UN envoys to see scale of Gaza crisis during visit to Rafah crossing - but US representative will not be with them

UN envoys to see scale of Gaza crisis during visit to Rafah crossing - but US representative will not be with them

It is billed as an unprecedented trip – the first of its kind for about a dozen UN ambassadors to witness the devastating effects of the war in Gaza.

It comes in the wake of the failure of the United Nations (UN) Security Council to agree on a ceasefire in Gaza after the United States used its veto and pushed through an emergency sale of more than $100m (£80m) worth of tank ammunition to Israel.

Diplomats are still scrambling to try to find some way to ease the growing humanitarian needs of those inside the war zone in the face of thousands of Palestinian casualties and abortive and deadly hostage rescue attempts.

Israel has signaled its intention to continue fighting inside the Gaza Strip for months more if necessary to defeat Hamas.

The 193-member UN General Assembly has scheduled an emergency meeting on Tuesday to vote on a draft resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

But there are no vetoes in the General Assembly, and its decisions are not legally binding.

However, there’s likely to be more significant political fallout if it is widely agreed by most other countries.

In the face of mounting frustration over the inability of the world body to reach a consensus, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has hastily arranged a field trip to the Egypt-Gaza border on Monday to try to show UN envoys first-hand the dire situation on the ground – and press further for the need for an immediate ceasefire.

The UAE is also hurriedly trying to redraw another resolution where it will demand the warring parties “allow the use of all land, sea and air routes to and throughout” Gaza for aid.

The resolution would also establish a UN-run aid monitoring mechanism in the Gaza Strip – at the moment Israel is doing all the checking – but it’s not clear when that resolution will be put to the vote.

The UN Security Council envoys have already heard secretary-general Antonio Guterres warn of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, and he has said Gaza is at “breaking point”.

But even his dramatic attempt to force agreement by invoking Article 99 – the strongest diplomatic weapon at his disposal – has failed. He insisted on social media on Sunday however he would “not give up”.

But although invitations were extended to all 15 Security Council members, significantly the US representative is not on the trip.

The US use of its veto power to scupper the resolution calling for a ceasefire also saw the UK abstaining, while the remaining 13 other members all voted in favor.