In Security Council Israeli and Palestinian diplomats trade accusations over violence

With tensions escalating in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian diplomats both deplored the killing of innocents while trading accusations on the causes of the violence during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which heard from over 30 participants but did not pronounce itself on the issue.Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer for Palestine, said the Security Council has a “clear responsibility” concerning the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and praised the convening of the debate, given the deteriorating situation on the ground. He voiced appreciation for those who convened the meeting and for those working on a draft presidential statement on the issue. “It is, however, unfortunate that the Security Council has failed to shoulder its responsibility over this very grave situation,” he said.He said Israel had intensified its military campaign against the Palestinian people, committing flagrant violations of international law “every single day, every hour, even at this very moment.” Israel was using excessive and indiscriminate force, he said, resulting in death and destruction. “Nevertheless, President Mahmoud Abbas continues to condemn all acts of violence against civilians, including suicide bombings. After today’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, the Palestinian Authority strongly condemned it and stated that such acts are against the Palestinian national consensus and harm the national interests of the Palestinian people.” He restated the Government’s condemnation of all loss of life on both sides and called on Israel to do the same.Calling for the international community to show “more resolve” in response to the situation, he urged the Security Council not to remain silent and sit idly by as Israel continued its illegal policies, including its collective punishment against those who elected their government democratically. The Council must act, he said, to compel Israel to comply with its obligations under international law.Ambassador Dan Gillerman of Israel said the Palestinian observer had mentioned many words, but not the word Hamas. “No mention. And I think that the members of this Council deserve to know and to hear from the Palestinian Observer who indeed he represents, President Mahmoud Abbas who he quoted or Hamas who justified and celebrated the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. I think we all deserve to know.” The official spokesperson for Hamas did not condemn the attack but instead claimed that the Palestinians had every right to use all means to defend themselves and said the attack was justified.He blamed Iran, Syria and terrorist organizations they had supported, namely Hamas and Hizbollah. The most recent act was the swift implementation of the ongoing litany of hatred and venom, he said, citing recent statements from high-ranking Palestinian officials pledging to never recognize Israel and to “drive out the enemy from our land.” The mutilated bodies and the blood in the marketplace were the most poignant evidence” that fundamentalist leaders are inciting more acts of terrorism. A dark cloud is looming over our region and it is metastasizing as a result of the statements and actions by leaders of Iran, Syria and the newly elected Government of the Palestinian Authority,” he said, adding that the statements were “clear declarations of war.” He urged the Security Council to try to prevent the next murder. “Israel regrets any loss of life,” he said, but rejected any attempt to equate Israel’s actions in self-defence with the actions of suicide bombers. “Terror is terror is terror and can never be justified,” he declared. The danger facing Israel threatened not just that country but also all others “as this axis of terror sows the seeds of the first world war of the twenty-first century,” he warned.Among those taking part in the debate, Yahya Mahmassani, the Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said half a century of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had proven that a solution could not be reached by military means. The League of Arab States rejected targeting and violence against any civilians, wherever they were. Ending the conflict and reaching a just, comprehensive and lasting peace required return to serious negotiations by the parties concerned in accordance with relevant resolutions, as well as the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace and the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the League of Arab States Summit in March 2002 in Beirut.

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