UN: Aid convoys to Gaza don't help

Security Council calls for "immediate release" of Schalit.

UN Security Council 311 (photo credit: courtesy)
UN Security Council 311
(photo credit: courtesy)
NEW YORK – Aid convoys like the May 31 Gaza flotilla “are not helpful to resolving the basic economic problems in Gaza and needlessly carry the potential for escalation,” according to a briefing the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs presented to the Security Council on Wednesday.
The briefing report also called for the “immediate release” of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, calling the lack of humanitarian access to Schalit “inexcusable.”
However, the report reiterated the Security Council’s call “for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards” regarding the Gaza flotilla incident, saying that UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon “continues to be in contact with the parties to gain agreement for his proposal for an international panel of inquiry that would be based on domestic inquiries.”
Saying that the world was at a “critical juncture in the effort to move to serious Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at achieving a two-state solution,” the report stated that it remained “the shared goal of the Quartet to bring about direct negotiations facilitated by the United States as soon as possible.”
“We urge the parties not to miss the current opportunity to make progress and move to direct negotiations with active third party involvement and close Quartet support,” the report said.
The report applauded food and other supplies entering the Gaza Strip under new Israeli policies. It also called for the West Bank housing-start moratorium to be “extended and expanded to cover all settlement activity throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.”
“The prospect of expulsion from their home city of Palestinian legislators in east Jerusalem would be a serious step backwards and would undermine hopes of making political progress,” the report noted.
Addressing the council, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gabriela Shalev called upon the body to ensure that another flotilla, said to be bound for Gaza in the next few days from Lebanon, be stopped in order to prevent future conflict.
Shalev expressed “Israel’s deep concern regarding new reports of yet another flotilla departing from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip,” and underscored the point that “the phenomenon of flotillas to Gaza are not conducive to the efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.”
“We call upon the international community to exert its influence on the organizers of this provocative action,” Shalev said.
“We also call on the government of Lebanon to demonstrate its responsibility to prevent this from happening.”
Shalev reiterated Israel’s commitment to peace in the region, and applauded the work of US President Barack Obama and envoy George Mitchell toward that goal, but decried Hizbullah’s actions in Lebanon as “a blatant violation of international law and basic dictates of humanity.”
“In Lebanon, the terrorist organization Hizbullah continues to build and embed its military infrastructure into the civilian population,” Shalev said. “Transfers of sophisticated weapons from Syria and Iran to Hizbullah systematically violate the arms embargo. At the same time, this terrorist group continues to place increasingly sophisticated and deadly weapons within villages, adjacent to schools, hospitals and civilian homes.”
Shalev stated that two basic principles must prevail in the peace process: first, a recognition of Israel’s right to security from threats, including Iran and Hizbullah; and second, the premise of a definitive end to the conflict as including mutual recognition between Israelis and Palestinians.
“A request that Israel recognize a Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinian people must be met with an acknowledgment that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people,” Shalev said.
Toward the end of her remarks, Shalev told the Security Council that Israel expected the international community “to do all in its power, more than has been done thus far, to bring about the swift release of Gilad Schalit.”
“Peace is not merely a signed document,” Shalev concluded.
“It is a set of values that allows us all to live our lives in security and with hope – Israelis and Palestinian alike.”
At the beginning of her speech, Shalev told the council, “I have sat at this council time and again to declare Israel’s commitment to peace. For words are the father of action; declarations of peace are the precursor to peace.”
Shalev called for “direct negotiations between us and the Palestinians. No preconditions, no delays.”
She implored the council to consider “how many times in this chamber have our neighbors recognized Israel’s right to exist as the homeland for the Jewish people? Or condemned Hamas terrorism and violence against Israeli civilians? Or spoke out against those who call for us to be wiped off the map? Not once. The silence is deafening.”