UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting behind closed doors Sunday, with the United States demanding all 15 members strongly condemn “these heinous terrorist attacks committed by Hamas,” but they took no immediate action.
U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood said afterward that “a good number of countries” did condemn the Hamas attack but not all council members. He told reporters they could probably figure out one of them.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, told The Associated Press the Americans tried to say during the meeting that Russia isn’t condemning the attacks, but “that’s untrue.”
“It was in my comments,” he said. “We condemn all the attacks on civilians.”
Nebenzia said Russia’s message is: “It’s important to stop the fighting immediately, to go to a cease-fire and to meaningful negotiations, which were stalled for decades.”
Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun voiced a similar position earlier, as he headed into the meeting. He said Beijing condemns all attacks on civilians, though he did not mention Hamas.
“What’s really important is to prevent the further escalation of the situation and further casualties of civilians,” Zhang said. “What’s also important is really to come back to the two-state solution.”
Wood made clear the U.S. is focused on condemning Hamas for “this unprovoked invasion and the terrorist attacks,” and said Hamas must end its “violent terrorist activity against the Israeli people.”
Asked if it wasn’t important to restart talks on a two-state solution and end the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he replied: “There’ll be time for that. The time right now is we’ve got to deal with the hostage taking, the violence that is going on that’s being perpetrated by Hamas. and we’ve got to deal with first things first.”
China’s ambassador said it is important the Security Council, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, “have its voice heard.” But Russia’s Nebenzia said no country put forward a statement for the council’s consideration.
That could happen in the coming days, if differences over condemning Hamas and condemning civilian deaths can be bridged, along with agreement on possible language on ending the violence and resuming negotiations.
Malta’s U.N. ambassador, Vanessa Frazier, who called for the meeting, said she didn’t know if the council would adopt a statement, but added that any condemnation must be mostly against Hamas. “Palestinian civilians are also victims in this and Hamas put them in this position,” she said.
Council members were briefed virtually by U.N. Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland.
Nebenzia said Wennesland told the council that the situation was “precarious” and “awful” and that “people are scared on both sides.”