Traditional US allies in the UN Security Council including Britain, France, Sweden, Italy and Japan have criticised President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
At an emergency council meeting on Friday on the impact of Mr Trump’s announcement, Britain’s UN ambassador Matthew Rycroft called the US decision “unhelpful to peace”.
Sweden’s UN ambassador Olof Skoog said the US action “contradicts international law and Security Council resolutions”, stressing that Jerusalem’s status is to be decided in direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
French ambassador Francois Delattre expressed regret at the US decision, citing legal grounds, its impact on efforts to reach a two-state solution and the potential escalation of violence.
He said the United States must explain how Mr Trump’s action aligns with the legal foundation “on which all peace efforts are based”.
Sebastiano Cardi, from Italy, said Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated and expressed serious concern at “the risk of unrest and tensions in the region” while Japan’s ambassador Koro Bessho said his government opposes “any unilateral measures” and feared the heightened tensions on the ground, saying violence “can easily snowball into larger crises”.
The council meeting was held after a man was killed and dozens more were wounded in skirmishes between Israeli forces and protesters along Gaza’s border with Israel.
Mohammed Al-Masri, 30, died after being struck by live fire east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, the Palestinian health ministry said.
More than 35 Palestinians were injured, two seriously, it added.
It was the first death since clashes erupted across the Palestinian territories after Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Israeli military said in a statement that during clashes along the border fence, soldiers “fired selectively at two main instigators” and confirmed hitting them.
The US ambassador to the UN said Mr Trump knew his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would raise “questions and concerns” but took it to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Nikki Haley told the meeting that the US is more committed to peace “than we’ve ever been before – and we believe we might be closer to that goal than ever before”.
The Trump administration has been working on a new peace plan but Ms Haley gave no details.
She noted that past Israeli-Palestinian agreements have been signed on the White House lawn, and if there is a new agreement there is “a good likelihood” it will be signed there as well “because the United States has credibility of both sides”.
She urged all countries “to temper statements and actions in the days ahead,” saying anyone who used Mr Trump’s announcement as a pretext for violence would show that they were “unfit partners for peace”.
But Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour said that “one party cannot continue to monopolise the peace process,” especially one that is biased in favour of “the occupying power,” Israel.
He urged the Security Council to denounce what he called the “irresponsible” US decision and reaffirm its position on the status of Jerusalem – that the holy city’s status is unresolved and must be decided during Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations on a two-state solution.
He said the council must “affirm its rejection of all violations of that status”.
Mr Mansour said the Security Council must also act to avert “further exacerbation of religious sensitivities”.
He said they threaten to turn the conflict “into a never-ending religious war that will only be exploited by extremists, fuelling more radicalism, violence and strife in the region and elsewhere”.