US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has defended Israel’s use of force against Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza
Haley told the security council that ‘no country would act with more restraint than Israel has’ and walked out of the session as Palestine’s envoy began to speak.
Her comments on Tuesday were made as the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces rose to 60 and those wounded to 2,700
The shooting of mainly unarmed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border has received widespread international condemnation, criticism within the US however, has been muted.
The Independent reports: Nikki Haley repeated a claim made the day before by the White House, and said Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, was responsible for the deaths and injuries.
Addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday, she said: “Let’s remember that the Hamas terrorist organisation has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy.”
She added: “This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday.”
While reports from Gaza suggested the majority of protesters were unarmed, Ms Haley called attention to the tactics employed by some, which included the use of Molotov cocktails attached to kites. She also accused Hamas of making use of loudspeakers to urge protesters.
She added: “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”
The Palestinian ambassador, Riyad Mansour, addressed the council. “How many Palestinians have to die before you take action? When are you going to act,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
Israeli ambassador Danny Danon later responded: “You must tell Hamas that violence is not the answer.”
United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said Monday’s killing of more than 60 people showed the need for a political solution to the conflict. Speaking at the headquarters of the European Union, he said the way out of the standoff was “a two-state solution allowing Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace and security together”.
The pro-Israel lobby is a powerful influence in the US and groups such as Christians United for Israel and American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spend millions of dollars to further their causes. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has spoken several times at AIPAC’s annual conference, most recently in March.
“You remember people talked about Israel’s isolation? You remember that,” he said. “Israel’s isolation? Pretty soon, the countries that don’t have relations with us, they’re going to be isolated. There are those who talk about boycotting Israel? We’ll boycott them.”
The demonstrators in Gaza have been protesting since the US announced unilaterally last December that it was recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv. For decades, the international community had insisted that the final status of Jerusalem had to be part of a broader settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Donald Trump, who pleased his evangelical supporters by recognising Israel as the nation’s capital and who had vowed to do so during the 2016 election campaign, said the move was merely responding to a reality on the ground.
While the White House refused to even urge Israel to show restraint, some US politicians did criticise its actions
“This is a staggering toll. Hamas violence does not justify Israel firing on unarmed protesters,” senator Bernie Sanders said in a statement. “The United States must play an aggressive role in bringing Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and the international community together to address Gaza’s humanitarian crisis and stop this escalating violence.”
Over 50 killed in Gaza today and 2,000 wounded, on top of the 41 killed and more than 9,000 wounded over the past weeks. This is a staggering toll. Hamas violence does not justify Israel firing on unarmed protesters.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 14, 2018