On Sunday, a meeting of the UN Security Council was held on the situation in the Middle East. The head of the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Israel of war crimes and apartheid, while the Israeli ambassador accused Hamas of deliberately seeking to cause as many civilian casualties as possible. Diplomatic efforts to end the fighting have not yet produced results.
Sunday’s deliberations were the Council’s first public meeting on the latest escalation between Israel and Hamas after two private meetings. This time, too, the UNSC did not issue a common stance against US opposition, which it feared would hurt behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts to bring about a ceasefire.
During a virtual meeting, representatives of the Palestinian side and Israel were heard, who exchanged accusations of war crimes and risking the lives of civilians.
Head of Palestinian Diplomacy: I have no words to describe Israel’s actions
The head of Palestinian diplomacy, Riyadh al-Maliki, called on the international community to condemn Israel, saying it “lacks words” to describe the enemy’s actions. He said Israel was to blame for the current crisis, referring to the police intervention in one of Islam’s holiest sites, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, where clashes with Arab demonstrators have occurred.
– Did Israel expect it could attack the most holy place, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in its holiest month, Ramadan? Did he expect the Palestinians to meekly wait to be kicked out of their homes, family after family? asked the diplomat. He accused Israel of pursuing an apartheid policy and of war crimes during the bombing of the densely populated Gaza.
Israel takes “unprecedented steps”
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, replied that Israel was taking “unprecedented measures” to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas, the radical Palestinian movement ruling over Gaza, was targeting as many of them as possible, using civilians as “human shields.” He also accused the Islamists of deliberately using tensions in Jerusalem to “start this war.”
The US is “working tirelessly” on truce talks
The other participants in the meeting called for a ceasefire in the firefight that has been going on since Monday. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced that the US is “working tirelessly” on truce talks and offered US support “if the parties seek an end to violence.” At the same time, Washington blocked initiatives to adopt a common position on the crisis proposed by Norway, Tunisia and China. China, which holds the presidency of the Council, criticized the US “obstruction” and called on Washington to “take a fair stance.”
“The Fight Must End Immediately”
Jordan’s King Abdullah announced on Sunday that his country was engaged in “intense diplomacy” on ending the conflict, although Jordan’s chief diplomat warned Israel that escalating violence could spark wider conflict in the region. The USA, Egypt and Qatar, among others, also participate in similar talks.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres wrote on social media that “the fight must end immediately.”
The most tragic day since the tension escalated
Despite these efforts and calls for an end to hostilities, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that operations against Hamas are “continuing at full power” and “may still be ahead” as Israel wants to force Islamists to pay a high price for the missile strike. Sunday was also the most tragic day in the current escalation of tensions – 42 Palestinians, including children, were killed in the Israeli air strikes on Gaza that day.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / MOHAMMED SABER