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    09-Dec-2023

UN Chief Warns of Consequences of Displacing Palestinians in Egypt

 

AFP

 

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has warned of a "total collapse" of the humanitarian support system in Gaza, saying it would have devastating consequences.
 
Guterres cautioned during a Security Council session on Friday that this would result in the complete breakdown of public order and increase pressure for mass displacement into Egypt.
 
He called for an immediate cessation of the fighting between Israel and Hamas.
 
The Security Council failed to pass a draft resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza on Friday.
 
The text, presented by the UAE, was vetoed by the United States, one of five permanent council members.
 
The vote was delayed several hours to overcome the objections of the US and the UK.
 
Western diplomats sought to postpone the vote to another day, hoping to reach a consensus on a decision that would be approved by all member states, or at least no veto will be used against it.
 
An Arab and Islamic ministerial delegation, chaired by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, held several meetings in Washington with senior US officials, namely Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
 
- Breaking point
 
Before the vote, the Security Council held a meeting Friday during which Guterres delivered a speech warning that the war poses a severe risk of aggravating existing threats to maintaining international peace and security.
 
Ahead of the session, the Sec-Gen announced an unprecedented decision to invoke Article 99, urging Council members to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and appealing for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared.
 
Guterres told the members that Gazans are going through "a spiraling humanitarian nightmare," noting that he wrote to the Security Council invoking Article 99 because "we are at a breaking point."
 
"We have already seen the spillover in the Occupied West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen."
 
He recalled that more than 130 UN staff had already been killed, many with their families.
 
However, Guterres asserted: "I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the UN is committed to stay and deliver for the people of Gaza."
 
"Nowhere in Gaza is safe," warned the Sec-Gen, adding that "Gazans are running out of food," and according to the World Food Program (WFP), there is a severe risk of starvation and famine.
 
He called upon Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release the Israeli captives, adding that "the brutality perpetrated by Hamas can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people."
 
- Palestine and Israel
 
Palestine's permanent observer Riyad Mansour warned that the Israeli occupation is planning for "ethnic cleansing" in Gaza, seizing the property of the Palestinian people and forcibly displacing them.
 
Mansour stressed that the war on Gaza aims to end the Palestinian cause and "prevent forever any prospect of Palestinian impudence and peace."
 
The diplomat praised Guterres's call for a ceasefire in Gaza, asserting that if anyone says they are against the destruction and displacement of Palestinian people, they have to be in favor of an immediate ceasefire.
 
"When you refuse to call for a ceasefire, you are refusing to call for the only thing that can put an end to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. This is how Israel is conducting the war, through atrocities," Mansour said.
 
Furthermore, Israel's Permanent Representative Gilad Erdan criticized the calls for a ceasefire, considering that regional security and stability can only be achieved "once Hamas is eliminated."
 
- Russia and China
 
Russia's Representative Dmitriy Polyansky stated that his country is working with China and the UAE to achieve an "immediate" ceasefire in Gaza, adding that the humanitarian truce was "insufficient."
 
Polyansky strongly criticized Israel and the US support, warning of "a new catastrophe," adding that Russia is ready to redouble its efforts to achieve a two-state solution following international resolutions and the 2002 Arab initiative.
 
Representative of China Zhang Jun paid tribute to the Secretary-General for his statement on the seriousness of the situation in Gaza.
 
He said China supports and co-sponsors the draft resolution submitted by the UAE because only an immediate ceasefire will save lives and pave the way for the two-state solution.
 
"A larger crisis is imminent," and regional peace and security are "on the precipice," said the Chinese diplomat, adding that the world is watching.
 
- The US position
 
US Deputy Permanent Representative Robert Wood said Washington still could not understand why the resolution's authors declined to include language condemning Hamas's attack on Israel.
 
He reiterated that the US does not support calls for an immediate ceasefire.
 
"There must be no enduring displacement or reduction in Gaza's territory. Under no circumstances would the US support forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank," he said.
 
Wood expressed concern about renewed acts of violence along the Blue Line on the Lebanese-Israeli border, adding that restoring stability is extremely important.
 
He condemned the Houthi attacks against commercial ships in international waters south of the Red Sea, saying Iran was involved in planning the operations.
 
He stressed that US officials extensively consulted with partners and allies to determine the appropriate next steps.
 
- France and Britain
 
France's Permanent Representative Nicolas de Riviere stressed that the Council must act in the face of this acute crisis, reiterating his country's demand for "a new, immediate and permanent humanitarian truce that leads to a permanent ceasefire."
 
He said that Paris is mobilizing its efforts to avoid the outbreak of a regional conflict, calling on all parties to exercise restraint.
 
UK's Ambassador Barbara Woodward said Hamas was responsible for the current situation, reiterating Israel's right to self-defense.
 
"Civilians must be protected," she underscored.
 
- Draft resolution
 
The UAE responded to Guterres' request to prepare a draft resolution that demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
 
The Sec-Gen noted that international humanitarian law cannot be applied selectively.
 
It is binding on all parties equally at all times, and the obligation to observe it does not depend on reciprocity.
 
He called for the "immediate and unconditional release, as well as their humane treatment and visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross until they are freed."
 

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