Council members will meet in consultations at 3 p.m. today (20 November) to discuss this morning’s request by Morocco, on behalf of the Arab Group, that the Security Council hold an open debate on the deteriorating situation in Gaza. It seems the idea of holding an open debate, if the Council failed to take any action on the situation in Gaza, was brought up on 17 November by a delegation representing the Arab League in a meeting with the President of the Council (India).
The formal request for an open debate came shortly after the US broke silence this morning on a draft press statement which was circulated last Friday (16 November) and negotiated at length yesterday (19 November)—it was put under silence yesterday evening until 9 a.m. this morning. The revised draft press statement called on all parties to immediately halt violence and expressed support for mediation efforts by Egypt and the Secretary-General. However, agreement could not be reached on how to reference the call to halt all launching of rockets from within Gaza into Israel. It seems the US viewed the launching of rockets from Gaza as the root cause of the current escalation of violence and wanted an explicit reference to this in the text. However, other members felt this would be unbalanced.
Also yesterday, Russia circulated and put in blue a draft resolution (S/2012/855) on the Gaza situation encouraging Israel and the Palestinian authorities to resume “a substantive bilateral negotiating process”. It suggested that it would call for a vote if silence was broken on the draft press statement. However, at press time, it there was no indication that Russia had made a formal request for a vote on the draft resolution.
In the meantime, some Council members are concerned that any Council discussion of or response to the Gaza situation would struggle to keep up with developments on the ground. Today, the Secretary-General met with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Secretary-General for the Arab League, Nabil el-Araby, to discuss Egypt’s mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas. Media reports this morning indicated that a truce may begin tonight and it is possible that the Council may take the step of welcoming such a truce. However, the same dynamics that made it difficult to agree to a press statement expressing concern over the escalation of violence may similarly hinder the possibility of a timely agreement on welcoming a truce.
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