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General Assembly considers draft resolution on Israeli attacks at Beit Hanoun

General Assembly considers draft resolution on Israeli attacks at Beit Hanoun

The United Nations General Assembly today met in emergency session to consider a draft resolution that would call for a United Nations fact-finding mission to the Middle East to examine recent Israeli attacks at Beit Hanoun, where 19 people died following a raid last week.

As the Assembly resumed its emergency special session on “Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Qatar introduced the text, which is similar to one defeated last weekend in the Security Council by a United States veto.

The draft introduced in the Assembly would condemn the killings demand “the immediate cessation of military incursions and all acts of violence, terror, provocation, incitement and destruction between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, including extrajudicial executions, bombardment against Palestinian civilian areas, air raids and firing of rockets.”

It comes on the heels of the adoption by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council of a resolution that also condemned the killings and dispatched a fact-finding mission to the region.

“We must condemn the assassination of Palestinian and Israeli civilians without distinction because such arbitrary killings are contrary to the rules of international humanitarian law,” said Assembly President, Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa of Bahrain in opening the debate, which saw the participation of over 20 speakers.

“The escalation of violence and counter-violence in this dramatic fashion carries disastrous consequences and has a negative impact on both societies, Palestinian and Israeli, and widens the gap between both peoples, who live side-by-side,” she said, stressing that both sides must return to the negotiating table “because dialogue is the only means which allows to serve the interests of both parties and to achieve the expected peace.”

Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer of Palestine, said the six-day aggression by Israelis had culminated in the shelling of a residential neighbourhood as people slept soundly, killing 19 people, 16 of them members of the same family. The massacre in Beit Hanoun must be acknowledged, and the Israeli aggression must be stopped, he said.

Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman said the General Assembly was being “used, abused and hijacked.” Today’s emergency was not in the Assembly Hall, but in Israeli cities, where residents were pounded daily by rockets, he said, adding that ever since Israel had left Gaza, Palestinians had turned Gaza into a staging ground for war against Israel.

The General Assembly first convened this tenth emergency special session in 1997, when Israel began construction of a new settlement south of East Jerusalem, and resumed it subsequently in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.