Until Palestine Question Is Resolved, Arab-Israeli Conflict Will Continue, Be Passed Down to Next Generations, Speakers Warn General Assembly during Emergency Session
The Arab-Israeli conflict will know no end unless a solution to the Palestinian question is found, otherwise the war will be passed down from generation to generation, the General Assembly heard today, as several delegates also underscored Israel’s right to self-defence within the parameters of international law.
Before temporarily adjourning its tenth Emergency Special Session on illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Assembly heard from the remaining speakers on that topic.
On 12 December, the Assembly adopted a resolution titled “Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations” (document A/ES-10/L.27), demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and reiterating its insistence that parties to the conflict comply with international law, all hostages be released immediately and without conditions, and humanitarian access be ensured. (See Press Release GA/12572).
Lebanon’s representative said it has been 70 days since the beginning of the aggression against Gaza. And yet, “Israel has not achieved any of its stated goals of the war,” he added, emphasizing that the aim of prolonging the war is to prolong the life of the extremist Israeli Government and to destroy chances of a two-State solution. Those who believe in dialogue are deemed irrational. Those who seek to resolve crises are dubbed as traitors. Meanwhile, Israel has threatened to destroy Beirut and throw Lebanon back into the Stone Age. In the face of all these threats, however, Lebanon’s Government has exercised maximum restraint.
Israel has continued to bombard defenceless Lebanese civilians and target Lebanese Armed Forces, he added. All of this is done in flagrant violation of international law and Security Council resolutions. What happened on 7 October is a “wakeup call” for everyone that the situation is untenable, he stressed. The Palestinians must have their independent sovereign State. Israel must stop its aggression on Lebanon and immediately withdraw from all Lebanese territories.
The representative of Yemen said the world has morally failed to protect Palestinian civilians. It is shameful for the international community and in particular the Security Council to allow the continuation of genocide and crimes against humanity, mostly of women and children. The Security Council must adopt a binding resolution on a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire in Gaza.
Palestinians are human beings with dreams, hopes and aspirations, he went on to say, also asking: “How many lives must be lost before we do something?” Lasting and comprehensive peace is the only way to guarantee security and stability for all the peoples of the region and to protect them from a spiral of violence and war. The continuation of the Israeli occupation is a threat to Middle East stability and security. For every crime committed, Yemen will renew its rejection of selectivity in applying international legal and moral standards.
Norway’s delegate said that it is important to remember that the terrorist attack by Hamas started the current crisis. Norway has condemned the attack and been clear about Israel’s right to self-defence within international law. However, “Israel's current military operation in Gaza is not compatible with the protection of civilians required by international humanitarian law — it has gone too far,” she said, adding that a humanitarian ceasefire must be declared as soon as possible. She condemned all military acts that threaten regional stability, including attacks by the Houthis against civilian ships in the Red Sea. Israel must transfer clearance revenues to the Palestinian Authority in line with its obligations, as well as end movement restrictions and settler violence and other transgressions against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
“Terrorism is never justified,” Finland’s delegate stressed, adding that Helsinki recognizes Israel’s right to protect its civilian population from terrorist attacks. But military operations must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law. “All possible measures to spare civilian life must be taken,” she said, noting that almost 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children. The scale of human suffering and the extensive loss of life in Gaza is shocking, she said, adding that her country voted in favour of the 12 December Assembly resolution and has condemned the brutal Hamas attacks of 7 October in the strongest terms. Over 1,200 people lost their lives in the attack, most of them civilians. Hamas and other groups still hold hostages in Gaza, she went on to say, as she demanded their immediate and unconditional release.
The representative of Mexico, echoing concerns over the total collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, stressed that while the practice of using civilians as human shields by Hamas is deplorable, it does not give Israel carte blanche to defy international law. Reiterating the call for the release of all hostages, she added that once this crisis has been overcome, all international efforts must focus on implementing the two-State solution in accordance with all relevant UN resolutions.
France’s speaker, noting her delegation voted in favour of the 15 December resolution in the Security Council as well as the text sponsored by Egypt and adopted by the Assembly last week — reiterated the call for a new, immediate humanitarian truce leading to a ceasefire. Stating her country’s support of Israel’s right to self-defence and the country’s duty to do so in line with international humanitarian law, she reiterated strong condemnation of Hamas’ barbaric crimes committed on 7 October, particularly sexual violence. In that vein, France voted in favour of the United States amendment. Regrettably, the Egyptian resolution makes no reference to the diversion of humanitarian aid and the use of civilian structures for military purposes, which constitute violations of international humanitarian law. France also supported the Austrian amendment calling for the immediate, unconditional release of hostages, she added, questioning its absence in the first place.
The representative of Bangladesh, echoing the sentiment of several speakers, said that the Security Council has failed to fulfil its responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. Condemning the continuous bombardment and killing of Palestinians, he urged the Council to hold Israel accountable for its criminal activities. He also called on the International Criminal Court to conclude its investigation of the serious crimes being committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and rejected any blueprint to displace the Palestinian population from their homeland in Gaza.
The speaker from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea pointed to the United States’ vetoes in the Security Council, which blocked the international community’s unanimous demand for a ceasefire under the pretext of Israeli self-defence. He said that while Washington describes his country’s launch of a satellite as a threat to international peace and security, it supports Israel’s massacres as a “legitimate exercise of the right to self-defence”. The current situation in the Middle East is a result of the United States’ efforts to hamper the Council’s work, he decried, calling for an end to Israel’s crimes against humanity in Gaza. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will never tolerate Washington’s infringement of sovereignty, which only causes instability.
The delegate for the United Arab Emirates, aligning himself with the Arab Group and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, said Gaza is the world’s most dangerous place for children. Over 8,000 of them have been killed there since early October, and total death toll stands at 19,000 civilians. His country will continue to support the Palestinian people and has already announced the construction of three desalination plants near the border in Egypt to secure drinking water for 300,000 people every day. The first of these plants was inaugurated last week and a field hospital was established. He said that peace and stability in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the region as a whole are not just dependent a ceasefire; the occupation also must end.