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Participants in UN Security Council debates back Egypt’s peace initiative in Gaza Strip

July 23, 2014, 8:54 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
Some 60 nations took part in the debates; the bulk of them condemned Israel’s excessive actions
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (R) hold a meeting in Ramallah, West Bank, 22 July 2014

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (R) hold a meeting in Ramallah, West Bank, 22 July 2014


UNITED NATIONS, July 23. /ITAR-TASS/. The United Nations Security Council met on Tuesday for emergency debate over the Gaza crisis. Participants welcomed the Egypt-led bid to end fighting between Israel and Hamas militants.

Addressing the meeting from Ramallah in the West Bank, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he hoped ceasefire in the Gaza Strip would be reached soon. Ban, who is currently on a Middle East tour, preferred not to disclose the details of talks conducted between the United Nations, the League of Arab States, the United States and other regional and international players. He said the most promising was Egypt’s initiative based on truce agreements reached in November 2012. The peace plan, in his words, had been welcomed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the League of Arab States, but not by Hamas.

Some 60 nations took part in the debates. The bulk of them condemned Israel’s excessive actions. Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said that more than 600 people had been killed and some 3,500 had been injured in the Palestinian enclave as a result of Israel’s attacks. “The Security Council still has a responsibility to act to stop the slaughter of innocent men, women and children ... We are not numbers, we are human beings,” Mansour said, demonstrating photos of Palestinian civilian victims. “The council must play its rightful role and contribute to the urgent efforts to secure a ceasefire.”

In response, Israel’s Deputy UN Ambassador David Roet argued that his country had been forced to launch its operation in Gaza due to Islamic terrorism threats. “Israel has no interest in being in Gaza. We are fighting in Gaza, but we are not fighting the people of Gaza,” he said, adding that the goal of Israel's operation was “to eliminate the rockets, shut down the terror tunnels and demilitarize Gaza”. He said that peace in Palestine would be achieved only when peace was in Israel. “Israel is doing its utmost to avoid harming civilians because we believe that every innocent life lost is a tragedy. We deeply regret the losses, but the blame lies with Hamas for hiding behind civilians and using them as human shields,” he said. In his words, the Middle East was full of instability and intolerance, dictators, tyranny and terrorism, with Israel being the only liberal democratic nation in the entire Middle East.

Infographics Missile attack on Israel Missile attack on Israel
As of July 11, Palestinian radicals from the Gaza Strip have fired over 550 missiles at Israel. Infographics ITAR TASS
Russia’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said he was shocked by the “scale of human tragedy in the Gaza Strip.” Israel’s disproportional use of force, in his words, has killed hundreds and wounded thousands. He said such actions cannot be justified. He called for urgent measures to “put an end to suffering of Palestinians and the Israelis, to the destruction of civil infrastructure.” He noted that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ request to place Palestine under international protection deserved “serious attention.”

A delegate from Jordan, the only LAS member state represented in the UN Security Council, said later on Tuesday he would submit for the UN Security Council consideration a draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Hamas-dominated coastal enclave.

Iran, which spoke on behalf of the Non-aligned Movement, condemned Israel’s actions as punitive actions aimed against all civilian populations and violating international humanitarian laws.

Abdou Salam Diallo, Chairman of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, accused Israel of flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. He pledged his committee would support Palestine is it decides to sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to administer justice and call to answer those responsible for the attacks against civilians.

Western countries’ assessments somewhat stood out against the general background of the discussion. They tended to place responsibility for the hostilities in the Gaza Strip on Palestinian militants and expressed support to Israel’s offensive.

Thus, Great Britain’s Premanent Representative in the UN Ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, said his country supported Israel’s actions to protect itself from missile attacks. However he, too, called on the Israeli authorities to do their best to avoid civilian casualties, show restraint and put an end to the situation.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said it was Israel’s right to protect its citizens from missile attacks and attempts by militants to reach the country via tunnels. Nonetheless, she joined all others who supported Egypt’s peace initiative.

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