At the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the United States (U.S.) blocked efforts by Kuwait, Indonesia, and South Africa to condemn Israeli’s demolition of 10 buildings housing 70 apartments in Sur Bahir, which overlaps East Jerusalem and Areas A and B in the West Bank. United Nations (UN) officials had called for Israel to halt the demolitions, which were carried out on 7/22.
Later in the quarter, the U.S. blocked a UNSC statement drafted by the French delegation condemning “all violations of the Blue Line” after Israel and Hezbollah exchanged fire near the border. According to the UN diplomats, the U.S. blocked the statement because it objected to the “moral equivalence” between Israel and Hezbollah.
In late July, a bombshell hit the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). A confidential report by the agency’s ethics office was leaked to several media outlets alleging that UNRWA commissioner general Pierre Krähenbühl had “engaged in sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and abuses of authority.” Others from the senior management team were also implicated. UNRWA has been in an extremely tough spot since the U.S. administration decided to cut all funding for the agency in August 2018. After allegations against Krähenbühl became public, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Belgium announced that they have halted any further contributions to UNRWA while the investigation of the UNRWA leadership is ongoing. UN secretary-general António Guterres said he would not comment on the allegations as long as the investigation was ongoing. By the end of the quarter, Commissioner General Krähenbühl was still in his position.
Israeli Settlements and Demolitions
UN officials criticized the demolition of the 10 buildings in Sur Bahir (see above) and the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov condemned Israel’s decision to expand 4 Israeli settlements in the West Bank with 2,304 new housing units for Israeli settlers.