Wednesday, 19 May 2021 -
As the World awaits the United States move to avert the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, Russia and China are looking to capitalize on Washington’s go-slow, casting doubt on the U.S commitment to multilateralism and protection of human rights.
The Gaza – East Jerusalem Crisis
For the second week running, the Israeli military and the Hamas are exchanging rocket fire and airstrikes, and concerns have been raised on the probability of this crisis escalating to an all-out war. This is after Hezbollah forces from Lebanon fired six rockets that fall close to the Northern border with Israel, May 18.
Linda Thomas, who is the United States ambassador to the U.N, hosted a United Nations session aimed at lobbying for the global condemnation of China based on its well-documented mistreatment of the Uyghur Muslims. China, on its part, has suggested that the US calls are efforts to divert scrutiny over its commitment to human rights in the wake of the ongoing Israeli – Palestinian crisis.
The US Blocks Israeli Condemnation
The 17 May event, hosted by Germany, Britain, and the United States, came on the backdrop of the Gaza crisis that had stirred countries such as Norway, China, Russia, and Tunisia to pass a statement through the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) criticizing Israel and calling on its forces to observe a ceasefire. However, the U.S blocked those calls, an action that has some diplomats (especially from China) raising doubts about the US commitment to the United Nations and multilateralism.
The Gaza Strip crisis has so far resulted in the deaths of over 200 Palestinians (mostly children and women) and 10 Israelis. The ongoing international discussion has seen global protests graze cities across the world from Paris, Bali, London, and more in support of the Palestinians. This imbroglio, which has torn apart the fabric of Israeli society, has put a spotlight on the U.S credentials as a global leader in humanitarian law.
Washington has resisted calls to condemn Israel for its part in the crisis, actions which have seen the US face unprecedented domestic and international political pressure. This has seen countries like China, Tunisia, and Norway seek to condemn Israel through a joint statement through the U.N Security Council (UNSC).
What This Means for Biden’s Administration
Amid the growing global political pressure, U.S president Biden spearheaded calls for a ceasefire through a telephone conversion Monday with Netanyahu (Israeli prime minister). And with a swift turnaround, the U.S president blocked attempts by the U.N diplomats to adopt a joint statement criticizing Israel. However, Biden publicly urged the warring parties to stand down, saying a ceasefire was needed to avert civilian casualties.
The Biden administration earlier pledged to re-join the UNHRC for the support of human rights, representing a turnaround from Trump's policy. Additionally, Washington has recently championed efforts to address human rights violations in China, Myanmar, and Ethiopia.
However, a U.N Human Rights Watch diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, has said that Israel should be held accountable for its part in the Middle East crisis, just like everyone else. And Washington's resistance to condemn Israel continues to baffle many diplomats, citing that the U.S position will only undermine the credibility of the Biden administration.
(Written and edited by: The Decision Maker team)