Kuwait seeks UN backing for Palestinian protection in Gaza

Kuwait seeks UN backing for Palestinian protection in Gaza
Kuwait has circulated a UN draft resolution on establishing an international protection mission for Palestinians in Gaza, following repeated Israeli aggression.
3 min read
Kuwait's UN envoy Mansour al-Otaibi (C) stands next to Palestinian Permanent Observer Riyad Mansour (R)

Kuwait on Tuesday circulated a watered-down UN Security Council draft resolution on setting up an international protection mission for Palestinians in the besieged territoru of Gaza.

The toned-down resolution is thought to be an effort to win European support in a vote expected later this week, diplomats said.

The council could hold a vote, possibly on Thursday, on the draft resolution that is expected to face a US veto, the diplomats said.

Still, Kuwait, a non-permanent Security Council member that represents Arab countries, is hoping to win a high number of votes in favour of its proposal to highlight Washington's isolation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

The revised draft drops an outright demand for an international protection mission and instead requests that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres present recommendations.

The new text "calls for the consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population" in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Gaza Strip, according to the draft obtained by AFP.

It requests that Guterres present a report within 60 days on proposals for the protection of Palestinian civilians including the establishment of an international mission.

France and the UK - two veto-wielding council members - have complained that the draft resolution lacked detail on the scope and objective of the proposed protection mission, diplomats said.

The US, meanwhile, maintained that the measure was biased against Israel during two expert-level meetings held last week, according to diplomatic sources.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon has slammed the proposed resolution as "shameful" and said it was designed to help Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas.

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Kuwait put forward the draft resolution ten days ago after Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinians during protests near the Gaza border, on the same day the US opened its controversial new embassy in Jerusalem.

Negotiations, however, have been tough-going with the Europeans and Africans pressing for more information on the proposed protection mission, according to diplomats. 

Diplomats have said the Palestinians may turn to the UN General Assembly if the draft resolution on protection fails to win Security Council backing.

The council is due to meet on Wednesday at the request of the US to discuss Palestinian rocket firings on Israel from Gaza.

The rocket and mortar firings from the Gaza Strip were claimed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, prompting Israel to respond with dozens of air strikes on bases of the militant Palestinian groups.

The Israeli military struck dozens of militant sites in Gaza overnight as rocket fire continued toward southern Israeli communities into early Wednesday morning, setting off air raid sirens in the area throughout the night.

Israel's military said it hit drone storage facilities, military compounds, and rocket and munition workshops across the enclave. The overnight Hamas rocket fire reached the city of Netivot for the first time since the 2014 war. A home was struck, but no one was wounded.

It was the worst flareup since the war waged four years ago by Israel in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Washington has circulated a draft council statement that would condemn the firing of rockets by Palestinian militants in Gaza, but it remains unclear whether it will be approved.