15 January 2009
General Assembly
GA/10807

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

General Assembly Plenary

Tenth Emergency Special Session

32nd & 33rd Meetings (AM & PM)


GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT SAYS ‘ GAZA IS ABLAZE,’ RELENTLESS ASSAULT CONTINUES,


DESPITE SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION, AS EMERGENCY SESSION ON CRISIS OPENS


Assembly Hears from 28 Speakers on Session’s First Day;

Deputy Secretary-General Says Civilian Suffering in Gaza ‘Must End Now’


As the General Assembly resumed an emergency special session today to address the mounting death toll and widespread suffering among civilians in the three-week-old Gaza crisis, the Assembly President told delegates that the session had been convened because, despite the adoption last week of Security Council resolution 1860 calling for an immediate ceasefire, “the relentless assault continues.  Gaza is ablaze.” 


Too many United Nations workers had been killed and gravely injured and too many United Nations buildings had been damaged and destroyed, said Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, in an opening statement to the session.  Earlier today, the Israeli military had bombed the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza, while the Secretary-General was on an official visit to the country.


Further, he questioned the presumption that, if the Security Council had responded to the current crisis within the grouping of the Quartet, or other Member States, the Assembly was bound to support their lead.  All Member States shared an individual and collective responsibility to uphold the Charter and ensure compliance with United Nations resolutions and international law.


He said the Assembly should pass a resolution that reflected the situation’s urgency and the Assembly’s commitment to end the slaughter.  The Assembly did not have time for a talk-fest or long and complicated resolutions that recalled every previous position and re-examined every unfilled mandate.


United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro termed the continued violence and suffering as unacceptable.  The Secretary-General was in the region to underscore the urgent need for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), she said.  He had held talks this week in Egypt and Jordan, was in Israel today, and would meet with Palestinian leaders before travelling on to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Kuwait.


“There is no question that the civilian population of Gaza faces an acute and deepening humanitarian crisis,” she stressed.  Entire families had perished in the violence, including women and children, United Nations staff and medical workers.  The time had come for the violence to stop.  “There is no more time to lose,” she said.  “The civilian suffering must end now.”


Calling resolution 1860 an important and absolutely necessary step towards bringing an end to a crisis that threatened to destabilize the region, the Permanent Observer of Palestine said the Council’s action was vital to the ultimate success of the Egyptian initiative and other regional and international efforts to bring peace to the area.  The Assembly needed to add its authority and voice by calling for the immediate implementation of the Council’s resolution and intensifying international pressure for its respect.


The current situation was untenable and could not be allowed to continue, he continued.  If the current collective efforts to secure a durable ceasefire failed, then the Palestinians had no choice but to return to the Council for adoption of a resolution under Chapter VII, with the appropriate measures to force Israel to stop its breaches of international law and human rights violations.


The representative of Israel stressed that her remarks were without prejudice to the principle that convening today’s special emergency session violated the United Nations Charter.  The session took place as the Council actively addressed the situation in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip, and the Charter stated that, while the Council was exercising its function, the Assembly should not make any recommendation with regard to a disputed situation.


The Assembly was trampling on the very principles it committed itself to uphold, she added.  While it had strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the Assembly had not condemned the Hamas attacks; or Iran, which made many of the missiles smuggled into Gaza during the period of the so-called calm; or Syria, which hosted Hamas’ headquarters.  The Assembly had adopted a resolution on the safety and security of United Nations personnel, but where was its condemnation of Hamas for deliberately endangering civilians by hiding missiles in hospitals, and firing them around United Nations schools?


Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the representative of Cuba said a resolution should be adopted which helped implement resolution 1860 and efforts to halt Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza.  Like many other delegates, he strongly condemned Israel’s massive military aggression and its disregard of resolution 1860.   Cuba’s representative demanded the implementation of the resolution, including its call for an immediate ceasefire that led to the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from Gaza.  Another immediate measure was the opening of border crossings to ensure free access of humanitarian aid.


He demanded that Israel unconditionally comply with its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, related to the protection of civilian persons in the time of war.  He was very concerned about the difficulties faced by medical and rescue workers, as they tried to evacuate and treat civilians, and condemned Israel’s targeting and killing of United Nations humanitarian personnel.


Also speaking today were the representatives of Senegal (also spoke as Chair of Palestinian Rights Committee), Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union), Morocco (on behalf of the Group of Arab States), Malaysia, France (as President of Security Council), Uganda (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference), Indonesia, India, Egypt, Turkey, Yemen, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, South Africa, Iran, Viet Nam, Bahrain, Syria, Brazil, Qatar, Argentina, Algeria, Bangladesh, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.


The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 16 January, to continue its emergency special session.


Background


The General Assembly met today to resume its tenth emergency special session on Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  For its consideration of that issue, it had before it several documents, the first of which was a 7 January 2009 letter from the Permanent Representative of Malaysia (document A/ES-10/434), conveying a letter from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, requesting full support for the convening of an emergency special session.


Other documents included:  a letter dated 7 January 2009 from the Charge d’affaires, ad interim of Venezuela (document A/ES-10/436); a letter dated 8 January 2009 from the Permanent Representative of Indonesia (document A/ES-10/440); and an 8 January 2009 note verbale from the Permanent Mission of Syria (document A/ES-10/441).  Also before the Assembly was a 14 January 2009 letter from the Permanent Representative of Israel, which demanded the cancellation of today’s meeting.


Point of Order


In a point of order, the representative of Israel sought clarification on the validity of convening today’s special session, which was taking place as the Security Council was actively addressing the situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip.  The Security Council remained seized of the matter, and it held consultations two days ago.  Moreover, the Secretary-General was visiting the Middle East, including Israel, to facilitate a solution to the conflict.  As such, he wondered how the meeting fell within the principles of the United Nations Charter.


Responding, the General Assembly President said he had been falsely accused of trying to silence Israel.  “That was an absolute and total lie,” he said.  Now, it was ironic that Israel was trying to silence the General Assembly.  Shortly before the joint press conference of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Israeli Foreign Minister, the United Nations headquarters in Gaza was bombed.  The Security Council resolution was being ignored in practice, and verbally disdained by Israel’s Prime Minister.  Nothing forbade the General Assembly from putting its full weight behind a resolution, which, whether weak or not, was being totally ignored.


The Secretary added that the advice of the Legal Office had been sought.


The representative of Cuba wished to add to the Secretary’s comments that the declaration of the Non-Aligned Countries fully supported the call for the resumed special session.  A large group of third-world nations supported today’s meeting.


Responding, the representative of Israel said it was a question of the Charter.  Sought to clarify that according to General Assembly resolution 377, emergency special sessions were only to be held when the Security Council failed to fulfil its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.  Paragraph 31 of the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the illegal construction of the wall also stated that a special session could be reconvened only when the Security Council failed to exercise its responsibility.


Responding, the Secretary said today’s meeting was not a new emergency special session.  On the International Court of Justice opinion, he said he had not sought an opinion by the Legal Office on that.


The General Assembly President said he wished Israel would be as meticulous in complying with United Nations resolutions.  He would not allow today’s meeting to be boycotted.


Responding, the representative of Israel said he sought clarification of the International Court of Justice advisory opinion adopted by the Assembly.


The Secretary said that rule 71 of the rules of procedure said that, during discussion of a matter, representatives could rise to a point of order.  The President had enjoined for the meeting to continue.  The representative could appeal, and that appeal would be put to a vote.  A representative rising to a point of order could not, however, speak to the substance of the session.


The representative of Israel said he did not wish to challenge the President of the General Assembly.


Statement by General Assembly President


Resuming the tenth emergency special session on the Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, General Assembly President MIGUEL D’ESCOTO BROCKMANN said the crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, specifically the Gaza Strip, had raged for far too long, too many people had died, and too many Untied Nations workers had been killed and gravely injured, while too many United Nations buildings had been damaged and destroyed.  Several hours ago, the Israeli military had bombed the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza, while the Secretary-General was on an official visit to the country.


He said Israel remained the occupying Power in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the Gaza Strip, and it had specific obligations under the Geneva Convention to protect the occupied population.  The violations of international law inherent in the Gaza assault were well-documented:  collective punishment, disproportionate military force, attacks on civilian targets, including homes, mosques, universities and schools.  The blockade of Gaza –- a violation in which the United Nations was directly complicit -- had been going on for 19 months and was directly responsible for the widespread humanitarian crisis in Gaza, even before the current Israeli assault had begun.  That blockade violated article 33 of the Geneva Convention, which prohibited collective punishment.  Yet, the blockade had been endorsed by powerful parties grouped in the Quartet, placing the United Nations in a dubious role and in violation of its obligations under the Charter and international law.


He said there seemed to be a presumption that, if the Security Council had decided to respond to the current crisis in Gaza within the grouping of the Quartet, or other Member States, the Assembly was bound and had to confine itself to supporting and following their lead.  However, all Member States shared an individual and collective responsibility, as the Untied Nations Assembly, to uphold the Charter and ensure compliance with United Nations resolutions and international law.


He said that, when he assumed the President’s Office, he had made a commitment to the revitalization of the General Assembly.  While it was not his role to prescribe a solution to a long-standing conflict, it was his duty to remind Member States of their duties and responsibilities under the law of the United Nations.  Thus, it was time to consider the implications of the United Nations presence in the Quartet, and take into consideration the counsel of its own judicial organs.  It was also necessary to look at what the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories called the very commitment of the United Nations to human rights.  Was it not incumbent upon the United Nations to rethink its role in the Quartet, to rethink how the United Nations itself was knowingly, almost wilfully, violating key tenets of international law and its own Charter?  “We must ask ourselves if it is not a conflict of interest for the United Nations to participate in the Quartet.”  Did United Nations participation not lend credibility to an ad hoc group that had shown itself willing to negotiate compromises that threatened to fundamentally weaken the international framework for securing and maintaining peace?


It was time to change that, he said.  He said he convened the meeting at the request of the 118 Member States that made up the Non-Aligned Movement and was fully aware that the Security Council had passed resolution 1860 last week.  “But the relentless onslaught continues”, he said.  “ Gaza is ablaze.”  The Council’s resolution had failed to bring about either a ceasefire or unimpeded humanitarian access and had been rejected by the two sides, Israel and Hamas.


He said the Assembly had come very late to this thirty-second meeting of the tenth emergency special session to respond to this urgent crisis.  Instead of talks, the power and prestige of the Assembly needed to be placed towards two urgent demands:  an immediate, unconditional ceasefire; and immediate unimpeded humanitarian access.


He said serious and expeditious diplomacy was needed, not false promises, to meet the Assembly’s unmet obligations to the occupied people of Gaza.  The United Nations needed to stand with the people around the world who were calling and acting to bring an end to the death and destruction.  That meant standing with the brave Israelis who were protesting the war and with the people in the frightened city of Sderot, who called for “another voice” to answer the rocket-fire with reconciliation, instead of war.


He said the Assembly should pass a resolution that reflected the urgency of the moment and the urgency of the Assembly’s commitment to end the slaughter.  The Assembly did not have time for long and complicated resolutions that recalled every previous position and re-examined every unfilled mandate.  This was the moment for an emergency response.  He said the Assembly’s work was to make good on its founding promise, now so desperately needed by the people of Gaza, and Sderot, to end the scourge of war.


Statement by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General


United Nations Deputy Secretary-General ASHA ROSE MIGIRO, noting that the situation in Gaza remained “extremely dire” for civilians, said the continued violence and suffering was unacceptable.  The Secretary-General was in the region to underscore the urgent need for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009).  He had held talks this week in Egypt and Jordan, and was in Israel today.  He would meet with Palestinian leaders before travelling on to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Kuwait.


She said his message was clear:  the fighting must come to an end now.  The rockets must stop.   Israel’s offensive must end, and the Security Council resolution must be respected.  Over 1,000 Palestinians had died, more than 4,700 had been injured, and some 40,000 people had taken refuge in UNRWA shelters.  The Secretary-General had also demanded that urgent humanitarian assistance be provided and distributed without restriction.


“There is no question that the civilian population of Gaza faces an acute and deepening humanitarian crisis,” she stressed.  Moreover, today, a United Nations compound in Gaza had been shelled again, and the Secretary-General, conveying his strong protest to Israel’s Prime Minister, among others, demanded a full explanation of the attack.  Israeli leaders, calling the incident a “grave mistake”, said such events would not be repeated.


There was a basic obligation to protect civilians and respect the sanctity of human life, she explained, and it was incumbent on the Organization to help alleviate the suffering, and to act decisively to help resolve the crisis.  From his talks in the region thus far, the Secretary-General believed that elements were in place for the violence to end.


“It is clear that a return to the status quo ante cannot be an option,” she said.  For a ceasefire to be sustained, arrangements were needed to ensure a halt to weapons smuggling into Gaza, the reopening of crossings and the reuniting of Gaza with the West Bank under its legitimate leadership.  For its part, the international community must engage in an early reconstruction effort.  “The time has come for the violence to stop and for us to change fundamentally the dynamics in Gaza,” she said.


In closing, she urged an end to the occupation that began in 1967, the establishment of a Palestinian State existing alongside Israel in peace and security, and the achievement of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.  There was no more time to lose.


Statements


RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of Palestine, said the Palestinian people continued to look to the international community, with its capacity and might of international law, to help bring about an immediate ceasefire, as called for by the Security Council, and end the Israeli onslaught and the grave injustices, suffering and hardships its people had been forced to endure.  He firmly believed in the primacy and rule of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, and the principles of the Charter and the fundamental role and responsibility that it had to uphold the question of Palestine until the achievement of a just, lasting, comprehensive and peaceful solution.


He said Security Council resolution 1860, adopted on 8 January 2009, was an important and absolutely necessary step towards bringing an end to the crisis, which threatened to further destabilize the region and gravely threatened the prospects for peace and security.  The Council’s action was vital to the ultimate success of the Egyptian initiative and other regional and international efforts under way to resolve the crisis and address its enormous political, security, humanitarian and socio-economic ramifications.


He welcomed other United Nations efforts, such as the Human Rights Council adoption of a resolution on 12 January 2009, that called for an immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks, among other requests; and the timely mission undertaken by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the region.  He was grateful for the assistance provided by UNRWA, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and other agencies and humanitarian organizations.


The Assembly needed to add its authority and voice by calling for the immediate implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) and intensifying international pressure for its respect.  The current situation was untenable and could not be allowed to continue, he said.


In violation of the Council’s resolution, and despite regional and international efforts, Israel continued its military attacks and used excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate force by air, land and sea against heavily populated civilian areas in the Gaza Strip, he said.  The reality on the ground was extremely shocking and disturbing, with enormous suffering and pain, widespread panic and fear, and vast devastation.  The humanitarian crisis was reaching catastrophic proportions in Gaza.  Independent investigation of the crimes committed by Israel, as called for by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council, was very important and should be acted upon.


He reiterated calls for Israel to lift the unjust and inhumane siege and blockade it had imposed on the Gaza Strip.  In accordance with the November 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, the Gaza Strip’s border crossings should be opened and the unhindered and safe access of humanitarian personnel and supplies should be allowed.  The Palestinian leadership affirmed its commitment to uphold its responsibilities in order to address the urgent issues that faced the Palestinian people at this time, he said.


The international community could not shy away from using all of its diplomatic and political tools, and legal instruments, to compel Israel to end its military campaign and its illegal polices and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  If the current collective efforts to secure a durable ceasefire failed, then the Palestinians had no choice but to return to the Security Council for adoption of a resolution under Chapter VII, with the appropriate measures to force Israel to stop the breaches of international law and human rights violations, he said.


PAUL BADJI ( Senegal), speaking first in national capacity, said the Israeli operations were taking place in the face of the international community’s silence.  Noting the adoption of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), he said that long-awaited text remained a dead letter, as the Council’s hesitations could be seen as an absence of the firmness required to ensure the observance of a ceasefire.  The international community, including the General Assembly, could not continue to shy away from the situation.  The occupying Power wrongly believed that war and destruction could resolve conflict with its neighbours.  There was no military solution to the conflict; only dialogue could lead to a just and lasting peace.


Senegal would be faithful to its commitment to the issue, he said.  It was essential to encourage all efforts to achieve an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the lifting of the blockade, the retreat of Israeli troops from Gaza, and the unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance.  He called for restraint to avoid further human loss and property damage.  Further, he urged the Security Council to adopt a new resolution that would send to the Gaza Strip an international observer mission under United Nations leadership.  Welcoming humanitarian assistance given thus far, he commended the efforts of UNRWA and non-governmental organizations to address humanitarian needs.  Palestinians had the right to expect a lasting solution to the conflict within the framework of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which should lead to a viable independent Palestinian State within secure and recognized borders.


Speaking next in his capacity as the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, he noted that over 300 children had been killed and more than 1,500 wounded since 27 December, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  Dozens of Israelis had also been killed and injured.  “The cost to human life, infrastructure and to the peace efforts is incalculable,” he said.


Parties must agree to a ceasefire, which included the withdrawal of Israeli troops and an end to rocket fire, he said.  A monitoring arrangement must be put in place, crossings reopened and medical and humanitarian supplies allowed unimpeded into Gaza.   Israel’s war contravened international humanitarian and human rights law, and scores of United Nations resolutions.   Israel’s aggression was morally unacceptable; Palestinians in Gaza lacked elementary protection and escape routes.  Despite assertions to the contrary, Israel was deepening the humanitarian crisis.  Its closure of border crossings and stifling of normal economic life violated the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The Gaza Strip remained an occupied territory, in that Israel fully controlled every aspect of daily life.


The Committee had always condemned rocket fire, and called again for its cessation, he said.  At the same time, it was unacceptable that the Gaza population suffered the collective punishment for the actions by a few.  It was the Assembly’s duty to find effective ways to stop the killing.  He was encouraged by the initiative put forward by the Presidents of Egypt and France, and other European Union members and Middle Eastern countries had also offered concrete proposals.  In closing, he called on the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to take decisive action to uphold their obligation, under article 1, to respect, and ensure respect for, the Convention in all circumstances.


ABELARDO MORENO ( Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said a resolution should be adopted today which contributed to the implementation of resolution 1860 (2009) and efforts to end Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza.  Strongly condemning Israel’s massive military aggression and disregard of resolution 1860, he demanded the implementation of the resolution, including its call for an immediate ceasefire leading to the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from Gaza.  Immediate measures were needed, including the opening of border crossings to ensure free access of humanitarian aid and facilitate the passage of persons.  He deeply regretted the loss of innocent lives, and expressed his deepest condolences to Palestinians, who mourned the loss of the some 1,000 people killed.


Calling for an immediate end to all military activities, and for all efforts to be exerted to compel Israel to cease its aggression, he demanded that Israel unconditionally comply with its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention related to the protection of civilian persons in the time of war.  He was seriously concerned at the difficulties of medical and rescue workers to evacuate and treat civilians, and condemned Israel’s targeting and killing of United Nations humanitarian personnel.  Intensified and coordinated international efforts were needed to promote the peace process, and ensure respect for international law.


Stressing that there was no military solution to the crisis, or to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole, he supported calls for the full implementation of the 12 January 2009 Human Rights Council resolution on the human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the speedy dispatch of the independent international fact-finding mission.  His delegation would consider all possible actions to guarantee the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for crimes against Gaza civilians.  The Assembly was duty-bound to respond to the international concern at the Gaza crisis.  Stressing the urgency of addressing the political, humanitarian and security impacts of the crisis, he specifically called for States to extend emergency assistance and pledge assistance for rebuilding infrastructure.  He reaffirmed the Movement’s commitment to a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole, and to Palestinians’ right to exercise self-determination.


MARTIN PALOUŠ ( Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union remained deeply concerned at the continuing violence, the plight of civilians in and around Gaza and the suffering and anguish of all civilians in the region.  It was profoundly disturbed by the loss of civilian life at the United Nations school in Jabaliya that resulted from Israeli military action and was deeply concerned that humanitarian convoys had been fired upon.  The Union called for an immediate cessation of military actions on both sides, stressing that there must be an unconditional halt to rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel and an end to Israeli military action.  The cessation of fighting should allow a lasting and normal opening of all border crossings, as provided for in the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. 


He said the Union fully supported the international efforts to find an immediate solution to the crisis in conformity with Security Council resolution 1860 (2008) and had put forward its proposals to that end on 30 December 2008.  It welcomed the initiative of Presidents Mubarak and Sarkozy.  The Union reiterated the need to step up the peace process, as there was no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in Gaza or elsewhere.  The solution must be based on the Annapolis process and in accordance with the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, in particular land for peace, relevant Council resolutions and the Quartet’s Road Map.  It must lead towards the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State existing side by side with Israel in peace and security.


Fully aware of the responsibility of the international community, especially the Quartet, the Union also reiterated the importance of the Arab partners’ “sustained, broad and constructive” commitment, he said.  In that respect, work must be carried out, notably on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative.  The Union also encouraged the inter-Palestinian reconciliation behind President Mahmoud Abbas, commended the mediation efforts of Egypt and the Arab League and resolutely supported the peace negotiations with Israel.  The objective of the emergency session should be to support the implementation of Council resolution 1860, as well as the ongoing diplomatic efforts on the ground, in particular the Egyptian initiative.


MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, said the current crisis had serious consequences for the Middle East, international peace and stability in the region.   Israel had not respected the relevant resolutions of the Council, including the most recent, resolution 1860, and had instead let loose its military might by air, land and sea.   Israel had used indiscriminate force against the people of Gaza and had shown disregard for all international law and customs, which had left 1,000 dead and 5,000 injured.   Israel had bombed United Nations schools and now the Israeli military machine had targeted journalists, humanitarian and relief workers and impeded their ability to provide assistance to the Palestinian people.


The Arab side had authorized a ministerial committee to work at the United Nations and marshal support and help draft resolution 1860, which called for an immediate ceasefire, he said.  Everyone thought resolution 1860 would be a way out of the crisis, except for Israel.  It was time for the United Nations to uphold its responsibility under the Charter, to speak with one voice and to demand that Israel stop its aggression.   Morocco supported the initiative of the Secretary-General.  The international community had to take immediate steps to end the cycle of violence and compel Israel to stop its attacks.


He called on the Assembly to adopt a clear, constructive resolution that called for the immediate ceasefire and reinforced the substance of resolution 1860.  He also supported the immediate implementation of the Human Rights Council’s call for a fact-finding mission.


Israel continued to disregard the international community’s demands and its actions escalated hatred and made peace more difficult to achieve.  The Arab party had proven its serious desire for peace and a just and comprehensive solution to the situation.  Israel had to implement resolution 1860 and all other relevant resolutions, he said.


HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) said that no justification could support the wanton killing of innocent civilians.  It was beyond common decency that any Government would condone such a massacre, but “by our own inaction […] we are in fact doing just that”.  He was disappointed that one week after adoption of resolution 1860 by the Council, the fighting continued.  The Council was incapable of discharging its responsibility to stop those atrocities.  The urgency of the matter, and the unfortunate slow action by certain quarters, had compelled Malaysia to urge the reconvening of the emergency special session.  His country demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities and a ceasefire.  It demanded an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip, consistent with Council resolution 242 (1967).  The United Nations should establish an international monitoring/peacekeeping force to ensure the enforcement of the ceasefire and stabilization of the situation.


He said his country also demanded that Israel immediately lift its siege on Gaza and to ensure a safe and unimpeded flow of international humanitarian assistance.  Malaysia would contribute $1 million in humanitarian assistance and had activated the Palestinian Humanitarian Trust Fund in order to garner public donations.  Israel’s action over the last three weeks was reminiscent of similar atrocities, committed onto a group of people in recent history.  The world’s reaction to those atrocities was resolute then, and it should be resolute now.  Israel must be made accountable for its crime against the Palestinian people in Gaza and for its attacks on United Nations facilities.  The path to peace was clear:  Israel must end its occupation of Palestine.


He said the emergency special session should adopt a resolution that would lead to, among other things, a ceasefire (enforced by an international monitoring force) and immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza; the ending of the blockade; establishment of a tribunal to investigate and prosecute those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity; and sanctions for non-compliance.


JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France), speaking in his capacity as President of the Security Council and fully supporting the statement on behalf of the European Union, said there could be no victor from the current situation, and civilians were suffering.  The current violence was impacting an already worrying humanitarian situation.  Daily reports from humanitarian agencies were alarming, and he condemned this morning’s shelling of a hospital.  The fighting should stop, in order to allow access for humanitarian assistance.  The global community could not ignore the possibility of a regional extension of the crisis, and efforts were being made to mobilize.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited the region on 5 January to meet with various parties.


For its part, the Security Council adopted resolution 1860, which called for an immediate and lasting ceasefire, and the total withdrawal of Israeli forces.  It also held consultations with the Secretary-General on Tuesday prior to his visit to the Middle East and, this morning, held consultations on the most recent developments.  Under the French Presidency, the Council was still seized of the issue and would make a clear statement.  Calling for respecting Article 12 of the United Nations Charter, and immediate implementation of resolution 1860, he said France’s absolute priority was to end the suffering for all civilians.


He hoped the emergency session would fully support implementation of resolution 1860, notably through completion of diplomatic efforts and the French-Egyptian plan.  Once the basis for a lasting ceasefire was established, States must re-launch the Annapolis peace process.  In closing, he recalled resolution 1850, which said that peace should be based on the land for peace principle and the Arab Peace Initiative.


FRANCIS K. BUTAGIRA ( Uganda), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), called today’s meeting a clear reflection of the seriousness with which the global community took the tragic situation in Gaza.  The grave and worsening humanitarian crisis there was unacceptable, particularly as civilians bore the brunt of the attacks.  Recalling remarks by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs that some 100,000 people had been displaced and the psychological impacts had been particularly felt by children, he condemned Israeli actions in Gaza.  The effects of current hostilities further destabilized the situation in the occupied territories and the wider Middle East.


He said the resolution adopted by the Security Council on Israeli aggression, while it had come late and did not address fundamental issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian question, represented a step in the right direction.  He urged its immediate and full implementation, an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and an opening of crossings.  For its part, OIC had undertaken an emergency humanitarian assistance campaign and, on 14 January, sent an aid convoy carrying 300 tons of medicine, medical equipment and food supplies.  He called on all States to provide further support.  The time had come for the violence to stop and for an immediate resumption of the peace process.


MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said the international community’s total rejection of the violence in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli actions must be made loud and clear through all appropriate avenues within the United Nations system.  After some delay, the Security Council had taken action by adopting resolution 1860.  One week later, the carnage continued.  Earlier today, the UNRWA compound was shelled.  “ Indonesia is outraged by the horrific consequences of Israeli actions,” he said.  “We must not allow silence on the part of the General Assembly to be wrongly construed as being acquiescence to the on-going carnage caused by Israel.”  The perpetrators of the heinous crimes, in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, must be held accountable. 


He said, combined with the incessant military attacks, the illegal blockade and closures of the Gaza Strip constituted nothing less than the collective punishment of an entire people.  Innocent civilians were trapped, unable to flee the fighting or find refuge.  Israel must immediately and permanently lift the closure and ensure the unhindered and safe access of humanitarian aid and other essential supplies to the population in the Gaza Strip.  Israel had continued its callous practice of targeting humanitarian convoys.  “The shelling of the UNRWA compound illustrates that, despite repeated assurances, Israel has continued to display utter disregard of humanitarian principles.” 


He said it was incumbent on the Assembly to respond collectively and with urgency to bring the fighting to an end and to realize a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East based on all relevant Council resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference and the principle of land for peace.


AJAI MALHOTRA ( India) said the crisis in West Asia impacted the stability of the region and the world and India deeply regretted the loss of all civilian lives.  The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, had said India strongly condemned the incidents and hoped that the international community would get together and help restore peace in the region as soon as possible.


He noted the ongoing deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and said that nearly three fourths of the Gaza population was without electricity and 750,000 people were without access to food.  India was providing assistance of $1 million for use by UNRWA to provide shelters, cash assistance and essential household items to the affected families in Gaza.   India also announced a grant of $10 million as budgetary support for the Palestinian National Authority, besides an additional $10 million in project assistance.


He reaffirmed the collective message that all actions that ran counter to the commitments of the parties under the Road Map had to cease.   India supported a political solution, based on the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative.   India wanted to see the creation of an environment for the resumption of dialogue under the peace process and sought an immediate end to the suffering of the people of Gaza.


GABRIELA SHALEV ( Israel) stressed that her remarks were without prejudice to the principle that convening today’s special emergency session violated the United Nations Charter.  Indeed, the session took place as the Security Council was actively addressing the situation in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip, having just last week adopted resolution 1860.  As she spoke, the Secretary-General was in the region with the Council’s endorsement.  The Charter stated that, while the Council was exercising its function, the General Assembly shall not take any recommendation with regard to a dispute situation.  What was the real purpose of convening the special session?


She said General Assembly resolution 377 stated that emergency special sessions were designed to act only when the Security Council failed to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  As that was not the case, today’s General Assembly meeting defied its own rules.  Among other things, the subject under discussion was far removed from the reason that had given rise to the emergency special session.  It was thus “deceitful” and contrary to both the rules of procedure and honest common sense.


The Assembly was trampling on the very principles it committed itself to upholding, she said.  It had reiterated its strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, but where was its condemnation of Hamas attacks; of Iran, which made many of the missiles smuggled into Gaza during the period of the so-called calm; or of Syria, which hosted Hamas’ headquarters?  The Assembly had adopted a resolution on safety and security of United Nations personnel, but where was its condemnation of Hamas for deliberately endangering civilians by hiding missiles in hospitals, and firing them around United Nations schools?  It had adopted a text on religious tolerance, but where was its deep concern at the “toxic” religious incitement cultivated among children, or rejection of the Hamas covenant which stated that no war took place anywhere without the Jews behind the scenes having a hand in it?


She said today’s meeting was being watched by Hamas, which saw there were dark corners in which disdain for human values would not deny it of value; by Al-Qaida, which would learn that hiding behind civilians during conflict could be effective; by Iran, which would understand that its “war of terror by proxy” could bring results; and by Israelis, who lived under threat of Hamas rockets.  Moreover, people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Somalia, Iran, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere cried out for their plight to be heard and suffering redressed.  From today’s meeting, they could only draw despair.


MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) called for calm and reason during this debate and said he supported the statements of Morocco, on behalf of the Arab Group; Cuba, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement; and Uganda, on behalf of the Group of Islamic States.  He said the session came during a dangerous time, as the Gaza Strip witnessed a continuation of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people despite the adoption of Council resolution 1860.


The resumption of the special session came together with Egypt’s persistent endeavours to implement the initiative launched by President Hosni Mubarak, in parallel with the Council’s resolution, which carried out Egypt’s historical responsibility towards the peace process.  The Egyptian initiative aimed to seriously and swiftly address the humanitarian situation through a ceasefire; called on Israeli and Palestinian parties to meet immediately; and called on the Palestinian Authority and all Palestinian factions to respond with efforts to bring about Palestinian reconciliation, under the auspices of Egypt.


Even though the Council resolution realized only a minimum of Arab demands, Egypt welcomed its adoption as an important step leading to the balanced implementation of numerous mutual commitments, including the immediate ceasefire on both sides.  Egypt, today, renewed its full support for Council resolution 1860 and called for its implementation, and urged efforts to immediately halt the violence and military activities and permanently re-open the crossing points according to the 2005 Agreement, as well as immediate access for all humanitarian and economic assistance.


Arab and international frustration was mounting everyday, he said.  He called on the Assembly to convey a clear message in support of resolution 1860 and requested that the Assembly President present a draft resolution that reflected the support of all Member States for the Council resolution.  He trusted that the Assembly would shoulder its responsibility and adopt the draft resolution by consensus.


BAKI İLKIN ( Turkey) deeply regretted the ongoing human tragedy in Gaza, and reiterated his urgent appeal to stop the bloodshed.  He invited parties to implement resolution 1860 without further delay, which called for an “immediate ceasefire” and a “full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”.  There was no time to lose:  the situation had become a humanitarian catastrophe.  Unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance, as stated in the resolution, was a must, and the blockade should be lifted in all its aspects.


At the same time, Israel had a right to live in security, and Turkey “by no means” condoned the continued rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel.  However, he called on Israel to reconsider its policies, which could not deliver the sense of security it sought.  Excessive use of force and punitive measures were not the way towards permanent peace.


If not stopped immediately, the Gaza tragedy would continue to fuel the flames of hatred in the region, a dangerous situation, he said.  With that in mind, Turkey continued its efforts at all levels to help bring an end to the conflict, and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative was now in the region, involved in “intense shuttle diplomacy”.  He hoped efforts made by various players would promptly yield results, as Turkey continued its massive humanitarian relief efforts.  He also underlined the importance of national reconciliation among Palestinians, which was crucial for the prospect of permanent peace and stability in the region.  Resolution 1860 offered an opportunity to end hostilities in Gaza, and it must be seized.


ABDULLAH M. ALSAIDI ( Yemen) said he spoke as a tragedy occurred to the Palestinian people in Gaza and he supported the statements made on behalf of the Arab Group, the Group of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement.  The unarmed Palestinian population had suffered for 20 days from a savage attack by Israel and there were more than 1,000 dead and thousands of injured people.


He questioned how the occupying Power could justify its actions through the stance of self-defence.   Israel had a monopoly on the air space and control of the land, sea and air borders, and Gaza was still under occupation.  He questioned how a country that occupied another could say its actions were made in self-defence.  Its actions ran counter to international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, he said.


Yemen was convinced that an end to the conflict would only occur when the international community assumed its responsibility and put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusaleum.  It was a barbaric aggression.  An immediate and unconditional ceasefire had to be implemented and all crossing points had to be opened.  The Israeli aggression did not respect international law and principles.


SIN SON HO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) strongly condemned the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip as a wanton violation of international law, saying that, even now, Israeli armed forces were mercilessly killing Palestinian civilians and destroying houses at random.  It could not be overlooked that such atrocities were backed by the United States.  Indeed, while the entire world was calling for an immediate end to all military actions, the United States alone had taken sides with Israel and justified its act of obstructing peace.


Palestinians had a legitimate right to recover their Occupied Territory and build an independent sovereign State -- a just cause for them to fight to achieve their goal, he asserted.  His Government fully supported Palestinians’ struggle to expel Israeli aggressors from their Territory and restore their right to self-determination.   Israel should immediately stop its military actions and withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.


Responding to the Israeli representatives comments, he said today’s meeting was to address her country’s aggression; not one in which to question other countries, including his own.  He categorically rejected her statement.


BASO SANGQU (South Africa), aligned his country with the statement of Cuba made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the violent situation in Gaza and southern Israel made it imperative for the Assembly to collectively and publicly voice its condemnation of the attacks and demand that both sides immediately cease their military attacks.  He urged all parties to fully respect resolution 1860 and immediately implement its provisions.  If there was no compliance with the resolution, he expected the Council to take appropriate measures within the Charter to implement its decisions.


The Council’s immediate next step was to strengthen the resolution by demanding a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and easing the blockade by the opening of borders.  The South African Government had expressed its view that the Israeli air strikes were violating international humanitarian law and human rights law and were an excessive and disproportionate use of force by Israel.   South Africa was particularly concerned with the devastating humanitarian consequences of the occupation, the siege and continuing attacks into Gaza.  The situation had been made worse by the escalating military attacks that had killed United Nations humanitarian workers.  He joined the Secretary-General in calling for full and unhindered humanitarian access to let aid workers work in safety.


South Africa called on the United Nations to stand together in condemning the escalation of violence.  The Assembly should demand an immediate ceasefire, the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and the immediate opening of the Gaza borders to end the inhumane siege, he said.


MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said the highest priority should be accorded to the illegitimate and unlawful occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  The catastrophic situation, with its ongoing tragedy in the Gaza Strip, had resulted from the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Israeli regime.  Those in the Gaza Strip, the world’s largest “concentration camp”, were being forced to pay for democratically electing their Government.  The massacre in Gaza was a matter of extreme concern for Iran; the area’s population was under a crippling blockade, deprived of the most basic supplies, and suffering under criminal acts, such as the bombardment of United Nations-declared safe buildings.


Iran supported the resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council, which called for, among others, condemnation of Israel’s military operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and an immediate end to Israel’s military attacks, he said.   Iran also strongly supported the Council’s decision to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  As the Security Council had been unable to stop such criminal acts, the General Assembly should adopt a resolution calling for an immediate end to the Israeli attacks, withdrawal from Gaza, a lifting of the blockade, opening of the crossings and urgent provision of humanitarian assistance.


Deliberate attacks against civilians and use of prohibited weapons violated international humanitarian law and constituted war crimes, he said, adding that the widespread use of force, aimed at an entire Gaza population, amounted to “genocide”.  He urged the United Nations to defend Palestinians from collective punishment that constituted a crime against humanity, as characterized by the Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur in the Palestinian Territory.  The Security Council and the International Criminal Court should exercise their responsibility to bring criminals to justice, while the Assembly should put in place a mechanism, under Article 22 of the Charter, to investigate crimes against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.


LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam), associating himself with the statement of Cuba made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the international community was deeply concerned by the escalation of violence and the losses and suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of the Israeli bombings and military operations.  He urged all parties concerned to respond to the repeated appeals of the international community and implement Council resolution 1860 without delay.


Viet Nam recognized the important role of United Nations agencies, including UNRWA, and other humanitarian organizations in extending emergency assistance to the Palestinian people in Gaza.  He urged the concerned parties to provide the safe and unhindered operation of humanitarian personnel on the ground.  In solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza, Viet Nam had provided emergency assistance to be transmitted to UNRWA for distribution.


Violence would not help the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the internationally recognized goal of a two-State solution.  He called on all concerned parties to exercise the utmost restraint, renounce all actions that might cause further bloodshed, and immediately return to peaceful negotiations to resolve remaining disputes.   Viet Nam reaffirmed its steadfast support for the right of the Palestinian people to exercise self-determination and sovereignty in their independent State of Palestine, living side-by-side with Israel within secure and recognized borders.  That would be based on the Road Map, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Annapolis joint understanding and relevant United Nations resolutions.


TAWFEEQ AHMED ALMANSOOR (Bahrain), supporting the statements on behalf of the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the sophisticated Israeli machine used forms of weapons of mass destruction, including white phosphorous.  It had fired rockets from the air, land and sea, turning the Gaza Strip into total rubble.  The global community had followed daily contacts of the Arab States in efforts to end Israeli aggression.  Despite the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 1860, which called for an immediate and durable ceasefire, the text had been totally rejected by Israel.  True to its previous practice in disrespecting Council resolutions, Israel placed itself above the rule of law.  The Human Rights Council, in its 12 January resolution, decided to establish a fact-finding mission to investigate violations in the Gaza Strip.


Since the start of the crisis, Bahrain had joined international efforts to end Israeli aggression, as seen in the King’s 8 January address in which he expressed deep concern for the Palestinian martyrs and called for an end to the human tragedy in Gaza.  Recalling the UNRWA school bombing, he said Bahrain today had sent a convoy of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians.  In the past years, Arab States had expended commendable efforts to find a solution, yet Israel had “outmanoeuvred” all peaceful initiatives.  When the region approached peace, Israel created another crisis.  The Arab Peace Initiative was an addition to efforts by the international Quartet.  If the United Nations was to maintain its credibility, it must require Israel’s compliance with Security Council resolutions.


BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) said the Assembly was meeting as people grieved following the renewed Israeli act of aggression against the Palestinian people of Gaza.  Armed to the teeth, the Israelis continued their attack for the twentieth day.  The Council was unable to enforce its resolutions, even though the Charter was clear with respect to the enforceability of a resolution.  The Council failed to move to end the Israeli aggression, which had used an advanced military war machine against the women and children of Gaza.  The weak resolution pleaded with Israel to end its military operation and Israel failed to implement it.  The Council was unable to hold the Israeli leaders accountable for failing to adhere.


Syria was pleading with the Assembly to address the Council’s failure, which had failed to implement all its resolutions with regard to the Middle East.  Its measures were confined to the narrow interests of some powerful States that put Israel above international law.  Its actions ran counter to the ethics of the Charter.


He criticized the Council for taking the deaths of more than 1,000 Palestinians lightly.  The lack of medical supplies would lead to more deaths, as the Israelis would not let supplies enter Gaza.   Israel had deliberately struck a school run by UNWRA, yet not one Israeli leader had been held accountable for their crimes.  It had repeatedly struck UNWRA headquarters over the years.


The Council’s failure to shoulder its responsibility meant that the Assembly had to act under its mandate to preserve international peace and security.   Israel was committing its own Holocaust against the Palestinian people, and he criticized the country for claiming it was a democratic State.


The Assembly had to hold the Council accountable for its failure and lack of transparency in addressing an international crisis, he said.  Its selectivity verged on racial discrimination.  Israeli leaders had to be punished for their war crimes.  He noted that the Human Rights Council had held four special sessions to address the behaviour of the Israeli terrorists and adopted its own resolution for a fact-finding mission.  The Assembly had to preserve the credibility of the international community, after the Council failed to shoulder its responsibility.


MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said the unprecedented nature of the crisis in Gaza and the failure of the parties to the conflict to comply with resolution 1860 made today’s session necessary.  At last week’s Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East, she expressed her Government’s views on the current crisis in Gaza and southern Israel, and had yesterday called for full and immediate implementation of resolution 1860.  Today, Brazil was deeply disturbed to learn of the Israeli attack on the United Nations compound, the third attack on a United Nations facility, and she joined the Secretary-General in expressing outrage.  The cessation of hostilities was the only answer to the horrific crisis.


Commending work done by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the “most trying of circumstances”, she was encouraged by the fact that United Nations humanitarian aid could be resumed, after Israeli assurances were considered credible.   Brazil’s Foreign Minister, having just concluded a visit to the region, left ever more convinced that an immediate ceasefire was imperative.  The global community could not allow resolution 1860 to go unheeded, while innocent civilians were being killed.  The United Nations credibility was at risk.  The Assembly must demand an immediate ceasefire in clear and unconditional terms.  It was imperative to inaugurate a cycle of dialogue, diplomacy and peace.


NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), noting that Israeli forces had killed over 1,000 Palestinians, including 350 infants and children, said those horrifying figures highlighted the seriousness of the situation in the Gaza Strip.  Families had been buried alive under the rubble of their collapsed homes, and people in Gaza lived in constant fear.  Israeli forces continued their onslaught on civilian targets with the use of prohibited substances, including white phosphorus, which had caused deep burns and death among Palestinian victims.  Such behaviour flagrantly violated international humanitarian law and international human rights law.  Moreover, Israel had ignored resolution 1860, and the resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council at its ninth special session.


Photos taken in Gaza captured the human tragedy that reflected the unimaginable reality today, he said, and he wondered where the United Nations legal mechanisms were that related to children and women.  Every massacre constituted a war crime.  In that context, he welcomed the Human Rights Council’s 12 January decision, which called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Special Rapporteurs to submit reports on Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians in Gaza during the current aggression.


Recalling the Qatari Emir’s 14 January address, in which he called for holding Israel accountable before war crimes tribunals, he said he had also had announced a $250 million contribution towards a yet-to-be-created fund for Gaza’s reconstruction.  He regretted that some had turned a blind eye to Israel’s war crimes in the Gaza Strip, while they called for the implementation of international humanitarian law.  He had attended today’s forum to appeal for immediate international action to end the Israeli crimes in the Gaza Strip.  He would support a resolution that bound Israel to implement United Nations resolutions, starting with resolution 1860.


DIEGO LIMERES (Argentina), recalling that his Government had urged the Council to exercise its duty to impose an unconditional ceasefire for Gaza, said resolution 1860 called for such measures, but, regrettably, it had not yet been fulfilled.  As such, he once again urged immediate compliance with that text, particularly for an immediate and durable ceasefire that would lead to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.  In light of paragraph 4 of that text, Argentina stated it would send 10 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza, which would include medicine, food and blankets.  Today, the first of several deliveries would leave his country to be held in Ramallah, until its ultimate arrival in the Gaza Strip.


Highlighting the attacks today on a hospital, a media building and an UNRWA facility, he urged the full respect for human rights, and compliance with international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.  In addition to the ceasefire, humanitarian corridors should be opened.  Non-compliance with the ceasefire had worsened the Gaza situation, he said, urging the adoption of measures to ensure that aid reached civilians in Gaza, to avert a more serious humanitarian crisis that could affect 1.5 million Palestinians.


MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said the weight of the international community would ensure that Israel listened to reason.  Expressing deep indignation at the barbarism in Gaza and Israel’s impunity, he condemned such aggression in the strongest way, and rejected the idea that disproportionate aggression could constitute an act of legitimate self-defence, as understood by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.   Palestinian territory in Gaza was the subject of an illegal human blockade, which had led the United Nations to determine that no human rights had been respected.


It was high time for States to examine how to end Israeli impunity, he said.  General Assembly resolution 273/3 (1949), which admitted Israel into the United Nations, set out that Israel was a peaceful State that accepted the obligations under the Charter.  Today, could we say that such a situation existed?  The answer was clear:   Israel practiced State terrorism.  Beyond its rejection of Charter obligations, it had violated international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention and all international human rights instruments.   Algeria welcomed the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights position on establishing an independent inquiry into violations by Israel.


The United Nations should face up to the situation in Gaza in a unified manner between the General Assembly and the Security Council, he said.  Resolution 1860 had not reached the international community’s expectations for an immediate ceasefire.   Algeria encouraged the General Assembly President to submit a draft resolution focusing on demand for an unconditional ceasefire; and the immediate re-establishment of unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance.


SHABBIR AHMAD CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), aligning himself with the statements made by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement, strongly condemned the Israeli attacks in Gaza that were entering their fourth week and said Bangladesh was appalled by the scale of devastation and the deaths of innocent Palestinians.  The killings of innocent Palestinian civilians were totally unacceptable and the economic costs of the damage were in the billions.


The international community could not tolerate the unabated violation of international humanitarian and human rights law by the Israeli occupying forces.  Disturbed to learn that the United Nations compound was not safe from the occupying forces, he condemned the Israeli Government’s heinous actions.  He said Israel had to comply with resolution 1860, and the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, had to take the necessary measures to ensure full and effective implementation of the resolution.   Bangladesh reiterated its long-standing position that the continued occupation of Palestine by Israel was the root cause of violence, unrest and instability in the region.  The creation of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital was the only sustainable solution to the lasting conflict.


ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan), recalling historic events in which the occupying Power had “assassinated” a United Nations Special Envoy, he said that same Power today was violating all resolutions.  History was repeating itself, and what was being witnessed in Gaza today harkened back to the apartheid regime in South Africa.   Israel was an aggressor against Lebanon and continued to occupy the Golan Heights.  It was justifying itself by claiming it was responding in self-defence to what could be equated to stone throwing by children.


He said the General Assembly must forcefully demand an end to the massacre of Palestinians, and the campaign against women, children and old people.  He also urged lifting the blockade against humanitarian assistance.  Those who spoke of “genocide” and impunity must discuss what they would do to address the crimes of the Israeli aggressor in Gaza.  Furthermore, the Assembly must demand the end of Israel’s occupation and urge the creation of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.  In closing, he said he was proud of the support shown to Palestinians, as they awaited liberty and independence.


AHMED ABDULRAHMAN AL-JARMAN (United Arab Emirates), aligning himself with the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, condemned the barbaric aggression of Israel.  That aggression had used excessive force to bomb the houses of civilians, caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people and wounded more than 5,000 people, and displaced tens of thousands of others.   Israel had also delayed the delivery of medical assistance and created a humanitarian catastrophe that threatened international peace and security.  He was concerned with the people’s human suffering and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people, adding that the United Arab Emirates would use every effort to end the tragedy.  He called on the international community and the Assembly to preserve international peace and protect Palestinian civilians.


The United Arab Emirates also called on the international community to intensify its efforts to compel Israel to comply with resolution 1860, allow humanitarian relief into Gaza and force Israel to live up to international law.


He welcomed the resolution of the Human Rights Council to send a fact-finding mission to the area and he urged international organizations to pressure Israel to resume peace talks.  The specialized agencies of the United Nations should continue their efforts to address the political, economic and security repercussions of the crisis.  The United Arab Emirates had assumed its humanitarian responsibilities.  He hoped that current international and regional efforts would put an end to the tragic situation and lead to a resumption of peace talks.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record