The US blocked a public virtual meeting of the UN Security Council to address the escalating conflict in the Gaza Strip and Israel, diplomats familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The open meeting was requested by China, Tunisia and Norway to be held Friday, but the US said “an open meeting tomorrow will not support these de-escalatory efforts,” diplomats told Anadolu Agency.
Instead, the US proposed an open debate on Tuesday, according to the diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The US blocked a Security Council statement on Wednesday regarding the spiraling violence as Israel continues to pound densely-populated Gaza with airstrikes amid continued rocket attacks from Palestinian groups.
The nixed statement followed a second council briefing from UN Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Tor Wennesland.
It “expressed deep concern about the latest situation in Gaza, and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities,” and further “expressed concern about the tensions and violence in East Jerusalem, especially in and around the holy sites.”
“Council members demanded immediate cessation of all acts of violence, provocation, incitement and destruction. They called for respect for international law, including international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians,” it said.
The death toll from Israel’s continuing offensive on Gaza has left 103 dead, including 27 children and 11 women, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. An additional 580 people have been injured.
Seven Israelis have been killed in recent violence — six in rocket attacks in addition to a soldier who was killed when an anti-tank guided missile struck his jeep.
Tensions have been running high in the Sheikh Jarrah area in occupied East Jerusalem over the past month as Israeli settlers have repeatedly clashed with residents following a court order for the eviction of Palestinian families in the area. The Israeli Supreme Court later delayed a hearing on an appeal.
Palestinians protesting in solidarity with residents of Sheikh Jarrah have also been targeted by Israeli forces and settler groups.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980 — a move that has never been recognized by the international community.
*Betul Yuruk contributed to this report from the United Nations. ( Anadolu Agency )