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U.S. objects to U.N. meeting on Israel, Gaza on Friday - diplomats

·2-min read
An Israeli firefighting plane extinguishes a fire on a field of wheat after a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed near homes in Moshav Zohar

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States has objected to a request by China, Norway and Tunisia for a public, virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday to discuss the worsening violence between Israel and Palestinian militants, diplomats said.

The United States, a close ally of Israel, cited diplomatic efforts as the reason for the objection, saying a council discussion would not be productive, but left the door open for a possible meeting on Tuesday, the diplomats said.

"The United States communicated support for an open meeting in the Security Council early next week in order to give space to diplomatic efforts under way at the highest levels to de-escalate tensions and move toward a ceasefire," said an official at the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

The 15-member council has met privately twice this week on the worst hostilities in the region in years, but has so far been unable to issue a public statement because the United States did not believe it would be helpful, diplomats said.

Such statements are agreed by consensus. All 15 council members also have to agree to a meeting under rules guiding the body's virtual operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Israel unleashed its offensive on militants in Gaza after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Worried hostilities could spiral out of control, the United States is sending an envoy to the region. Truce efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations have so far offered no sign of progress.

"The Security Council and international community should do its outmost to contribute to avoid a full-scale crisis," Norway's U.N. Ambassador Mona Juul said on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Howard Goller)

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