Make sure ‘full adherence to ceasefire’, UNSC to Israel and Palestine

Make sure 'full adherence to ceasefire', UNSC to Israel and Palestine
— AFP/File

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Saturday released the first statement since carnage erupted in Gaza, calling on Israel and Palestinian groups to ensure “full adherence to the ceasefire”.

The statement received backing from the US delegation — which had blocked earlier drafts — only after the removal of a paragraph condemning the violence, a sensitive issue since it raised the question of blame.

Security Council members also stressed “the immediate need for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza.” An earlier draft said that “Security Council members condemned all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as acts of provocation, incitement and destruction.”

That draft also “expressed concern about the tensions and violence in east Jerusalem, especially in and around the holy sites, and urged for the respect of the historic status quo at the holy sites.”

The final statement, proposed by China, Norway and Tunisia, simply noted that the Council members “mourned the loss of civilian lives resulting from the violence.”

The US delegation, always one of Israel’s strongest supporters in the UN, had also rejected a French draft demanding an immediate end to hostilities and calling for the unimpeded distribution of humanitarian aid throughout Gaza.

It supported a call from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the international community to work with the UN to develop a “robust package of support for a swift, sustainable reconstruction and recovery.”

The statement also recognised “the important role Egypt (and) other regional countries” played in it, as well as the so-called Middle East Quartet, comprising the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN.

The Council reiterated the importance of achieving a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where Israel and the Palestinians live side by side in peace with secure borders.

The Security Council is scheduled to take up the Israeli-Palestinian issue again Thursday during a regular monthly meeting scheduled before the violence broke out.

The devastating 11-day violence claimed the lives of at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, while 12 people died in Israel, including one child.

A day after the ceasefire took hold Friday, ending deadly Israeli air strikes on the coastal enclave and the rocket fire out of it toward Israel, authorities were distributing supplies in Gaza, an AFP reporter said.

The UN said Saturday that at least 6,000 people had been made homeless in the territory controlled by the Hamas group.