UNSC condemns Gaza violence

Members stress escalation must not deter two-state solution; US: "It's not a balanced resolution."

Gaza mosque rubble 224.8 (photo credit: AP)
Gaza mosque rubble 224.8
(photo credit: AP)
The United Nations Security Council on Sunday condemned the escalation of fighting in southern Israel and Gaza, urging both sides in a media statement to cease "all acts of violence." The statement, though not a formal resolution, also stressed that the violence "must not be allowed to deter the political process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at establishing two states - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security." The statement was the result of a five-hour emergency council meeting held at the request of Libya on behalf of Arab League following a request by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "Members of the Security Council are deeply concerned about the loss of civilian life in southern Israel and Gaza and condemn the escalation of violence that has taken place," the summary said. "Members of the council underscore the need for all parties to immediately cease all acts of violence." Addressing the council, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said: "While recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children." He called on Israel to cease "such attacks" and comply with international humanitarian law. The secretary-general also condemned Palestinian rocket attacks and called for the cessation of "such acts of terrorism which serve no purpose, endanger Israeli civilians, and bring misery to the Palestinian people." The permanent Palestinian observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, called Israel's actions, including the closure of all border crossings into Gaza, "war crimes." "Such actions are clearly prohibited by international law and are being committed by the occupying power on a scale and scope amounting to war crimes," Mansour told the council. In response, Deputy Ambassador Daniel Carmon told the Palestinian observer to divert his accusation to Hamas. "If they answer your phone, distinguished colleague, you can tell them something about 'war crimes,' as well as much of what you told the council this evening," said Carmon. Carmon told the council that Israel had shown restraint for the last several months, despite the ongoing rocket and mortar shell attacks, and reiterated Israel's right to defend itself. "This is our duty. This is our obligation to our people," he said. The council was to consider a Libyan draft resolution that would condemn Israel for killing Palestinian civilians. The draft expresses the council's "grave concern" over the killing of "innocent civilians" and calls for an "immediate cessation of all acts of violence" and the immediate opening of border crossings to the Gaza Strip. The draft does not mention Palestinian rocket fire against Israel. Council experts are expected to meet Monday afternoon to consider the draft resolution. Such resolutions have failed in the past because of US and European objections that they are not balanced in their condemnation. AP contributed to this report.