Tensions emerge between the United States and France at the United Nations over the conflict in Gaza
Despite a guaranteed US veto, France on Wednesday proposed another draft resolution calling for an end to hostilities and humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip. The United States has vetoed similar measures in recent days, with a UN spokesperson saying Washington was continuing its own “intensive diplomatic efforts.”
The conflict in the Middle East has sparked a diplomatic standoff at the United Nations between France and the United States, the first open tension between the two allies since Joe Biden was sworn in in January.
Despite guaranteed opposition from the United States, France proposed a draft UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as humanitarian access to the Strip. Gaza.
The United States has repeatedly vetoed similar resolutions in recent days, saying it is instead looking for other ways to resolve the crisis. In an appeal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Biden expressed support for a ceasefire between Israel and the militant group Hamas that rules Gaza.
But France’s proposal – announced in a statement Tuesday night and undertaken in coordination with Egypt and Jordan – quickly drew a firm response from the United States, signaling that it would again exercise its veto if necessary.
A US spokesperson at the UN told AFP: “[We] focus on the intensive diplomatic efforts underway to end the violence and on the fact that we will not support actions that we believe undermine de-escalation efforts. “
At the same time, the White House announced that Biden directly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that he expected immediate “de-escalation”.
“The president has let the prime minister know that he expects a significant de-escalation today on the road to a ceasefire,” the White House said after a fourth phone call between the two men in a little over a week.
As diplomatic efforts intensified to stem the bloodshed, Germany said its top diplomat was traveling to Israel for talks on Thursday. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will meet with Israeli foreign and defense ministers and travel to Ramallah to meet with the Palestinian prime minister, his office said.
The Security Council has been criticized for failing to adopt a declaration on Gaza, with the United States having already rejected three draft declarations – proposed by China, Norway and Tunisia – calling for an end to the fighting.
Announcing its draft proposal, the Élysée Palace said: “the shooting must stop, the time has come for a ceasefire and the UN Security Council must take up the issue” .
Geraldine Byrne Nason, UN Ambassador for Ireland, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, said “members have a collective responsibility for international peace and security”.
“It is high time for the Council to step in, break its silence and speak out.”
‘It’s a bit strange’
France has not proposed a date for the vote on its motion for a resolution and the draft text does not seem to have been widely disseminated among the 15 members of the Security Council.
The omissions raised speculation that the proposal was an attempt to increase pressure on Washington, or to stress that Biden was not pursuing a more multilateral approach to international affairs than his predecessor Donald Trump.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Parliament on Wednesday that “the American position will be quite decisive … It is true that we have seen the United States a little behind on all this”.
“It’s a bit strange considering the expectation we all had for the Americans to return to multilateral diplomacy,” a UN ambassador told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding: “We also thought that the United States would be keen to show the relevance of the Security Council in situations like this. “
Another remarked that with UN resolutions, “we’re just asking the United States to support a Security Council statement that would say pretty much similar things that are being said bilaterally from Washington.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that if Washington believed UN action “would indeed advance the goal, we would.”
The palpable tension between France and the United States could leave traces and affect other issues. The two countries also disagreed this week over whether to provide assistance to the anti-jihadist force G5 Sahel.
France, which is strongly politically and militarily engaged in the region, has been campaigning for years for financial, logistical and operational support from the UN to help the 5,000 under-equipped soldiers from Niger, Chad, from Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso.
The Trump administration flatly refused and France had hoped for more support after Biden took office in January. But the United States has since continued to oppose the French position, supporting bilateral aid instead.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)