NEW YORK: Kuwait’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi speaks during a Security Council session

UNITED NATIONS: Kuwait yesterday circulated a watered-down draft UN Security Council resolution on setting up an international ‘protection mission’ for the Palestinians in a bid to win European support in a vote expected this week, diplomats said. The council could hold a vote, possibly today, on the draft resolution that is expected to face a US veto, the diplomats said. Still, Kuwait, a non-permanent council member that represents Arab countries, is hoping to win a high number of votes in favor of its proposal to highlight Washington’s isolation on the Israeli- Palestinian issue.

The revised draft drops an outright demand for an international protection mission and instead requests that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres present recommendations. The new text “calls for the consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population” in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Gaza Strip, according to the draft obtained by AFP.

It requests that Guterres present a report within 60 days on proposals for the protection of Palestinian civilians including the establishment of an international mission.

France and Britain, two veto-wielding council members, have complained that the draft resolution lacked details on the scope and objective of the proposed protection mission, diplomats said. The United States meanwhile maintained that the measure was biased against Israel during two expert-level meetings held last week, according to diplomatic sources. Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon has slammed the proposed resolution as “shameful” and said it was designed to help Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas. Kuwait put forward the draft resolution ten days ago after Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border and the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem. Negotiations however have been tough-going with the Europeans and Africans pressing for more information on the proposed protection mission, according to diplomats.

Diplomats have said the Palestinians may turn to the UN General Assembly if the draft resolution on protection fails to win Security Council backing. The council is due to meet at the request of the United States to discuss Palestinian rocket firings on Israel from Gaza. The rocket and mortar firings from the Gaza Strip were claimed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, prompting Israel to respond with air strikes on bases of the militant Palestinian groups. It was the worst flareup since the 2014 war waged by Israel in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Washington has circulated a draft council statement that would condemn the firing of rockets by Palestinian militants in Gaza, but it remains unclear whether it will be approved. — AFP