On October 22, 2015 the UN Security Council adopted a provisional agenda “Situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question” for its 7540th meeting. The participants of the session expressed their deep concerns about the worsening of current situation in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Among the most pressing issues addressed at the meeting were exacerbation of conflict and excessive use of lethal force between Israel and Palestine, escalating tensions and increased violence around the holy sites, and the settlement policy. According to Jan Eliasson, the Deputy Secretary-General, since the eruption of crisis in East Jerusalem in October 47 Palestinians and 7 Israeli people had been killed and more than 5,000 Palestinians and 70 Israeli had been injured. He asserted, “There is no justification whatsoever for murder”. There can be distinguished four central factors, elaborated by the speakers at some degree, that has triggered the fueling of the conflict and continues to facilitate the ongoing violence — disruption of historic status quo in East Jerusalem, arson attack and murder of Dawabsha family, proportionality of use of force by the Israeli security forces, and incitement of hatred on both sides.
The open debate on the Middle East was started with a statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, Riad Malki. Minister Malki, with the support of delegates from Jordan, Venezuela, China, Malaysia and others, strongly condemned the “occupying Power” in its provocative actions in the holy site by preventing the worshipers from access to Al-Aqsa mosque, disproportionate crackdown and “dehumanization” of Palestinians by Israeli people, and “illegal regime of settlements, blockage, and oppression” that systemically violates Article 4 of the 1949 Geneva Convention, and the national right for self-determination. The Palestinian speaker demanded to end a “barbaric military” occupation and called for Israeli compliance with its obligation to preserve the status quo in Jerusalem. In his turn, Danny Dannon (Israel) enlisted US support and declared Israel’s commitment and readiness to defend the right to protect its citizens living in their “historic homeland”. The speaker accused the Palestinian leader of falsifying inflammatory allegations against Israel and inciting hatred and “demonization of Jews”, and urged President Abbas to accept and engage into negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu.
During the meeting, all of the speakers condemned the waves of atrocious attacks and acts of terror against civilians in the region that pose a threat to international peace and security, and undermine the possibility of achieving a two-State solution. The delegates emphasized the importance in avoidance of provocative actions, easing tensions and ending incitements between conflicting parties, and restoring hope among Palestinians and Israeli people. Some hoped to achieve these objectives in the effective collaboration with the Middle East Quartet envoys. Furthermore, they encouraged both sides to exercise maximum restraint, and urged the UN Security Council to act immediately to de-escalate the crisis, to initiate peace talks as “the only path forwards to a lasting solution for confidence building” (China), and “create a binational state” (Spain). Lastly, the Deputy Secretary-General called on Israel and Jordan, as Custodians of the Holy Sites, to work jointly to preserve the historic status quo in Jerusalem, and facilitate inter religious dialogue (to prevent the escalation of a conflict from developing into religious war with potentially dangerous regional implications).
In conclusion, I wish to add that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a challenge that all of the nations must tackle. The future of peaceful co-existence of two states directly depends on present actions of the international community. It is the responsibility of the UN to find feasible solutions to address most pressing issues in the Middle Eastern crises that can only be achieved with the collective efforts of the world’s states. We must act now.
Read more: Geneva Convention 1949 – https://www.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/380
Al-Aqsa mosque – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34237219