Russia Accuses US Of Thwarting UN Action On Gaza

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Israeli soldier
Israeli soldier adjusts barrel of a tank near border with Gaza Nov. 20, 2012

Russia accused the U.S. Monday of blocking U.N. Security Council attempts to condemn the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militants in Gaza Strip adding that other council members were trying to “filibuster” the issue.

Russia's U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters outside the Security Council that one of its members had indicated “quite transparently that they will not be prepared to go along with any reaction of the Council” as that would “somehow, allegedly hurt the current efforts carried out by Egypt in the region,” the Associated Press reported.

He added that anyone who could guess the foot-dragging member was the U.S. would be “a connoisseur" of Security Council politics.

The council held heated closed-door negotiations on a proposed press statement, but several Western diplomats, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said a sticking point in early versions of the draft circulated by Morocco was that it had omitted reference to Hamas missile attacks on Israel.

Israel has declared that its goal is to exhaust militant arsenals and thwart cross-border rocket fire by Hamas that has plagued Israeli border towns for years.

France, Germany and Britain submitted amendments to the draft statement, but Churkin said too many changes had been proposed.

"To me, it looks like a filibuster attempt," he said.

“Maybe I am mistaken, maybe it's just a laid-back attitude in a situation where we cannot afford procrastination," he said after consultations with the council members.

One council diplomat who spoke to Reuters described Churkin's filibustering accusation as "utter nonsense.”

Churkin said if the council could not agree, Russia would initiate a resolution — a stronger move by the council than a statement — on which the members would proceed to vote on, possibly as early as Tuesday afternoon.  

Moscow’s draft resolution calls for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, support for international and regional efforts, mediation efforts and renewed peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. It does not have any explicit mention of the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, an issue the Western diplomats say is essential to any U.N. statement.

However, a resolution can be passed only if it receives nine out of 15 votes in favor and no vetoes by the five permanent council members.  Some U.N. diplomats who spoke to Reuters said a vote on the Russian resolution would likely be tight and has high chances of being vetoed by the U.S.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said that it was “vitally important” that the council, “by its action, or non-action” tries “reinforcing the prospects for an agreed cessation” of hostilities, referring to Cairo’s efforts to broker peace between the belligerents.

She added that Washington would support a council statement if it "advances the goal of supporting an agreed cessation (of violence)."

“That's got to be agreed between the parties to be meaningful or sustainable," Rice said. "That is our principle objective in these discussions.”

Moroccan Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki said it was unacceptable that the council remained “on the margins,” the Associated Press reported.

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