Palestinian activist calls for arms embargo against Israel at UNSC debate

Randa Siniora Atallah says "Governments, arms companies and arms dealers, must be held accountable for the transferring of arms, in situation where they fuel conflict."

Randa Siniora Atallah speaks at the U.N. Security Council, October 25, 2018 (photo credit: screenshot)
Randa Siniora Atallah speaks at the U.N. Security Council, October 25, 2018
(photo credit: screenshot)
Member states of the United Nations Security Council must impose an arms embargo against Israel in cases where the weapons could be used for human rights violations, Palestinian activist Randa Siniora Atallah told the member states in New York on Thursday.
UNSC “member states continue to trade arms and offer political support to Israel, while Israel continues to enforce policies and practices that are in clear violation of international law,” Siniora Atallah said.
She was one of two women who briefed the council at the start of its debate on Women, Peace and Security and is the first Palestinian woman to do so
Siniora Atallah is the director of the Palestinian based Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling. She was invited to brief the UNSC debate by Bolivia, which holds the rotating UNSC presidency this month. Bolivia had similarly invited Hagai El-Ad, the head of the Israeli left-wing NGO B’Tselem Hagai, to brief the council earlier this month on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Some of Siniora Atallah’s comments addressed the plight of Palestinian women within their society, but the bulk of her comments were about Israel’s treatment of Palestinian women, its overall treatment of Palestinians and the need for Security Council action against Israel, including an arms embargo.
“We call on the states to stop exporting arms to Israel where there is a risk that they may be used to commit serious violations of international rights and humanitarian law,” she said.
“Governments, arms companies and arms dealers, must be held accountable for the transferring of arms in situations where they fuel conflict and [make] grave breaches in international law,” Siniora Atallah said.
She also called on Israel “to end its military occupation [of the West Bank] and settlement expansion, to commit to a political solution and immediately cease violations of its commitments under international law.”
Member states who spoke to the UNSC did not address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and instead focused on the larger issue of women.
Polish Ambassador to the UN Joanna Wronecka said the time had come for women to be the leaders of the peace process rather than the victims of war.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres opened the debate with a global speech about discrimination against women, particularly in peacemaking efforts.
“Between 1990 and 2017, women constituted just 2% of mediators, 8% of negotiators and 5% of witnesses and signatories in all major peace processes,” he said.
“Women human rights defenders, political leaders, journalists and activists – who play an important role in addressing the root causes of conflict – are targeted at alarming rates,” he said.
On a positive note, he said that 41% of the heads and deputy heads of peace operations are women, but the number of women in peace operations is stagnant and could decline, he said. On the negative side, Guterres said, women comprise only 4% of military peacekeepers and 10% of police.
Guterres said he was committed to ending all forms of sexual exploitation and that a hundred UN member states “have now signed voluntary compacts with us to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse – and I call on others to join them.”
He added that he had created a high-level task force to review funding for gender equality. “I will hold UN entities accountable to their commitments to track spending on women, peace and security, with a target of reaching or exceeding 15% by 2020,” Guterres said.
In the year 2000, the UNSC adopted resolution 1325 that calls for the protection of women’s rights during conflict, including the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence and the inclusion of women in the peace process.