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Having wielded veto, UNSC prez China says finding unity on Gaza ‘not easy’

IANS logo Reported By IANS |
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United Nations, Nov 12 (IANS) Taking over the presidency of the UN Security Council for this month, China’s Permanent Representative Zhang Jun presented its members with an ancient toy from his country as a symbol of the need for unanimity.

“Let’s take this as peace; once it’s broken, it can’t be fixed easily and one piece alone can’t do anything,” he said holding up the toy known as the ‘Lu Ban Lock’ with six interlocking pieces of wood that collapses if one is removed.

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He could well be speaking of the veto powers of the permanent members of the Security Council of which China is one and has vetoed a resolution on a humanitarian pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas,although he deflected any link to veto powers.


The Council, which alone has the powers to enforce its decisions–though as a practical matter it cannot effectively impose sanctions on or take military action against Israel — could not even agree on asking for a humanitarian pause or a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

It failed to pass any of the four resolutions brought before it, two because of the veto powers, one by the US and the other by China and Russia, and the other two because it could not get the majority of eight needed to pass.

China and Russia opposed the resolution they vetoed because it did not call for a ceasefire, and the US because the resolution did not affirm Israel’s right to self-defence.

Zhang spoke of the moral and legal duties of the Council in dealing with the conflict and “our general belief among council members that we have to take action”, he was candid enough to admit to the difficulties.

Finding solidarity and cooperation of the members “is not an easy job”, he said.

“I’m not in a position to tell you that I can get all the things done, but what I can tell you is that we will spare no effort in facilitating the cooperation of council members in fulfilling our tasks and our responsibilities,” he said.

And that is where the Council stands.

It’s more than a month after the vicious October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas that killed 1,200 people and took more than 240 as hostages, and the brutal reprisals by Israel against Hamas in Gaza that has claimed 10,000 lives according to the territory’s health ministry controlled by Hamas.

The General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a humanitarian truce with 120 for it in the 193-member body, 14 against and 45 abstentions (including that of India).

But it has only a symbolic value.

Elsewhere, the UN has achieved some practical results.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, bristles at the often-made claim that the UN is a failure and he points to the successes in areas where it can act.

“I think the question is which UN you are talking about, right? I can only speak for a part of that, and that’s the Secretary-General’s,” he told a reporter who spoke of the UN’s ineffectiveness.

“There are other parts, legislative parts in the UN that could be doing more to ensure an end to this conflict,” he said in a criticism of the deadlocked Council.

The UN’s diplomacy — that is of the machinery under Guterres and not a Council fiat — contributed to the opening of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza to vehicles ferrying relief supplies including food, medicine and water, giving a lifeline to Palestinians in Gaza staring at starvation.

Most of the relief is from UN agencies, which also arrange the transportation.

Guterres went right up to the border to make his case for breaking through Israel’s stranglehold against relief to the 2 million people trapped in Gaza.

The UN has been demanding that at least 100 trucks be allowed in everyday, but Israel has permitted far less than that, yet a win for its diplomacy and organisation.

The biggest symbol of UN’s effectiveness in Gaza is tragically the more than 100 staffers in its relief operation there who have been killed since October 7.

(Arul Louis can be contacted atarul.l@ians.inand followed at @arulouis)

–IANS

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(This report is auto-generated from IANS news service. 'Main Media' holds no responsibility for its content.)

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