Israel withdrew on Friday from its candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, a step taken after the council called for an investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters over the last six weeks.
The Israeli delegation to the UN released a statement saying: “After consulting with our partners, including our good friends, the State of Israel has decided to postpone its candidacy for a seat on the Security Council.”
This leaves Germany and Belgium as candidates for the two seats allocated to the Western European and Others Group.
The withdrawal decision was described by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry as “proof that Israel is not able to compete in the UN Security Council which aims to restore peace and security.”
The ministry said that it had lobbied with several countries and alliances to abort Israel’s attempt to join the council.
In March, the United Nations urged an independent and transparent investigation into the deaths of more than a dozen Palestinians that took place on a the first of a series of Friday protests, which Palestinians used to commemorate Nakba Day. The UN Security Council in April convened a closed emergency meeting at the request of Kuwait to discuss the deadly clashes in Gaza.
On Friday, thousands of Palestinians gathered near Gaza’s border with Israel as part of their ongoing protest against a decade-old blockade of the territory. At least 200 protesters were hospitalised, including 70 with bullet wounds, according to Gaza health officials.
An Israeli military spokesperson said around 7,000 Palestinians took part in “riots” at five locations along the Gaza Strip border. He said one group had tried to breach the fence and enter Israeli territory.
The mass protests, called by Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group, have been taking place every Friday since 30 March to demand the right of return for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
The protests are expected to continue until 15 May, when Hamas says the protesters might breach the border fence to mark the 70th anniversary of their uprooting and the formation of the Israeli state in 1948.
At least 39 Palestinians have been killed, while Israel has said that it is defending its borders and that soldiers only target instigators who hurl stones and Molotov cocktails.