On Sunday, members of the UN Security Council called for immediate, unified action to end the new fighting between Israel and the Palestinians. It was the third time in just a few days that the Security Council had joined forces with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Hamas to call for an immediate ceasefire and start negotiations. At the end of the more than three-hour video link debate, 14 of the 15 states in the UN Security Council were ready to vote in favour of the declaration presented by China, Norway and Tunisia. The USA, of course, does not. The fascists and peace?
The debate – attended by numerous foreign ministers - was broadcast live on the UN television channel. China, which chairs the UN Security Council in May, was represented by Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin spoke on behalf of Russia. The Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia had sent their foreign ministers. Norway and Ireland were represented by foreign ministers from Europe.
China criticised the US for having twice blocked a joint Security Council statement against Israel’s war against Gaza. “The Security Council has the first responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the world,” said the Chinese statement:
“Unfortunately, the Security Council has not yet been able to speak with one voice because a country is preventing this.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the fighting could escalate into an uncontrollable war. Norwegian diplomat Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace Process, described the difficult situation. At the beginning of the debate, however, were the statements of the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
The Palestinians speak
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said he lacked the words to describe the horror that children and families in the Gaza Strip are currently experiencing. 15 Members of a family were wiped out in one blow in an Israeli attack, the youngest child was one year old. “Imagine if the world around you breaks and you cannot protect your children,” he said, addressing the UN ambassadors and foreign ministers. Israel carries out colonial policies and commits crimes against humanity and “Israel knows what it is doing.”
The question for the Palestinians is why Israel has the right to self-defense, while the Palestinians, when defending themselves, are called terrorists. And what will the international community, the UN Security Council, do to protect the Palestinians? “Will sanctions be imposed on Israel? Will there be military intervention? Will relations be put on hold and an arms embargo imposed on Israel?“Israel appeals to the world to put itself in its place and say,“put yourself in our shoes.” But Israel does not wear shoes, Israel is a colonial power and wears boots: “Israel is an armed thief who enters our homes, steals from us and justifies this by saying that it must secure itself,” says al-Maliki. “This security does not apply to us? Why do they not even put themselves in our position?“There is no safe place for the Palestinians, they are disenfranchised and dispossessed and driven out all over the world. All states that had experienced colonialism and apartheid would support the Palestinians. “Jerusalem is not for sale, our roots are deep, our history is old, our heritage is in every stone of this city,” said al-Maliki. “War and peace proceed from Jerusalem, from Sheikh Jarrah. On the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, Israel is still trying to expel us.”
Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan captured the image of a 16-year-old girl killed in a Hamas rocket attack at her father’s home. “She was an Arab citizen of Israel, studied biology and chemistry and dreamed of a better world,” said the ambassador. The ideology of Hamas is comparable to that of the” Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”, ISIS. It is their “wicked plan” to destroy Israel, to take power in the West Bank and to destroy the administration of (Mahmud) Abbas. The attack by Hamas had nothing to do with the situation in Israel or Jerusalem, but was an internal Palestinian political maneuver.
In view of the rockets fired at Jerusalem, “our capital,” they had no choice but to stop Hamas’s “terrorist machine” “once and for all.” Israel must defend its citizens. Hamas had hidden its weapons everywhere among the civilian population. In the high-rise building where international media had their offices, Hamas ‘intelligence headquarters were located, Hamas’ tunnel system was crisscrossing the city, running under residential buildings and playgrounds. Hamas must be held accountable and Israel will do so. We thank the states that, like the United States and others, have recognized Israel’s “right to self-defense.”
The Security Council has two options, concluded the Israeli UN ambassador. It could “establish a false, immoral equivalence between the actions of a democracy that protects life and a terrorist organization that glorifies death” by calling on all sides to show restraint. If the Security Council so decides, it has failed. Then Hamas would get away with its “insidious strategy,” which would strengthen Hamas, weaken the Palestinian administration and undermine the chances for dialogue. The cycle of violence is being fuelled and the chances for peace are being weakened.
But the Security Council also had the opportunity to unanimously condemn Hamas and its attacks. The Security Council could support” the heroic efforts of Israel “to defend itself and"destroy Hamas' terrorist infrastructure.” Then Hamas could no longer turn Palestinian children into human shields and hide its “terrorist machine” in high-rise buildings, hospitals, schools. “They can support Israel by demanding the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip,” Erdan suggested. Then we could provide a government in Gaza that “invests in the welfare of the people and not in the destruction of the Israeli state.”
Israel has already made its choice, the ambassador concluded: “We will take all necessary steps to defend our people. Now it’s your turn. The world is watching.”
Unity in the UN security Council, with one exception,
All speakers made clear the urgency of an immediate ceasefire. The responsibility of Israel as an occupying power was stressed, it bears responsibility for the status quo of Jerusalem and the Holy Places. The continued construction of settlements, forced evictions such as in Sheikh Jarrah and Silvan or the expulsion of the Palestinians and the destruction of their homes were unacceptable. The violence against civilians, women and children and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is unacceptable, Israel must open its borders so that humanitarian aid, oil and gasoline can reach hospitals and the electricity and water supply can be secured.
The current conflict is the result of the “illegitimate behavior of Israel,” said Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. There will be no peace in the region with settlement construction, not with the confiscation of land, not with the destruction of Palestinian homes or with the expulsion of Palestinians. “The occupation is the source of the conflict,” says Safadi. Jordan was committed to the two-state solution, and the 1967 borders for the Palestinian state had to be recognized by Israel. According to Safadi, the offer of the Arab states, which call themselves “land for peace”, still applies today. Israel has done everything to undermine this initiative.
In the end, China summed up that there was broad agreement and that the violence in the Middle East must end immediately. China, Norway and Tunisia would draft a declaration, which I hope everyone would agree to. Behind the scenes, 14 states agreed to the declaration, and it was later learned from diplomatic circles. The US refused, putting itself behind Israel, which had already made its decision to continue the war against the Gaza Strip.
During the debate in the UN Security Council, the weapons were not silent in the Middle East. Rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israeli fighter jets, warships and artillery continued to bomb. 90 Targets have been attacked in the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours, an Israeli Defense Forces spokesman said with pride on Sunday. One of the targets on Sunday morning were residential buildings on Al Wahda Street in the center of Gaza. 27 People were killed there, eight were children.
On that day alone, Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip reported more than 40 deaths. Since the fighting began on May 10, 209 people have died, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, including 58 children, 34 women and 15 elderly people. At least 1235 people were injured. In view of the violent attacks by Israeli forces, the figures are already outdated when they are published, said the chairman of a Christian aid organization.
Ten people have died on the Israeli side since the beginning of the military escalation on 10 May 2021. Among them was an Indian woman who had worked as a nanny in Ashkelon. A woman was fatally injured when she tried to escape into a bunker. Unlike the population in the Gaza Strip, Israel not only has a missile defense system that can intercept more than 90 percent of the rockets from the Gaza Strip, there are also sirens that warn the population, and there are shelters.
New were fierce clashes within Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank. Jewish nationalists attacked Arab neighbors in numerous cities, Palestinian youths attacked Jewish settlers. Israeli border police intervened and dozens were arrested.
On Sunday, a man drove his car at high speed into a checkpoint set up by Israeli police and customs forces outside Sheik Jarrah, part of East Jerusalem. Seven police were injured, and the driver of the car, a resident of Jerusalem of Palestinian origin, was shot.
On Thursday, Israeli state television showed how an Arab man in Tel Aviv had been pulled out of his car by masked men in casual clothes, beaten up and then lynched. The state broadcaster Kan broadcast the murder live. Not only Israel, the whole world could watch.