The United Nations Security Council open debate on Wednesday (local time) on the “situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” saw tempers flare and Israel calling for the resignation of the United Nations chief Antonio Guterres.
“It is important to also recognize that the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing,” the UN chief said, pointing to the conflict between Israel-Hamas and how Palestinian civilians from Palestine have unfortunately suffered the most as they continue to bear the humanitarian cost.
Israeli envoy to the UN Gilad Erdan and other officials present at the UNSC open debate were enraged and immediately rallied against the UN chief when Guterres said: “The grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”.
Erdan immediately took to X (formerly Twitter) and in a post demanded the resignation of Guterres. “The UN Secretary-General, who shows understanding for the campaign of mass murder of children, women, and the elderly, is not fit to lead the UN. I call on him to resign immediately,” Erdan said. “It’s sad that a person with such views is the head of an organisation that arose after the Holocaust. It’s really unfathomable,” he further added.
Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen was visibly frustrated as he held a picture of Israelis being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza while participating in the debate.
He then cancelled his meeting with Guterres over his comments.
“Absolutely nothing can justify the slaughter of innocent civilians. Now is the time to stand on the right side of history, or be judged by it. Terror apologists cannot speak on behalf of the world,” Benny Gantz, Israeli Knesset member, said.
Iran-US Trade Barbs
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Iran envoy to the UN Amir Saeid Iravani traded barbs over the deteriorating security situation in West Asia. “Don’t throw fuel on the fire. The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. We do not want this war to widen. But if Iran or its proxies attack US personnel anywhere, make no mistake: We will defend our people, we will defend our security – swiftly and decisively,” Blinken said.
To this, Iravani responded by saying: “Our commitment to regional peace and stability remains unwavering. The US has further exacerbated the conflict by overtly aligning itself with the aggressor at the expense of the innocent Palestinian population”.
India Bats for Two-State Solution
The Indian deputy permanent representative (DPR) to the United Nations R Ravindra reiterated the need for pursuing a two-state solution in Palestine and urged global powers to work together to find lasting peace in the region.
“I reaffirm India’s unwavering commitment to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine living within secure & recognized borders, side by side at peace with Israel. There’s no other alternative to a negotiated two-state solution,” Ravindra said.
“The unfolding humanitarian crisis needs to be addressed. We welcome the efforts of the international community for de-escalation and delivery of humanitarian goods to the people of Gaza. Towards this, we reiterate the need for an early resumption of direct peace negotiations,” he further added.