Kenya calls Israeli-Palestinian conflict ‘dark moment’, calls for truce
Kenya has joined the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in calling for diplomatic negotiations to find a solution to the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine.
The country, in the latest appeal for both sides to lay down their arms, warns that the resurgence of violence between Israel and Palestine will make it more difficult for them to reach a two-state solution.
In a statement to the UNSC on Sunday evening, Dr Martin Kimani, Kenya’s permanent representative to the UN, warned that the violence risks producing generations angry with each other, making it difficult to tackle to the causes of the conflict.
Dr Kimani addressed a virtual Council open discussion session on the Middle East, focusing on the situation in Gaza, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
He said the country was opposed to illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory and called for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the violence, as the first step towards a new impetus for peace.
The envoy also said that the escalation of violence in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was – in addition to causing casualties – to reverse progress towards the ultimate goal of permanent peace. and safe.
“We fear that this latest episode of violence, and in particular its attacks on religious sites, will fuel extremism and hatred, and that this will lead to a further erosion of the moderate middle ground on which the difficult compromises necessary for a lasting peace can be made, ”said Dr Kimani.
He noted that Kenya condemns the violent riots and the exploitation of such popular anger by extremist groups.
The envoy added that in very emotional situations, law enforcement and military authorities should embrace de-escalation, protect lives and avoid demolition of civilian infrastructure.
“Kenya supports all ongoing international and regional efforts for peace. We call on community leaders, business and civil society in Israel and Palestine to be heard in favor of the ceasefire and dialogue. “
Dr Kimani further said that Kenya supports the efforts of China, Norway and Tunisia to release a timely, clear and balanced Security Council statement that can help defuse violence and support a pressure for a return to peace mediation.
Kenya wants the dialogue and negotiations to be guided by Council resolution 2334, and Dr Kimani says it is important that the agreed status quo on Jerusalem is respected.
Council Resolution 2334, adopted in 2016, calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” and to “fully comply with all its legal obligations in this regard”.
Two Palestinian militant groups – Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – on May 10 fired rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, hitting several residences and a school.
Israel retaliated with airstrikes on Gaza, targeting several apartment buildings and a press office building.
Israeli airstrikes killed 10 members of an extended family and demolished Gaza’s 13-story building housing Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV and the Associated Press news agency. Palestinian militants fired rockets.
Since May 10, Israeli air and artillery strikes on Gaza have killed 145 people, including 41 children. Palestinian armed groups fired at least 2,300 rockets at Israel.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said he was “appalled” by the civilian casualties in Gaza and “deeply disturbed” by the Israeli attack on a building housing international media.
But Israel claims it is hitting Hamas, which it accuses of firing rockets at it.
“The hostility that produces the type of violence that occurs today only breeds more violence and more generations born into enmities whose roots are too old to be uprooted,” Dr Kimani told the session.
“This dark moment calls for a renewed vision of peace, based on the idea that the current course only leads to further destruction of lives and hope.”
Kenya, a non-permanent member of the UNSC, has often supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the maps that distinguished their territories in 1967.
Dr Kimani said the violence “reverses progress” on security in the region, and called for the resumption of diplomatic negotiations that respect Resolution 2334.
Adopted in 2016, the resolution declared Israel’s deportations illegal and unsupported by international law. It was approved by all council members at the time, but the United States abstained. Israel, however, ignored the resolution.
It was the first time that the council agreed to speak in a single meeting since the start of the violence.
Members did not issue a joint statement once after the US veto last week. After Sunday’s session chaired by China, a draft statement prepared by China, Tunisia and Norway is expected to be released later that night. But the question of whether all members could approve a joint appeal was a question of wait-and-see.
At Sunday’s council, Palestine said the council is sitting on its hands because “the international consensus that you all helped shape and defend is being destroyed before our eyes.”
“The alternative that Israel has chosen is apartheid. And one day soon, even the council will not be able to deny it, ”said Dr Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN.
“Act now to end the aggression and assaults on our people, our homes [and] our earth. Act now so that freedom can prevail, not apartheid.
The dispute began in early May after a group of Palestinian families were evicted from land they claim to be their ancestral home. Packages in parts of East Jerusalem have been the subject of a legal battle between Palestinians and Israelis in Israeli courts since the 1970s.
Permanent Representative of Israel Gilad Erdan warns council not to send “disturbing message by buying Hamas propaganda”
Addressing the council, Erdan said Hamas, the Palestinian movement that rules Gaza, is attacking Israel and hiding behind civilians, including in structures housing media houses.
Attempts to compare Israel and Hamas are in fact legally and morally wrong. Hamas targets civilians. Israel targets terrorists.
“Israel uses its missiles to protect its children, Hamas uses children to protect its missiles,” Erdan said.
Israel was strongly condemned on Saturday after it demolished a historic building housing the offices of Al-Jazeera, the BBC and the Associated Press. He claimed that the building housed the Hamas intelligence unit.
Despite calls for a truce, Erdan suggested his country would not give in and called on the Council to support what he called the war on terror.
“The members of the UNSC have a choice today – to support a more peaceful future by demanding the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip and by insisting on an authority in Gaza, which invests in the well-being of the people of Gaza, rather than in the destruction of the State of Israel. “
During the public debate, council members called on Israel to use “proportionate” force to retaliate against Hamas. The US, UK and France have also called for de-escalation.
“The United States has made it clear that we are ready to lend our support and good offices if the parties seek a ceasefire, because we believe that Israelis and Palestinians also have the right to live in safety and security. security, ”said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States. Ambassador to the United Nations.
“We urge all parties to avoid actions that jeopardize a peaceful future. This includes avoiding incitement, violent attacks and terrorist acts, as well as evictions – including in East Jerusalem – demolitions and settlement building east of the 1967 lines. And most importantly, all parties must maintain and respect the historic status quo in holy places.
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