At an emergency session of the United NationsSecurity Council Tuesday, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley denied the violence in Gaza Monday had anything to do with the U.S. opening up its new embassy in Jerusalem.
“Rather, the violence comes from those who reject the existence of the state of Israel in any location,” Haley said. “The location of the embassy has no bearing on the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. … It does not undermine the prospects for peace in any way.”
Haley placed the blame for the violence, in which at least 60 people were killed according to Gaza’s health ministry, squarely on Hamas terrorists, backed by Iran.
A vocal supporter of Israel, Haley walked out of the Security Council meeting in protest before the Palestinian representative addressed the chamber.
Haley attempted to move attention to Iran throughout her remarks, chastising the Security Council for not focusing more on Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region. “That is violence that should occupy our attention, too,” Haley said.
While other representatives condemned the killing of Palestinians by live fire in the strongest terms, Haley merely said, “We are all concerned about violence in the Middle East. The United States deplores the loss of human life.”
Haley went further than other Trump administration officials in talking about whether Israel should show restraint. Until Tuesday, White House deputy press Security Raj Shah and a State Department spokesperson both agreed Israel has a right to defend itself, but would not say whether Israel has a responsibility to act with restraint.
But Haley claimed Israel’s response to protestors has indeed been restrained, saying “no country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”
Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process, began the session with a markedly different tone, calling Monday's events a tragedy for the Palestinians.
“Who can find the words to console the mother of a child that has been killed? Who?” Mladenov asked. He called on Israel to protect their borders proportionally, and to investigate every incident that causes loss of life. He also said the international community must step in to prevent war in the region.
Kuwait called for the emergency session Monday, and also proposed a draft statement that would have called for an independent investigation into the deadly violence. But the United States blocked the adoption of the statement, according to a UN Security Council diplomat.
“We regret the Security Council was unable to adopt the draft statement,” Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi said.
The Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, responded by calling for a “transparent, independent, and international inquiry to be conducted.”
“The occupation is the main source of violence in our region. Any attempt to falsify this by some does not match reality. To those who have different rhetoric and agendas, why have you so often blocked a transparent, independent, international inquiry?” Mansour said, without directly referring to the United States. He also criticized the UN Security Council for inaction on Palestine.
Before the session, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told reporters Hamas has committed a “double war crime” for inciting both Israel and its own people. Danon said Israel regrets every casualty, but the people on the border are a “mob” carrying explosives.