Month of violence shows negotiations are the only Middle East option – UN official
The wave of deadly violence over the past month in the Middle East highlights how vital it is to return to the path of political negotiations and show Israelis and Palestinians that there is an alternative to the cycle of killings and destruction, the United Nations’ most senior political affairs told the Security Council today.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari said there are clear signs from victims on both sides of the conflict that “there is a growing fatigue with the current state of affairs and a desire to progress towards a solution.”
But he warned that a breakthrough is unlikely without the formation of a new Palestinian government that ensures the Palestinian Authority is better placed to tackle the needs of its people, maintain a ceasefire, fully engage with the international community and obtain the release of an Israeli soldier held captive in the Gaza Strip since June.
Mr. Gambari said Israel must also act responsibly to calm the situation by “prudently and proportionally” defending its citizens so as to avoid civilian casualties, citing the deaths of 19 Palestinians in an artillery attack on a residential neighbourhood in the town of Beit Hanoun on 8 November as an example of where civilian casualties became inevitable.
He added that Israel must also set out a clear timeline for dismantling settlement outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and for transferring customs and tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
Mr. Gambari also described Palestinian rocket fire into the western Negev region of southern Israel, especially in and around the town of Sderot, as “legally and morally wrong.”
The Under-Secretary-General also stressed that progress on the wider question of regional peace is also essential to helping solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, adding that the role of Syria is crucial in this area.
Riyad Mansour, Ambassador of Palestine, accused the Council of letting down the Palestinian people by failing to meet its responsibilities to uphold its own resolutions on the issue. He said one member of the Council had allowed Israel unjustified diplomatic protection and this was detrimental to the credibility of the international system.
Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman said today’s assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel showed the real situation on the ground in the region, saying the terror could stop overnight if parties such as Iran and Syria relinquished their support for it.