members of Congress and representatives of President Joe Biden’s administration, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during which they would “push for accepting the resolution presented by the Arab group.”

Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of the state of Palestine to the UN, also expressed “sincere hope” that the Security Council will adopt the resolution and “listen to the brave, courageous principled position of the secretary-general, (which) gives you an indication of how dangerous the situation is in the Gaza Strip.”

Asked about the possibility that the Arab ministerial delegation in Washington would fail to change the view of the Biden administration about a ceasefire call, Mansour highlighted the international isolation of the US on the issue.

He said: “We are calling for a ceasefire. The secretary-general is calling for a ceasefire. All UN agencies are calling for a ceasefire. (Josep) Borrell (the EU’s foreign policy chief) is calling for a ceasefire. The EU is doing the same, (French President Emmanuel) Macron (too), not to mention Russia and China and many others.

“(Also) people in the streets, including the Jewish American community, particularly the young generation, who took over Grand Central Station (in New York), and the (other) millions in the streets.

“All of them are saying, ‘We want a ceasefire.’ (So) those who are opposing a ceasefire are among the very small minority. The lives of children are precious, so any effort to save their lives is in line with humanity and any effort not to save their lives is in contradiction to humanity.”

Source: Arab News

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