Urging Israeli-Palestinian Parties to Renew Ceasefire Efforts, Secretary-General Tells Security Council Conflict’s Root Causes Must Be Addressed

22 July 2014
SC/11485

Urging Israeli-Palestinian Parties to Renew Ceasefire Efforts, Secretary-General Tells Security Council Conflict’s Root Causes Must Be Addressed

22 July 2014
Security Council
SC/11485
 
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

7222nd Meeting (AM)

 

Urging Israeli-Palestinian Parties to Renew Ceasefire Efforts, Secretary-General

 

Tells Security Council Conflict’s Root Causes Must Be Addressed

 

 

Speakers Also Debate Pressing Concerns in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen

 

Although a ceasefire was critical in ending the escalating violence, if the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were not addressed, the problem would never be solved, but merely delayed for yet another time, the Secretary-General told the Security Council today during an open debate on the Middle East.

 

Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General, speaking via video link on his third day of an ongoing mission throughout the Middle East, urged the parties to seize the opportunity to renew a ceasefire and take concrete action towards the full implementation of resolution 1860 (2009), including the opening of crossings and bringing Gaza back under one legitimate Palestinian Government.

 

Noting the “fruitful” and intensive discussions he had with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Nabil Elaraby, he informed the Council that “it is my hope and belief that these talks will lead to results and an end to the fighting in the very near future”.

 

However, while strongly condemning the indiscriminate rocket fire launched by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel, he voiced alarm by Israel’s heavy response and the corresponding high civilian death toll in Gaza.  Too many civilians, including children, were paying the highest price for the latest escalation.  An end to the conflict must be negotiated through a viable two-State solution.  Israelis, but also Palestinians, needed to feel a sense of security.  Palestinians, but also Israelis, needed to see a horizon of hope, he stressed, adding “let us do our part, for all the people of this region.”

 

“We are not numbers.  We are human beings,” the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine told the Council.  Despite all the regional and international efforts, hundreds more Palestinian civilians had been killed, thousands injured and tens of thousands displaced by Israeli forces since he last appeared before the Security Council on 18 July.  The international community had failed its promise to humanity, he said, questioning what the Security Council was doing to uphold its commitment to protect civilians in armed conflict and uphold the law and the Charter.  Without decisive action, the Council’s resolutions and statements rang “hollow”.  Rather, that body should “live up to the demands of the Charter” and ensure a ceasefire that was sustainable and addressed core issues, including the need to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza.  The Palestinian people would continue to strive for a peaceful political solution to the conflict, “for which there is no military solution”.

 

“Hamas is determined to wage war,” said the representative of Israel.  His country had agreed three times to accept a ceasefire, he added, pointing out that Egypt’s Foreign Minister had noted each of those ceasefires could have saved many Palestinian lives.  Meanwhile, Hamas had refused ceasefires and had provided no bomb shelters for its civilians, instead telling them to stay in areas that Israel warned would be attacked.  In the past months alone, Israel had been attacked on four fronts, with rockets fired from Lebanon, Syria and Sinai and Hamas launching an all-out assault from Gaza.  Israeli forces had also discovered a massive web of concrete-reinforced tunnels in Gaza which dozens of heavily armed terrorists had used to attack targets inside Israel.  Those passageways had been constructed with international aid and materials meant for building homes.  Israel was on the frontline of fighting Islamist terrorism and its fight today would determine how the world lived tomorrow.

 

Almost sixty delegations participated in the open debate, with the representative of the United Kingdom calling the situation in Gaza “grimly familiar”.  Speakers around the room called for both parties to return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement which had been brokered by Egypt.  However, that country’s representative said those negotiations had failed because Israel refused to abide by the rules of the game and had continued building settlements and refusing to release Palestinian prisoners.  Because Egypt’s initiative may be the only opportunity available to stop the fighting, he urged those who had not accepted the agreement to reconsider their positions.

 

While the representative of Argentina urged that Council members visit Gaza to see the situation on the ground, Canada’s delegate said the indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel were terrorist acts.  Israel was fulfilling its obligation to defend its people.  France’s representative pointed out that in this third great flare-up, neither Hamas nor Israel could win.  It was time to conclude that Israelis and Palestinians could not achieve peace by themselves; the international community must change the conditions dominated by fear and hatred.

 

Delegations also brought attention to the crises in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq, with several noting the continuation of the political process in Yemen, despite threats from terrorists.  Speakers called for the full implementation of resolution 2165 (2014), which addressed humanitarian aid to Syria, with some stressing respect for the sovereignty of Syria, while others emphasized the need for an international response if the resolution were not heeded.

 

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg addressed the Council today.

 

Also speaking were the representatives of Jordan, United States, Republic of Korea, China, Russian Federation, Nigeria, Australia, Chile, Chad, Lithuania, Rwanda, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco, Malaysia, Japan, Brazil, Algeria, Namibia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Turkey, Bolivia, India, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Norway, Qatar, Syria, South Africa, Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Iceland, Tunisia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Cuba, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Kuwait (on behalf of the Arab Group), Viet Nam, Peru, Jamaica, and Guatemala.

 

Representatives of the European Union Delegation and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also spoke.

 

The meeting began at 11:15 a.m. and ended at 6:28 p.m.

 

Briefing

 

BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, speaking via video link on his third day of an ongoing mission throughout the Middle East region, said that he had intensive and fruitful discussions with leadership from all countries, including a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Qatar, as well as with United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Nabil Elaraby in Cairo.  Because of the highly sensitive circumstances, he could not publicly reveal details of those meetings.  “Suffice to say that it is my hope and belief that these talks will lead to results and an end to the fighting in the very near future,” he stated.

 

Acknowledging the news of the fighting in Shejaiya and its enormous human toll, he called for an end to the violence and for parties to “start the dialogue”.  He urged that they tackle the root causes.  A ceasefire was essential, but without addressing the deeper issues, the problem would never be solved, merely delayed for yet another time.  Turning to the initiative put forward by Egypt based on the November 2012 understanding, he said that although it had the support of President Abbas and the Arab League, Hamas had yet to respond positively.  He called on those with influence to “urge constructive action”.

 

He also said that he had discussed Israel’s legitimate security concerns with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon.  Strongly condemning the indiscriminate rocket fire launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel, he voiced alarm by Israel’s heavy response and the corresponding high civilian death toll.  Too many civilians, including many children, were paying the highest price for the latest escalation.  He called for all parties to rally behind a collective international effort to end the fighting.  Following the briefing, he would get the latest update from the United Nations team in Gaza.  He also called on the international community to respond to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) emergency flash appeal for $115 million to address the most pressing humanitarian needs in Gaza.

 

The international community had to assume responsibility for what was the collective failure to advance a political solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he stressed, adding that “we cannot return to the status quo ante — a concern which Palestinians and Israelis share.”  Core elements of resolution 1860 (2009) remained unimplemented, including the end to weapons smuggling, the full opening of the crossings and bringing Gaza back under one legitimate Palestinian Government that accepts and adheres to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) commitments.  Sustainable peace and security would be achieved only through a negotiated political settlement, including on socioeconomic and governance issues that could permanently stabilize Gaza.  He pointed out that tens of thousands of employees hired after 2007 and working in Gaza were not getting paid, while over 60,000 employees continued to receive salaries from Ramallah without performing essential government functions in Gaza.

 

The parties, he said, must seize the opportunity to not only renew a ceasefire but heed the Council’s call to return to negotiations in order to find an end to the conflict through a viable two-State solution.  Israelis, but also Palestinians, needed to feel a sense of security.  Palestinians, but also Israelis, needed to see a horizon of hope.  “Let us do our part, for all the people of this region,” he stated.

 

Statements

 

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that despite all the regional and international efforts, hundreds more Palestinian civilians had been killed, thousands injured and tens of thousands displaced by Israeli forces since he last appeared before the Security Council on 18 July.  Recounting the extensive damage to more than 18,000 other homes and the more than 100,000 people being sheltered in UNRWA schools, he appealed for efforts to address the immense humanitarian needs of the Palestinian civilians in Gaza, including through donor support to emergency appeals by UNRWA.  The casualties were mounting; on 20 July alone, 95 Palestinians had been killed, including 17 children, 14 women and 4 elderly persons.  The death toll now stood at more than 600 Palestinians and more than 3,500 people had been injured, he said, holding up pictures of those killed, including children.

 

“We are not numbers.  We are human beings,” he told the Council.  Recounting the names of families and children killed by Israeli occupying forces over the past days, he said the international community had failed its commitment to protect civilians in armed conflict, failed to enforce the rule of law and “failed its promise to humanity”.  He questioned what the Security Council was doing to uphold its commitment to protect civilians in armed conflict and uphold the law and the Charter.  Without decisive action, the Council’s resolutions and statements rang “hollow”.  It was no coincidence that the latest aggression had been launched amid increased international pressure on Israel in the peace process.  The Security Council should “live up to the demands of the Charter”, as well as the expectations of the international community.  It must contribute to the urgent efforts to secure a ceasefire, ensuring it be sustainable, preventing recurrence of such crises and addressing core issues, including the need to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza.  The Palestinian people would continue to strive for a peaceful political solution to the conflict, “for which there is no military solution”.

 

DAVID YITSHAK ROET (Israel) said that in the current struggle Israel was fighting to rid Gaza of the military infrastructure of Hamas, one of many radical Islamist terrorist groups which, together, were the primary threat to global peace and security.  Israel was on the frontline of fighting that Islamist terrorism.  Hamas had terrorized his country and devastated Palestinians for well over a decade, sending suicide bombers into cafes, armed terrorists into homes and schools and more than 12,000 rockets towards towns and cities.  His country did not want the war and had agreed three times to accept a ceasefire, along with a pause to allow humanitarian aid asked for by the Red Cross, and each time Hamas had sent more rockets.  “Hamas is determined to wage war” — that was the clear message, he said, adding that Egypt’s Foreign Minister had noted each of those ceasefires could have saved many Palestinian lives.

 

He said that Israel had been attacked on four fronts in the past months alone, with rockets fired from Lebanon, Syria and Sinai and Hamas launching an all-out assault from Gaza, prepared for by the building of a massive web of concrete-reinforced tunnels.  Since troops entered Gaza, 23 passageways had been uncovered, along with 66 different entry points.  That showed how Hamas was using the international aid and materials that were supposed to build houses.  Through the tunnels, Hamas had sent dozens of heavily armed terrorists to attack targets inside Israel.  Meanwhile, as Hamas refused ceasefires and provided no bomb shelters for its civilians, instead telling them to stay in areas that Israel had warned would be attacked, it was clear that the Hamas strategy was to bring about as many Palestinian deaths as possible to sway world public opinion.  Israel was doing its utmost to avoid civilian casualties and deeply regretted the loss of each innocent life.  Hamas, the dangers of which Israel had been warning for many years along with Hizbullah and other terrorist groups targeting the country, was hiding behind innocent civilians it was using as human shields.  Israel’s fight against terror today would determine how the world lives tomorrow, he concluded, calling on the international community to stand together against such terror and for freedom.

 

JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, associating himself with the European Union, said that Gaza was an open air prison that was morphing into a cemetery.  Israel’s right to defend itself was not disputed, he said, condemning the rocket firing into Israel from Gaza, but that did not excuse their military actions that caused civilian casualties.  Of those killed, 30 per cent had been children, with more children being killed than Palestinian combatants.  The priority today was to halt the suffering of Palestinian civilians, and there needed to be a humanitarian ceasefire so that those injured could be cared for.  Concerning Syria, resolution 2139 (2014) had changed nothing.  The adoption of resolution 2165 (2014) last week would be a turning point, with aid being delivered without the Government’s approval.  He also noted the deadly attacks increasing in Lebanon resulting from the Syrian conflict.  He condemned the executions of religious minorities in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other armed groups. 

 

MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH MAHMOUD HMOUD (Jordan) said the least the Council could provide to the people of Gaza would be to uphold its responsibilities and work towards a cessation of the Israeli’s aggression.  The “carnage” by the Israel Defense Forces and the unjustified, excessive force in no measure had to do with self-defence, but a deliberate targeting of civil and collective punishment by Israel against the Palestinian people.  Military force could not bring peace and security to the region.  The international community should work rapidly to provide humanitarian aid.  Jordan had sent staff to hospitals and medical aid to Gaza and was receiving the wounded.  He called for the international community to swiftly respond to appeals to support agencies, particularly UNRWA, and voiced supported for the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire and for a political solution towards a two-State solution.

 

SAMANTHA POWER (United States) said her country was working intensively to secure a ceasefire while recognizing that underlying causes had to be dealt with, including bringing about a two-State solution.  At the same time, she recognized Israel’s right to defend itself, describing the rocket fire and other attempts to kill Israeli civilians.  She also described the suffering of Palestinian civilians, expressing deep concern over the rising death toll and relating her Government’s response to the humanitarian needs in Gaza.  She stressed that all parties must comply with humanitarian law in avoiding targeting or storing weapons in civilian–populated sites and respecting humanitarian ceasefires. 

 

Turning to Syria, she welcomed last week’s Council resolution on humanitarian aid as one way to counter the Assad regime’s “starvation strategy”.  She called “obscene” the targeting of civilians with barrel bombs during Ramadan, and urged the regime to comply with all its obligations under humanitarian law.

 

OH JOON (Republic of Korea) expressed concern over the regional threats posed by the Middle East conflict, pointing to rockets fired at Israel from Lebanon and elsewhere.  He also expressed concern over deaths and the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, calling the situation unsustainable and urging an immediate ceasefire.  He also expressed concern over the unprecedented death and destruction in Syria, calling for the implementation of the resolution on humanitarian aid.  He looked forward to the revival of peace negotiations.  He strongly condemned war crimes by the so-called Islamic State that had swept over large parts of Iraq and Syria.

 

GÉRARD ARAUD (France), associating himself with the European Union Delegation, said that after 15 days of open warfare between Israel and Hamas, there could be no more delay in putting in place a ceasefire, following which the underlying conditions must be addressed.  In this third great flare-up, neither Hamas nor Israel could win.  Israel had a right to protect itself, but the “staggering” loss of civilian life represented an excessive use of force.  Following a ceasefire, it was important to lift the blockade and work with the Palestinian Authority towards a political solution.  It was also time to conclude that Israelis and Palestinians could not achieve peace by themselves; the international community must help to change the context that now was dominated by fear and hatred.  

 

Concerning Syria, he noted the continued suffering of civilians and called for implementation of the resolution on humanitarian aid and a renewed effort for a political solution.  He also condemned the acts of the ISIL terrorist group and called for inclusive political dialogue in Iraq.

 

LIU JIEYI (China) said that Israel’s military operation had expanded in scope.  He opposed the deaths of civilians and the targeting of residential areas and hospitals, as well as the firing of rockets into Israel.  The violence must end and there needed to be full cooperation in good faith towards achieving a ceasefire.  He called for the opening of crossings in Gaza to allow all humanitarian aid to get through.  The negative effects of the conflict were spilling over and damaging regional peace and security, and the Security Council and international community must take action.  He expressed support for Egypt’s role in brokering a ceasefire and noted that his country’s envoy was visiting the region to work towards that initiative and improve humanitarian relief to Palestine.  He hoped for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and Palestine and welcomed Security Council resolution 2165 (2014).  A political solution was the only way that conflict could be brought to an end and the international community needed to stay the course towards that end.

 

MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) supported Israel’s right to proportionate self-defence, but said military action in Shejaiya had exacted a “terrible human cost”.  He welcomed Egypt’s efforts towards a ceasefire, saying the United Kingdom would gave $3 million to UNRWA and $4 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  The situation in Gaza had become “grimly familiar”.  To address the cycle of violence, a ceasefire agreement had to address the underlying causes of the crisis.  He also described the “relentless brutality” of the Syrian regime, which had responded to the people’s legitimate demand for representation with violence, thereby promoting extremism.  Syria was now the number one destination for extremists and he hoped resolution 2165 (2014) would address that.  He expressed concern for the Christian community in Mosul, Iraq, stressing that ISIL’s attacks on people because of their faith or religion constituted crimes against humanity.

 

VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said the international community was shocked by the scale of recent violence.  Most Palestinian deaths were due to Israel’s disproportionate use of force and there needed to be a swift cessation to the suffering of peaceful people on both sides.  The Russian Federation was working with all parties towards peace and consultations were ongoing, he said, stressing that it be based on the November 2012 agreement.  He said the proposal by the President of the State of Palestine to make Palestine an international protectorate needed consideration and he was surprised that there had been no reference to such proposals in the statement of the representative of Jordan.  He condemned recent attacks by Islamist groups in Syria and said it was imperative to adopt his recent presidential statement on oil trade with terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, and added that the Al-Nusra Front had attacked United Nations peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.

 

U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria) said that Israel had the right to defend itself, but that its military actions were “needlessly excessive” and in violation of international law.  As well, Hamas firing rockets on residential areas was in violation of international law.  Leaders must intensify diplomatic efforts to facilitate a return to the November 2012 ceasefire.  The Secretary-General’s engagement was providing a “ray of hope”, she said, noting that Israel had accepted Egypt’s ceasefire initiative.  There was hope that Hamas too would accept those terms.  Turning to Yemen, she said that although terrorists continued to threaten a stable Government, the political process had remained on course.  In regards to Lebanon, it was important that political actors agree on who would take the “mantle of the presidency”, and she urged leaders to walk together in the interest of their country.  On Syria, while welcoming resolution 2165 (2014), she said that a military solution was unattainable.  The Geneva Communiqué was the best way forward.  The Middle East today must retreat from a dangerous precipice.  The time was now for a united, collective action for a durable peace.

 

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) said that the Council had with its recent resolution on Syria spoken with a single voice as it grappled with the effects of the crisis.  Turning to Gaza, she said that civilians were again paying the price of Israel and Hamas’ activity, pointing out the pattern of calm and conflict repeated so much in that region.  She called for a strict respect by all parties of humanitarian law and the protection of civilians.  Israel must put an end to its military action and both Hamas and the Islamic jihad must end indiscriminate rocket launches towards Israel.  History and geography had assigned Egypt with the leading role towards a ceasefire, but other actors also had influence in the matter.  The crisis should be a renewed call to address the root causes, with a guaranteed flow of humanitarian aid and the cessation of weapons smuggling, among others.  What was the point of the Security Council if maintaining international peace and security had become an ad hoc matter, she asked.  It risked being an institution devoid of meaning, without having impact on crises.  The Council should not only demand a ceasefire and an end to the violation of human rights and international law, but should visit Gaza to see the situation on the ground.

 

PHILIPPA JANE KING (Australia) expressed concern over the major escalation in hostilities between Israel and militant groups in Gaza in recent days.  Everything possible should be done to prevent civilian casualties and limit the suffering of innocent people.  Australia strongly condemned Hamas’ and other militant’s continued rocket attacks on Israel, while supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.  Australia welcomed the Council’s adoption last week of resolution 2165 (2014) on the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria and was deeply concerned that large parts of Syria and Iraq were ungoverned and controlled by the ISIL terrorist organization.

 

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) said that despite insistent calls for the cessation of violence in Gaza, the parties had decided to escalate instead of establishing a truce.  Referring to the discovery of rockets in a school and an attack on a hospital in Deir Al-Bala, he said that attacks on civilians violated international humanitarian law and could constitute war crimes.  He pledged $150,000 to help tend to civilians and called for the opening of all border crossings.  The Security Council must address the conflict at its roots, and the idea of putting Palestine under the international protection of the United Nations was a good one.  There was broad consensus on the path to peace and it included ending construction and expansion of illegal settlements.  Welcoming Lebanon’s condemnation of groups launching rockets at Israel, he recalled the binding nature of Security Council resolution 2165 (2014) on Syria, and expressed concern over the situation in Iraq.

 

MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad) said violence in Gaza had reached an “unacceptable apex” and expressed his concern and consternation over the latest spike.  Since 8 July, Israel’s full-scale assault had impacted heavily upon civilians.  Infrastructure, housing, hospitals, and schools had been destroyed and he condemned the attack on Shejaiya and any attacks on civilians because they violated fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and constituted war crimes.  The international community’s failure to end violence constituted an “approving silence”, and a right to self-defence could not justify the level of civilian casualties seen.  Self-defence was defined with respect to threats to the lives of innocent civilians.  The tragedy in Gaza was an “insult to human conscience” and the Security Council needed to reason with Israel to ensure they ended their attacks.  The entire region was fragile, he added, pointing to Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, and he called for the international community’s attention to imminent threats that loomed over peace and security.

 

DAINIUS BAUBLYS (Lithuania), associating himself with the European Union, called on the international community, regional powers, and Israeli and Palestinian leadership to “respond to the cry of civilians for peace”.  Supporting the ongoing diplomatic efforts for a complete ceasefire, he voiced hope that a genuine dialogue would happen between Palestine and Israel, as a two-State solution remained the only way to achieve peace and stability.  On Syria, he said that if there was non-compliance of resolutions 2139 (2014) and 2165 (2014) by any Syrian party the Council had the responsibility to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.  That crisis had become a regional crisis, with ISIL terrorists “fueling the worst kind of extremism”.  The central Iraqi Government’s response to religious and ethnic groups had been one of the reasons for the emergence of ISIL.  Iraqis needed to pursue an inclusive national dialogue.  Turning to Lebanon, he said that failure to implement resolution 1701 (2006) could further political, security and humanitarian consequences for that country.  The increased presence of its armed forces would contribute to regional peace and security, and he commended the Lebanese Government for keeping its doors open to refugees.

 

EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA (Rwanda), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, strongly condemned the indiscriminate rocket firing into Israel, and called for an immediate end to those attacks.  Israel had a right to defend itself, but he was deeply disturbed by the civilian death toll, particularly of the large number of children killed.  Parties to the conflict must return to the November 2012 ceasefire to be brokered by Egypt.  The Council also needed to establish a viable monitoring mission there.  On Syria, he said its conflict was destroying its people.  It was the responsibility of Syrian parties, supported by countries with influence, to end the war.  The humanitarian situation had continued to deteriorate and he welcomed 2165 (2014) with hopes it would enable humanitarian actors to reach 2 million Syrians in hard-to-reach areas.  However, the Council should be prepared to take action if there was non-compliance.  It was the Council and the international community’s collective responsibility to support all efforts towards establishing a durable and lasting peace in the Middle East.

 

The representative of Jordan returned to the floor to reassure the representative of the Russian Federation that he would discuss proposals to end the conflict with the League of Arab States.  The goals should be effective action and he intended to confer with Security Council members and circulate a draft document.

 

CAROLINE ZIADE (Lebanon) said that while Palestinians were readying themselves for prayers and breaking their fast, Israeli jetfighters and frigates “broke the peacefulness and pounded the Gaza Strip”, killing scores of people in the last 15 days.  The territory was being devastated by the ongoing occupation and illegal settlements.  Jerusalem was being deprived of its diversity, and West Bank civilians were subjected to systematic “security search”, massive arrests, illegal demolition of homes and collective punishment.  Those atrocities should “summon the political will in all of you” to immediately end the violence.  His Government stood firm against any attempt to destabilize the situation in the south of Lebanon, rejecting the rockets launched by “outlaw” individuals and marginal groups.  The Lebanese armed forces arrested the perpetrators and, along with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, continued to work relentlessly to maintain stability. 

 

She insisted that Israel immediately end its occupation of northern Ghajjar, Shebaa farms and Kfarshouba hills, as well as its almost daily violation of Lebanon’s airspace.  The up to 100,000 refugees in Lebanon constituted a “refugee emergency”, requiring direct assistance to the Government agencies; it was alarming that only 29 per cent of the response plan for Syrian refugees in Lebanon had been funded.  Serious efforts should be made to widen the humanitarian space to accommodate Syrians in safe zones in that country or in camps along the border.

 

MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL (Egypt) said the negotiations had failed because Israel, the occupying force, refused to abide by the rules of the game, including by continuing to build settlements and refusing to release Palestinian prisoners.  Those were the symptoms of a chronic and deadly disease called “occupation” that would continue to lead to similar tragedies as long as it was not eradicated.  The occupation would remain the principle cause of instability for both Israelis and Palestinians.  When the occupation stopped, the violence would stop.  When there were two States living side-by-side, peace would be achieved.  How many more lives would need to be lost before Israel recognized that occupation was not sustainable, he asked. 

 

Israel, he said, claimed to feel threatened in spite of its tremendous military might.  Egypt commended the recent warnings of possible repercussion against entities involved in settlement activities, as such moves would send a strong message that occupation would come at a price.  The killing of four boys on the beach in Gaza raised serious questions as to logic of the Israeli army.  Egypt had spared no efforts to stop the hostilities and bring the Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table.  Egypt’s initiative may be the only opportunity available to stop the fighting.  He called on all those that did not accept the initiative to reconsider their positions, while supporting the request for international protection for the Palestinian people, as endorsed by the Arab League.

 

ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, described the statement from the Israeli Permanent Representative as full of unfounded claims and flimsy pretext.  It was particularly dramatic language that painted Israel as the aggrieved party.  “Do not be fooled,” he warned.  Israel portrayed itself as a victim that was defending itself against missile attacks, despite the fact that it had a defence system that had so far destroyed most of the rockets launched against it.  Israel was not defending itself, but rather was committing widespread attacks and war crimes.  The number of Israeli victims in the current crisis did not match the number of those killed in traffic accidents in Israel in one year, or even one month.  Israel was using tactics of “genocide” against the Palestinians.  No other Government in the world practiced similar crimes; including the occupation of the land of another State, the repression of people, laying siege to human beings and, indeed, starving them.

 

Israel, he said, claimed to have accepted a ceasefire, although it was actually the party that had withdrawn from peace negotiations and reneged on previous commitments by refusing to release the last batch of Palestinian detainees.  It had persisted in building occupation settlements and desecrated Islamic and Christian sites, day in and day out.  It was Israel that besieged the Palestinian people by land, sea and air.  He questioned if Council members had heard calls from Israeli leaders calling for “ethnic cleansing” in Gaza.  The fact was that the starting point for the conflict was the very presence of settlers on occupied Palestinian land and the unjust siege against Gaza.  The end point could only be reached through an end to the occupation, the lifting of the siege on Gaza and the protection of the Palestinian people.

 

MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan), describing severe civilian suffering in Gaza, said that the world could not believe the fighting there could not be stopped by the Security Council.  The asymmetry of the fight could not be more clear, but military might would not solve the problem.  A political solution must be achieved.  The relentless bloodshed must be stopped and peace talks initiated.  No ceasefire proposal should be spurned and the two-State solution should be pursued in earnest.  He expressed his country’s solidarity with the Palestinians and its condemnation of Israeli aggression, and called for a resolution demanding the immediate cessation of Israeli attacks and end to the blockade of Gaza.

 

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said that Israel’s unjustified escalation of the situation in Gaza had violated all international laws.  The Security Council should put an end to that aggression and protect the Palestinians.  Describing suffering in Gaza, he said his Government was providing humanitarian and medical aid and had denounced Israel’s actions, which would only lead to further bloodshed and hatred.  He supported all efforts towards an immediate ceasefire and urged the international community to shoulder its responsibility and provide all needed assistance and support to the Palestinians.  The only solution was resumption of negotiations towards a two-State solution.

 

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia) strongly condemned Israel’s military actions in Gaza and demanded an immediate ceasefire, describing devastation and suffering.  He deplored the loss of innocent life.  He rejected the argument that civilians were being used as human shields and called the Israeli attacks war crimes.  All parties should commit themselves to bringing about a ceasefire.  He went on to condemn Israel’s human rights record in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and called on the Council and human rights treaty bodies to take immediate measures to address injustices over the past six decades, as well as current atrocities.

 

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union Delegation, condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel and called on Hamas to renounce violence.  All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm and stop using civilians as human shields.  Israel had a legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks, but its response must be proportionate.  Particularly appalling was the human cost of the Israeli military operation in Shejaiya and the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation.  The tragic escalation of hostilities confirmed the unsustainable nature of the status quo.  The Union stood ready to contribute to a solution that met the legitimate security, economic and humanitarian needs of both Israelis and Palestinians.

 

Events in the wider region posed serious threats to the Union countries, he said, reiterating that international governmental entity’s fundamental commitment to Israel’s security in that context.  It also fully supported United States-led peace efforts, which must “not go to waste”.  Preservation of the two-State solution option was a priority, though developments on the ground made that prospect increasingly unattainable, requiring a fundamental policy change.  The Union also was concerned at the “terrible and deteriorating” situation in Syria.  That human catastrophe, which the Syrian regime had willingly accepted in its quest to consolidate its position, was now proliferating to Syria’s neighbours, most dramatically Iraq.

 

ABDOU SALAM DIALLO, Chairman, Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that body strongly condemned the excessive and disproportionate use of force during the Israeli onslaught in Gaza.  The casualty figures were appalling.  The Committee condemned indiscriminate rocket fire emanating from Gaza, which had resulted in two Israeli deaths and several injuries.  The disproportionate use of force, however, by a trained and well-equipped army and, for example, the shelling of a Gaza beach, was emblematic of the senseless violence that had annihilated entire families and destroyed hundreds of homes.  The situation took a dramatic turn for the worse with the ground invasion, he said, condemning Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilian infrastructure.  The Committee supported the request by the State of Palestine to Switzerland to convene a conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and it called on the international community to adopt action to stop all violation of international humanitarian law.

 

KAZUYOSHI UMEMOTO (Japan) said it was deplorable that despite the Egyptian proposal and Council’s demand for a ceasefire, the violence continued amid Palestinian militants’ refusal to accept those efforts.  Israeli and Palestinian civilians were facing a serious security threat, and Japan joined the Council and Secretary-General in calling for a de-escalation.  The international community “must speak with one voice” to urge maximum restraint by both sides.  Japan would play its part, he said, noting that the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs would continue his Middle East tour, travelling to Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Turkey.  Japan would also help to address the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.  However, even against the harsh backdrop, hope for a two-State solution should not be lost.  In that context, Japan would continue to assist Palestinian State-building efforts.  Regarding Syria, his country had contributed for humanitarian assistance and demanded that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, enable immediate and unhindered delivery of that assistance.

 

GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) said the international community must not continue to stand by while gross violations were committed against civilians, and he urged the Council to engage and fully discharge its responsibilities to actively steer the peace process.  “The commendable emphasis placed by the Security Council on the protection of civilians in other items of its agenda cannot be sidestepped when it comes to the responsibility to protect Palestinians,” he said.  Turning to the situations in Syria and Iraq, he recalled the Sixth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Summit held in Brazil.  The resulting Fortaleza Declaration called for national dialogue and reconciliation in Syria and for supporting the Iraqi people and Government in their efforts to overcome the crisis.  Brazil was also committed to Lebanon’s State institutions and the United Nations Interim Force there (UNIFIL), he said, noting Brazil’s leading of the Maritime Task Force.

 

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria) said what was taking place in Gaza was “shocking and appalling”.  He asked how anyone could justify the brutal shelling of densely populated areas.  The world watched in horror as playgrounds became graveyards.  He questioned if the international community was going to turn a blind eye.  The right to life was a basic human right and it was at stake right now in Gaza.  Urgent action was needed to put an end to the ordeal.  Gaza had been beleaguered for more than seven years where even basic human requirements, such as water, were rationed.  The Palestinian territory was under illegal, oppressive and brutal occupation, which was at the core of the issue.  Putting an end to the occupation through negotiations was the only way out.  The current aggression would only widen the gap between peace and security.  The world should not test when “late was too late”, he warned.

 

WILFRIED EMVULA (Namibia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, condemned the indiscriminate rocket fire emanating from Gaza, but contended that such attacks did not justify the disproportionate use of force and collective punishment of 1.7 million Palestinians.  It was cynical to equally apportion blame on both parties while one was the occupier that possessed unparalleled military might.  The occupying Power must be held accountable for the war crimes it had committed.  He called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to take immediate action in condemning the “genocide against the people of Palestine”.  Israel could not remain immune from the provisions of international humanitarian and human rights law.  The escalation of the crisis was the result of the continued failure of the Council to effectively address the conflict.

 

XAVIER LASSO MENDOZA (Ecuador) demanded an immediate suspension of Israeli attacks against Gaza, saying that self-defence did not mean trampling on international law.  The Security Council must act with much more boldness to shoulder its responsibilities and put an end to all of Israel’s illegal practices, from the occupation to settlements to the separation wall.  His country was waiting to see Palestine as a fully-fledged member of the United Nations.

 

MARIA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, urged the Council to condemn the systematic aggression against Gaza and the slaughter of more than 650 Palestinians.  In the face of “such genocide”, there was no justification for the Council to not meet its responsibilities, including by imposing an immediate ceasefire and making Israel responsible for the genocide.  The Council must fulfil its historical responsibility and not allow one of its members to continue to cover Israel’s impunity and blackmail.  It must also approve the admission of the State of Palestine to the Organization.  In closing, she reiterated her concern over developments in the Middle East overall and North Africa, highlighting imposed regime changes, terrorist funding, war-mongering policies over dialogue, and interference in the internal affairs of States.

 

HALIT ÇEVIK (Turkey) condemned the inhumane attacks against the people of Gaza.  Such acts were “unacceptable by any standard”.  Turkey was observing three days of mourning in solidarity with the Palestinian people.  The Israeli operation was a violation of international law and constituted a collective punishment, and it must halt its Gaza operations without delay.  The parties should engage immediately in negotiations towards a lasting ceasefire.  The world should give the strongest response to the human tragedy unfolding in the Gaza Strip, and the international community, particularly the Security Council, should assume its responsibility.  With the dire humanitarian situation worsening by the hour, it became increasingly difficult to provide the necessary response.  Establishing peace and security in the Middle East was possible only through settling the Palestinian question.  Turkey supported the inalienable rights of the State of Palestine to fully enjoy the privileges of statehood, including becoming a member of the United Nations.  He touched on the brutal oppression of the Syrian people, adding that uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian operations was key.

 

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) said that the tragedy of Palestine and the current suffering in Gaza belied the claim of equality of all in the United Nations.  Though a majority of countries wanted to act to end that tragedy, they were blocked by one nation, the United States.  Speaking of the suffering and loss of life in Gaza and listing Israeli actions which he described as illegal, he asked Palestinians for forgiveness on the part of the international community and called for an end to the aggression and occupation.

 

ASOKE KUMAR MUKERJI (India) called on both sides in Gaza to act with restraint, and expressed support for an immediate ceasefire, followed by political dialogue towards resolving all underlying problems as well as the resumption of negotiations on a two-State solution.  He reiterated the call for ending the Gaza blockade and settlement activities and taking other measures that would pave the way for a negotiated solution.

 

RI TONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said Israel’s ongoing invasion into Gaza had resulted in massive civilian killings, giving way to shock and outrage from the international community.  Israel should immediately cease fire.  The core issue of the Middle East was the question of Palestine, and the Israeli invasion was not justified and must not be tolerated.  It should stop indiscriminate civilian killings, as they were a violation of international law.  The Council, for its part, must protect international peace and security and not allow itself to serve as the political tool of one selfish country.  The question of Palestine had reached a critical stage and lack of its resolution was related to the behaviour of one country, the United States.

 

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said the horrible and indiscriminate attacks on Palestinian civilians had shocked the Indonesian people, particularly as those brutal attacks had taken place during Ramadan.  Shockingly, Israel had brushed off widespread condemnation.  Time and again, it slapped the face of the international community by deliberately and repeatedly violating international law.  Israeli military aggression in Gaza must cease immediately, for as long as the violence continued, the prospects of a just and lasting peace between Israel and its neighbours would remain on the distant horizon.  Only the establishment of an independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, could yield peace, he added.

 

TINE MØRCH SMITH (Norway) said a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization would have laid the ground for nurturing peace, rather than inciting hatred and devastating suffering for civilians.  The rocket attacks against Israel must stop; the country had a right to defend its citizens but also an obligation to respect humanitarian law.  That also applied to all combatant Palestinian groups.  Nevertheless, Israel, being the stronger party and operating in very densely populated areas, had a special responsibility.  She meanwhile took note of its acceptance of Egypt’s ceasefire initiative.  Norway had warned against launching the deadly ground operation, which also threatened international peace and security.  It now called for concerted international action by all friends of Israel and Palestine in support of the Egyptian initiative.  In closing, she said the situation in Syria remained serious, requiring a redoubling of Council efforts to agree on concerted action to restore calm.

 

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said that the horror and barbarous acts being carried out in Gaza were consistent with previous Israeli practices; such aggressions could not be termed self-defence, but State terrorism.  She urged the international community to help reach a just and lasting ceasefire that protected the rights of the Palestinian people.  On Syria, she said that the regime continued to attack its own civilians, with the situation continuing unabated owing to the international community’s paralysis.  She hoped that the appointment of a new envoy would help bring about a political settlement.

 

Mr. AHMAD (Syria) regretted that the international community was not putting an end to Israel’s latest aggression.  As in the past, that was because of the powerful nations that protected and excused it.  Condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza and elsewhere, he called on the Council to act to end them.  Stressing that the Golan was occupied Syrian territory, he said that Syrians there had been suffering for decades.  Israel’s support of terrorist groups in the Golan Heights had caused much havoc; it had brought them into its hospitals so that they could return to attack Syrians.  The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) reported that Israeli violations of agreements had increased tensions in the region.  He called on the Council to shoulder its responsibilities and ensure that Israel withdrew from all occupied Arab territories.  He finally rejected attempts by some delegations aimed at disregarding the issue on the agenda and speaking of the domestic issues in other countries.  He would not speak at this time of the assistance those countries provided for terrorist acts against his country.

 

DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa) said the ongoing Israeli invasion of Gaza was a collective indictment of the international community, the United Nations in general and the Security Council in particular.  History would indeed judge the United Nations and Security Council harshly for their failure to carry out their responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security.  The current crisis was meant to divert attention from the real issues facing the Palestinian people and their struggle for self-determination and freedom.  There must be an immediate ceasefire to stop the carnage, and parties should return to negotiations.  The status quo was not sustainable and would forever remain an indelible mark on the aims and objectives of the United Nations.

 

GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was particularly tragic that women and children constituted the majority of the victims of Israel’s indiscriminate, lethal military strikes.  Israeli bombardments, coupled with the ground invasion against densely populated civilian areas, caused widespread destruction to civilian properties and infrastructure.  All aspects of life were disrupted in Gaza, which was already suffering from the illegitimate and suffocating Israeli blockade.  The massive, unjustified Israeli military offensive as well as the constant violence, provocations and incitement against the Palestinian people had caused widespread trauma, fear and distress among an entire civilian population.

 

He stressed the urgent need to help the Palestinian people, including through the provision of emergency humanitarian assistance.  The Non-Aligned Movement called on the international community to provide emergency assistance to alleviate the enormous suffering caused by the regrettable deterioration and destabilization of the situation on the ground.  The occupying Power had defiantly persisted with its military aggression, despite efforts by regional and international actors and repeated calls for a ceasefire.  The atrocities committed by Israel in recent weeks only added to a long list of grave breaches perpetrated by that regime in the past six decades, largely due to a culture of impunity.

 

GRÉTA GUNNARSDÓTTIR (Iceland), welcoming the adoption of the Council’s resolution on humanitarian assistance in Syria, said that much more needed to be done by the Council to bring about a political solution there.  She reiterated condemnations of violations of international law there, in particular those of the Syrian Government, and called for referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court.  On Gaza, she condemned violations by both sides, which had created a situation that was “beyond tragic”. The core problem, however, was the Israeli occupation.  Following an urgently needed ceasefire, the Council must uphold its responsibility and bring about a two-State solution, starting by demanding respect for its own numerous resolutions on the conflict and international humanitarian law.

 

MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia) asked how the murder of unarmed civilians could be justified by a claim that it was to protect other civilians.  The situation in Gaza was just the latest of Israeli blood baths carried out with impunity.  The Council must take action.  He denounced the land operation and called for ending it as well as the blockade.  Increased humanitarian support must be given to Gaza, he urged, noting Tunisia’s offer of medical aid.  Israel’s colonial practices must be ended and Palestinians must have their State, as part of a just and lasting truce.

 

SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the international community was shaken by the escalation of violence perpetrated by the cruel actions of the Israeli military in Gaza.  Venezuela categorically condemned the violence by the occupying Power, which had led to the death of more than 500 innocent civilians, including children, women and the elderly.  Venezuela reiterated its solidarity with the people of Palestine and demanded that Israel put an end to its aggression and settlement construction and refrain from collective punishment.  He reiterated the need for a return to negotiations in order to achieve broad peace, whereby two States would live next to each other with safe and recognized borders.

 

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) said the legitimate right to self-defence did not justify the disproportionate use of force against another State and certainly would not justify its use against civilians.  Israel’s actions went against the spirit of the law, with the attacks on civilians a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.  He welcomed optimistically the Human Rights Council meeting to evaluate the situation of civilians in Gaza, while reiterating his country’s call for the immediate cessation of hostilities.  The Council should play a more central role, he said, voicing support for intensified efforts to achieve peace.

 

GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI (Canada) said the indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel were terrorist acts, for which there could be no justification.  There was no moral equivalent between Hamas, which was a terrorist organization, and the State of Israel, which was fulfilling its obligation to defend its people.  The Israeli military had demonstrated a commitment to minimize civilian casualties, while Hamas deliberately sought to put civilians, from both sides, in mortal danger.  There must be a complete cessation of the production and smuggling of weapons and materials in Gaza that enabled terrorist groups to acquire and produce rockets.  Canada also called on the United Nations to launch an immediate investigation into reports that rockets were found hidden in an UNRWA school.

 

ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh) said the graphic and disturbing pictures of hapless Palestinians exposed to Israel’s full-scale military onslaught were shocking to the human conscience.  Bangladesh did not deny Israel’s right to exist in peace, yet it strongly condemned its practice of routinely killing innocent Palestinians under various pretexts.  Those who so vociferously championed the right of Israel to self-defence often forgot that the Palestinians also had the right to live as normal human beings with equal dignity, freedom and security.  Bangladesh condemned violence and destruction and urged the Council to condemn the disproportionate use of force on an unarmed civilian population.  There would be no military solution to the conflict, he stressed, adding that the culture of impunity must end and the rule of law and justice must prevail.

 

OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba) said the major impediment to peace remained Israel’s systematic aggression against Palestine and the ensuing crimes against its people.  He condemned vigorously the renewed aggression, in which Israel used its military and technological superiority to pursue a policy of disproportionate force.  The international community must insist on a halt to the current escalation and return to equitable dialogue in order to ensure that the Palestinian people could exercise their inalienable rights.  Until the Security Council played its role in defending international peace and security, and adopted concrete measures to ensure that Israel ceased its arbitrary, expansionist policies, the latter would continue to act with impunity.  The General Assembly had made a historic decision in granting State non-member observer State status to Palestine, and he reiterated his support for full membership.

 

ROFINA TSINGO CHIKAVA (Zimbabwe), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said her country was “outraged” at the ongoing bombardments, coupled with the ground invasion against densely populated areas, causing wanton destruction to vital civilian infrastructure and disrupting all aspects of life in Gaza.  The actions of the Israel Defense Forces were unjustifiable under any pretext, and Zimbabwe called for their immediate halt.  Israel should respect international humanitarian law and ensure civilian protection.  Her country was gravely concerned about the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, urging emergency and relief aid.  It was unacceptable that the Israeli military violated Gaza’s territorial integrity and the human rights of the Gazans living there in the face of the Council’s failure to intervene decisively.

 

JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) said his country’s Prime Minister had moved a motion in the New Zealand Parliament expressing grave concern at the appalling and unacceptable civilian casualties in Gaza.  It was clear that the parties had fallen short of their obligations to protect civilians, he said, citing the indiscriminate firing into civilian populations.  Broader measures must be taken to alleviate the humanitarian situation on the ground.  New Zealand supported international efforts to obtain an immediate ceasefire, as continuation of the status quo was untenable.  The pattern of conflict had gone on too long, with the cost to innocent civilians too high.

 

YANERIT MORGAN (Mexico) supported the diplomatic efforts of Egypt and the United States to bring a close to the violence.  She condemned the rocket firing and military action in Gaza, which was impacting civilians, particularly women and children.  Both parties should refrain from hostile acts.  Humanitarian law, especially in regard to protection of civilians in armed conflict, should be respected.  The status quo was unacceptable and she called for full compliance to resolution 1860 (2009) that addressed the factors which had led to the current conflict.  Among others, that included the lifting of the embargo by Israel which was unsustainable, unacceptable and counter-productive.

 

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said the civilian population killed and injured in Gaza were all “victims of a collective punishment”.  The latest developments in the Gaza Strip violated norms of international human rights and humanitarian law and the conflict continued to threaten regional and international peace and security.  The rule of law had to be applied internationally and it was the duty of the Security Council to enforce it.  The Palestinian people deserved the right to self-determination, as well as full-fledged membership in the United Nations.  Whatever the reason Israel had for using force, it did not have the right to use force in the way it did and he called on the Security Council to end the systematic aggression.  The international community should shoulder its responsibilities to restore a serious prospect for a two-State solution.  He added that he was equally concerned about the increasing violence in Syria and its devastating humanitarian consequences.

 

ABDULAZIZ A. M. A. ALAJMI (Kuwait), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the circumstances in which the meeting took place were reminiscent of the tragic Israeli aggression in Gaza in 2009.  Innocent victims continued suffering with Israel guided by collective punishment and keenness to show military superiority against an unarmed population that had nothing.  Israel’s latest violations of international law went beyond its previous efforts, and the pinnacle was found in the murder seen in the Shejaiya neighbourhood.  That incident amounted to a war crime.  The international community should bear its Charter responsibilities.  The Council should push Israel to unconditionally end its latest attack; condemn Israel’s racist actions against Palestinians; work to lift the illegal blockade on Gaza and ensure humanitarian assistance could arrive; place the Palestinian territories under international protection; call for the release of all Palestinian prisoners; and assist in meeting the Palestinian people’s needs.

 

LE HOAI TRUNG (Viet Nam) said the recent hostilities, in addition to the great toll of human lives, had ruined years of social and economic gains.  Hopes of a perpetual peace in the region had once again been shattered.  Israel must exercise maximum restraint and take actions to protect civilians.  There needed be an immediate ceasefire and a resumption of negotiations between parties concerned.  The peaceful settlement of the conflict should be based on relevant Security Council resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Road Map.  Peace in the Middle East could only be achieved if Palestinians were guaranteed a better life and their fundamental rights, including the right to self-determination and establishment of an independent and sovereign State.  Both Palestinians and Israelis needed to feel a sense of security, and therefore the root causes must be addressed through peaceful negotiations.

 

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) called for the immediate cessation of military action in Gaza by the Israel Defense Forces and the rocket launching from Gaza into Israel.  Border crossings should be opened to allow the evacuation of civilians.  Echoing previous speakers, he said that the deep-seated causes needed to be grappled with, in order to put an end to the status quo and establish two States, living in peace and security.  It was essential to stop the “bloody” cycle of hostilities.  Both parties should seek solutions, respect international law, and abide by the relevant Security Council resolutions.

 

E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica) said the targeting of civilian populations constituted a blatant violation of international law.  He acknowledged Israel’s legitimate security concerns and right to self-defence.  However, he was “dismayed at the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force against an unarmed civilian population that has limited options for shelter.”  He condemned Hamas’ actions and called for an end to its rocket attacks.  The Security Council could not remain a bystander.  It had to broker an immediate cessation of hostilities, while efforts to get humanitarian assistance to those under siege continued.  He called for a response to the UNRWA appeal for $115 million to meet the urgent needs of those affected and he praised the generous contribution of $47 million by the United States.  There needed to be a negotiated settlement and a collective responsibility to address the region’s deep rooted problems.

 

GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) looked to the Middle East with grief, especially considering recent events in Gaza, Syria and Iraq and the sudden rise in activities of jihadists from ISIL.  Diplomacy and dialogue were the best way to a long-term solution in each conflict undermining the Middle East and offered the only route to a lasting stability.  As well as deploring the loss of life in Gaza, he said he believed that the losses would bring further escalation to the conflict.  Aware of the enormous challenges entailed within the pursuit of a political solution, both nationally and internationally, he insisted that it was the only way left.  Continuing with the present course would only deepen divisions and prevent the desired goal of peace.

 

Taking the floor for a second time, the representative of Israel among other comments said that Member States had throughout the day criticized his country, but that they deserved that criticism.  Those same nations were responsible for the conflict in the Middle East.  Remarking on Lebanon’s interest in Palestinian rights, he suggested that delegation looks at the refugee camps in her own country where the Palestinians were subjected to violence, extreme discrimination and economic and social oppression.  Noting that Iran and Saudi Arabia were fighting a proxy war in Syria, he observed that “here in the UN they couldn’t be closer”, with one responsible for Hizbullah and the other Al-Qaida.  He also emphasized that Egypt, while talking of human rights, had condemned 529 people to death in one day.  It was time to end the hypocrisy, he stated, reiterating that his country hadn’t wanted a war; that war was chosen as a last resort.

 

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.