Security Council and Others at UN Respond to Israeli Attacks on Gaza
Press statement issued by Security Council after 5 hours of consultations
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Reporting from the United Nations, Saturday night Dec. 27 through Sunday morning, Dec. 28. -- I arrived at the United Nations around 9:35 p.m. (EST) after learning that there were to be Security Council consultations about what is happening in Gaza. The Security Council consultations were scheduled for 10 p.m. (EST).

The Libyan delegation, on behalf of the Arab League, had asked for a meeting of the Security Council to respond to the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Soon after the members arrived, some members of the delegations told the press that the Security Council members were working on a statement which would urge Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza. Also, the statement was to call for cessation of rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza.

Another element for the statement was said to be to call for the opening of the border crossings into Gaza and unrestricted humanitarian access to the area.

A few others who spoke with the press informally were quick to point out that the draft effort to fashion a statement was not something agreed to in any way yet by the members of the Security Council. The discussion among the members of the Security Council was said to be about whether they would hold a meeting this evening and if so what the meeting would do.

A representative of one of the delegations said that their delegation wanted either a statement that all members of the Security Council agreed on presented to the press this evening, or else an open meeting where all members would speak freely.

Five hours after the meeting began, members of the Security Council emerged from their consultations. They had indeed agreed on a statement to be read to the press.

The statement contained several points.

These included:
1) The statement that there was serious concern about "the escalation of the situation in Gaza."

2) The call for "an immediate halt to all violence."

3) The call for "all parties to stop immediately all military activities."

4) The call for the opening of the border crossings "to ensure the continuous provision of humanitarian supplies."

5) The statement "stressed the need for the restoration of calm" toward finding a political solution for the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Several of the parties came to speak briefly to the press after the Security Council issued its statement.

The American ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, wanted it known that he attributed the root cause of the problem to Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel. He limited the questions he would answer after being confronted with questions from reporters asking if what Israel was doing in killing over 200 Palestinians was not a disproportionate response.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin indicated that there were different views among Security Council members about what the root cause of the problem was, but that the bottom line was that the situation in Gaza had slipped, and that it was important to stop the bloodshed. He expressed his appreciation that the matter had been brought to the Security Council as a result of a decision of foreign ministers, and that a statement had been issued by the Council.

When asked what the Security Council would do to follow up on the statement, he said that the statement had been crafted with some understanding by the Israeli government that it was issued, and he expected that the parties assumed that there were certain responsibilities given that the Security Council had issued a statement.

The Palestinian observer at the UN explained that if Israel didn't comply, the Arab nations would come back knocking at the door of the Security Council.

Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev said that the Security Council didn't have to be in such a rush to issue a statement.

The French ambassador, Jean-Maurice Ripert, said that the statement made clear that the border crossings to Gaza had to be open including having access allowed to NGOs, diplomats, and journalists.

While the members of the Security Council were discussing what the Security Council would do, others at the United Nations presented their view of the situation.

The Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, via his spokesperson had issued a statement on Saturday, Dec. 27. It contained a general statement about Israel's obligation to uphold humanitarian law, and human rights law, in general condemning "excessive use of force," but condemning by name Hamas for ongoing rocket attacks on Israel. The statement is posted at the UN.

The President of the General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, announced he would cut short his brief Christmas holiday to return to the UN from Nicaragua.

His spokesperson, Enrique Yeves, told journalists, "The General Assembly President is extremely worried about the whole situation. He believes it is time for the international community to act to prevent this kind of aggression from Israel against the civilian population of Palestine."

"If we fail," Yeves explained, "we will all be guilty by omission."

The president of the General Assembly is following very closely the situation in New York, said Yeves, and he gave journalists a copy of Brockmann's statement.

The statement by the president of the UN General Assembly expressed in a clear and forthright manner that he condemned the actions by Israel. The statement by the president of the General Assembly says:
The behavior by Israel in bombarding Gaza is simply the commission of wanton aggression by a very powerful state against a territory that [it] illegally occupies.

Time has come to take firm action if the United Nations does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission.

The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.

Those violations include:

Collective punishment -- the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

Targeting civilians -- the airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

Disproportionate military response -- the airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza's elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

I remind all member states of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations.

I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move expeditiously not only to condemn Israel's serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people."

2008/12/28 오후 6:29
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