U.S. says no to French push for U.N. Mideast action

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A view shows the Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev in the foreground as the Palestinian town of Al-Ram is seen in the background in the Israeli-occupied West Bank

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The U.S. mission to the United Nations said it "will not support actions that we believe undermine efforts to de-escalate" violence between Israel and Palestinian militants when asked on Wednesday about a French push for a Security Council resolution.

France circulated a draft text to council members on Wednesday, diplomats said.

The French draft text, seen by Reuters, demands an immediate cessation of hostilities and condemns "the indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian areas" without laying blame. It urges protection of civilians and revival of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians with the aim of creating two states.

The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with east Jerusalem as its capital, all territory captured by Israel in 1967.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he hoped the 15-member body could vote as soon as possible. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, France, the United States or Britain to pass.

The United States has traditionally shielded its ally Israel at the United Nations. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told her U.N. counterparts on Tuesday that a "public pronouncement right now" by the council would not help calm the crisis.

When asked about the French push for a resolution, a spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the United Nations on Wednesday reaffirmed its position had not changed.

"We've been clear and consistent that we are focused on intensive diplomatic efforts underway to bring an end to the violence and that we will not support actions that we believe undermine efforts to de-escalate," the spokesperson said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue fighting against Gaza militants after U.S. President Joe Biden urged him on Wednesday to seek a "de-escalation" of 10 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants and other groups in Gaza.

France made its move at the United Nations after Washington repeatedly opposed a Security Council statement, which has to be agreed by consensus. French diplomats believe a resolution could raise pressure on the parties to end hostilities and would complement other diplomatic initiatives.

"We think a unified and strong voice from the Security Council actually carries weight, not only in this situation, but in other situations of conflict," a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Additional reporting by John Irish; Editing by Grant McCool and Lincoln Feast.)