On May 19th, the US, once again, said it opposes a proposed UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
France drafted the most recent resolution after the U.S. blocked at least four attempts to have the council issue a press statement calling for an end to the violence, giving the same reason. Diplomats said all other council members supported the statement.
A press statement requires agreement by all 15 council members, but a resolution requires only at least nine “yes” votes and no veto by the United States or any of the four other permanent members.
A French government spokesman had said “very intense discussions” were taking place with the United States on Wednesday about the proposed resolution, which UN diplomats said calls for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid for Gaza.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said later in the day:
“We’ve been clear and consistent that we are focused on intensive diplomatic efforts under way to bring an end to the violence and that we will not support actions that we believe undermine efforts to de-escalate.”
The White House said that U.S. President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he expected “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.”
But Netanyahu said later he was “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.”
The aim was likely revealed in an interview that Netanyahu gave to CBS’ John Dickerson on May 16th.
Dickerson asked Netanyahu if his motivations for using disproportional force to kill Palestinian people, including civilians and children were to remain in power.
“You are under investigation for bribery, fraud, breach of trust,” Dickerson noted. “You’ve also had some difficult — four failed attempts to put together a government in the last 23 months. This leads to the criticism that your current actions are basically an effort to stay in power.”
“That’s preposterous,” Netanyahu insisted. He then gave a likely fabricated, but emotionally-charged story of how an Israeli soldier “died in his arms”.
“A few years later, my brother died while leading a rescue mission to release Israeli hostages,” he continued. “I’ve seen comrades fall, I’ve seen my brother fall. And I think anybody who knows me knows that I’ve never, ever subordinated security concerns, the life of our soldiers, the life of our citizens for political interests.”
“That’s just hogwash,” Netanyahu added.
“But this is a persistent criticism, Mr. Prime Minister,” Dickerson explained.
“It persists because I’ve been reelected five times,” Netanyahu remarked. “It persists because I beat every other candidate.”
Meanwhile, Russia warned Israel of engaging in further violence that costs civilians’ lives.
The escalating conflict is of “extreme concern” to the Kremlin, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov urged Israel to carefully consider the actions they take.
“In a frank exchange of opinion on the situation in the Israeli-Palestinian relations, including the one in the Gaza Strip, the Russian side expressed extreme concern over the escalation of tensions and stressed the impermissibility of steps fraught with more civilian casualties,” Bogdanov told Alexander Ben Zvi, Israel’s ambassador in Moscow, according to state news agency TASS.
Russia’s “very closely monitoring the developments” in the area, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on May 19th. Peskov urged both parties to be “utterly cautious in their statements” so as to not “add fuel to the fire.”
Peskov also said Russia is willing to play host to conversations and was making “initiatives within its powers” to serve as a venue for direct contacts.