NEW YORK – The Security Council held its quarterly meeting on the situation in the Middle East on Tuesday morning, where PLO Ambassador Riyad Mansour called on the UN to “bear witness to the despair of our people” and to hold Israel accountable in the International Criminal Court.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who joined the meeting remotely from Ramallah, began it with a statement about his diplomatic efforts in the Middle East over the past few days.
“I have had intensive and fruitful discussions with the leadership in all countries,” Ban said. “I am very much grateful to countries that have been engaging in diplomatic efforts to bring an end to this crisis.”
Though Ban said he would not publicly reveal details of the talks, he expressed hope that an end to fighting was near.
“This is a mission of solidarity and peace,” he said.
Ban said that during his trip he emphasized three steps – to stop the fighting, start the dialogue, and “tackle the root causes.”
“Without addressing the deeper issues we will never solve the problem. We will merely delay for yet another time,” he said.
Although Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has expressed support for Ban and the United Nation’s peacemaking efforts, Hamas, Ban said, has not. The secretary- general asked that the international community focus on the humanitarian crisis, and called for the Palestinian territories to be brought back under one governmental regime.
Ban said that the fighting has reached a fevered pitch since the UN Security Council meeting on Sunday, adding that “there is no time to lose.”
Mansour was invited to participate in the Security Council meeting, and he spoke just after the secretary-general, calling for an end to violence.
“The casualties are mounting with every passing minute.”
He held up photographs from the region. “We are not numbers, we are human beings,” he said.
“When hospital floors are drowning in the blood of innocents,” he said, “we know that the international community has failed at its commitment to protect civilians in armed conflict.”
Ambassadors were greeted by questions about the possibility of Jordan introducing a draft resolution concerning the military operation in Gaza as they filed into the Security Council chambers before the meeting began.
“It was agreed a few days ago, and it will be circulated today,” Mansour said.
But other ambassadors, including UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant and French Ambassador Gérard Araud, said that no resolution had been introduced. Neither the French nor British ambassador would comment on whether or not they thought a resolution was needed.
The French ambassador insisted that without the cooperation of both sides, no peace could be accomplished.
“My conviction has not changed since I arrived five years ago. If the two parties are unable to go to peace by themselves, it’s very obvious. And that if there isn’t an involvement of the international community, it will go nowhere,” he said.
The Israeli mission to the UN also referred to the situation.
“Trust me when I tell you, Gaza is the very last place we want our soldiers to be in,” said Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN David Roet. “This is not a war we chose, this is a last resort.”