Liberman and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
(photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)
In a meeting with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman decried that not only were rockets found in UNRWA schools in Gaza, but also that UNRWA then turned them over to Hamas, rather than to Israel.
UNRWA has admitted to finding Hamas rockets in their facilities on two different occasions since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge 16 days ago. It said it handed them over to local authorities “answerable to the national unity government.”
Liberman said Israel was very “troubled” by these developments.
“UNRWA schools were established to educate children in Gaza, but instead they are providing a hiding place for rockets meant to kill children in Israel,” he said. He said the decision to give the rockets back to Hamas was something completely “unacceptable.”
Liberman told Ban – currently in the region trying to broker a cease-fire – that the Middle East was in the midst of a “tsunami,” and not because of the events in Gaza, but rather because of what was transpiring in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.
“But that reality is not reflected in part of the UN institutions, such as the UN Human Rights Council where countries like Cuba and Venezuela approve resolutions condemning Israel,” he said. His meeting with Ban came just prior to a meeting of the UNHRC in Geneva about the situation in Gaza. Liberman pointed out that there was not a single condemnation of the killing of 3,000 Palestinians in the Yarmuk refugee camp in Syria, and not a single discussion about it neither in any international forum, nor even in the institutions of the Palestinian Authority.
Liberman said he expected Ban to work against anti-Israel resolutions that are being pushed through the UN.
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The foreign minister told Ban that following the fighting in Gaza, a mechanism needed to be established to ensure that the goods – such as concrete – brought into Gaza would be used for the benefit of the people there, and not to build a labyrinth of tunnels from which it is possible to attack Israel.
The UN secretary-general also met with President Shimon Peres on Wednesday, where he pledged to work toward bringing peace to the region.
In their meeting, Peres told Ban that Qatar is spending millions of dollars enabling Hamas to built rockets and dig tunnels, instead of improve its infrastructure.
“They are committed to death and destruction,” he said, adding that instead of investing in education, healthcare and building for Gaza’s future, Hamas had wasted millions of dollars on rockets and tunnels.
“The people of Gaza could have been given hope, but instead Hamas brought them destruction.”
Peres voiced regret at the suspension of flights to Israel by international airline carriers.
“The real answer is not to stop flights but to stop rockets which are endangering air traffic in the whole world,” he said. “Freedom of flying is as important as freedom of speech. If airlines submit, they invite more rocket fire.”
Ban said: “It pains me to see that violence is continuing.
We have failed to bring peace and security” he conceded, but pledged that the UN will continue in its efforts to bring about peace. “The firing must stop immediately and negotiations must begin.”
Ban voiced solidarity with Israelis living under the fear of rocket attacks, but said he was also sensitive to the deep pain and anguish among the Palestinians, with more than 600 killed and more than 3,000 injured in Israeli air strikes.
“I cannot be silent in the face of this tragedy,” he said. “I grieve over the loss of innocent lives and mourn with the families.”
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