U.S. Blocks U.N. Statement Calling for Probe into Gaza Violence

Palestinian protestors run from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, May 14, 2018. (Ibraheem Abu/Reuters)

The Trump administration blocked the release of a United Nations Security Council statement Tuesday calling for an investigation into the killing of at least 60 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces Monday.

The statement, circulated by Kuwait, expressed “rage and sorrow” for those who died in the Hamas-backed protests — sparked by the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — and called for an “independent and transparent investigation” into Israel’s defense of its border during the demonstrations.

“The Security Council expresses its outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest,” a draft of the statement, obtained by Agence France-Presse, read. “The Security Council calls for an independent and transparent investigation into these actions to ensure accountability.”

The draft’s characterization of the protests as “peaceful” was in sharp contrast to that offered by Trump administration officials, who have exclusively condemned Hamas and their collaborators in the Palestinian government for the violence.

The White House said Monday that blame for the violence “rests squarely with Hamas” and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley reiterated that message during the Security Council session Tuesday.

“Let’s remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy,” Haley said. “This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday.”

The ambassador went on to praise Israel for showing “restraint” in the face of the massive protests, which reportedly drew more than 40,000 Palestinians.

“No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has,” she said. “In fact, the records of several countries here today suggest they would be much less restrained.”

She subsequently walked out of the session when the Palestinian envoy began speaking.

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