The Flotilla in the Council

Colum Lynch reports that Turkey is pressing for a Security Council statement on the Israeli commando raid on a flotilla headed for Gaza. The issue comes at a delicate moment for U.S. diplomats, as they attempt to forge Council consensus on the next round of Iran sanctions. And that dynamic may give those pushing for criticism of Israel needed leverage, as the U.S. will be loath to veto a draft resolution.

There’s an interesting parallel here to the months preceding the first Gulf War. Then, violence flared on the Temple Mount as the U.S. was struggling to keep together its fragile coalition against Iraq. To placate key Arab allies, the first Bush administration ended up agreeing to criticism of Israel that it normally would have vetoed. Even so, the negotiation of the precise wording was drawn out and laborious.

How Council diplomacy plays out this time will in large part depend on the attitude of Council members such as Turkey and Lebanon. If they try to force a tough resolution to a vote, they could push Washington into a difficult corner: The Obama administration needs goodwill from Council members, but it also would like to repair frayed relations with Israel.

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About David Bosco

Assistant Professor at American University's School of International Service. Contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine. Author of Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics and Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World
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