UNSC: Middle East Emergency: Israel and Palestine
By Patrick Liu and Lizzie Mcgowan
On May 14, the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Its actions violated international law, and has been cited as a cause for the ensuing escalated violence in Gaza.
Soon after the embassy opening, Palestinian demonstrators faced Israel’s lethal violence - over 60 Palestinians were killed in this skirmish. Subsequently, Kuwait, the only Arab state on the UN Security Council (UNSC), requested the UNSC to issue a press release;however, the United States blocked the UNSC from issuing it.
Due to the U.S’s ill-advised decision to move its embassy to Israel that precipitated the violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces Kuwait requested an emergency meet to discuss the security situation.
A. Briefing on Gaza Violence from Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator
Mladenov briefed the UNSC on the Gaza “tragedy”, adding that “there is no justification for the killing.” Although Mladenov acknowledged that Israel can protect its borders, he asserted that they must respond proportionally to any demonstrations. He called on the UNSC to listen to the plight of those in Gaza. These Palestinians have endured so much. For example, they have been plagued by both intrastate turmoil amongst Palestinian leaders, as well as interstate conflicts between Palestine and Israel. He further criticized arguments by various Israeli officials, who have suggested that the recent Palestinian protests were designed to instigate Israeli forces and spark a violent reaction.
II. Statement from Kuwait, the only Arab State on the UNSC
A. Statement from Kuwait
Kuwait began the statement session by stating Kuwait’s mission to find and hold those accountable to the recent escalation of events in the Middle East. Kuwait asserted its strong support to the plight of the Palestinian people. Specifically, Kuwait expressed support for all legal Palestinian attempts to enhance sovereignty, by demanding Israel’s withdrawal from all Palestinian territory. Kuwait appealed to the UNSC on behalf of Palestinian goals of international security and peace.
III. Statements from the P-5
A. Statement from the United States
The United States, focused its comments’ on Iran’s “aggressive” actions against Israel and the double standard used in the Middle Eastern regional violence. Haley pointed out that Iran, as the primary instigator, has also launched missiles into Israel and Saudi Arabia. According to the US, Iran has been funding Hamas, its terrorist proxy agent and providing it with arms in order to destabilize Lebanon. The U.S. further alleged that Iran has been supporting proxy agents in Syria in order to destabilize the state. Finally, the U.S. concluded that Iran’s hostile acts are the primary reason for instability in the region.
With regards to Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians, the U.S. emphasized that Israel’s actions were justified because it was defending itself from terrorists. In essence, she explained that Israel used force in order to maintain order along its borders.
The U.S. additionally made distinctions between the recent actions of the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem, and the violence in the Gaza region. specified that violence in the area is not from the controversial opening of the US Embassy, but from Israel’s and Palestine’s long-standing history. She also reiterated the US’s sovereign right to choose the location of its embassy.
B. Statement from the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom called for “calm and restraint” in order to avoid the destruction of peace efforts in the region. Moreover, in order to quell the conflict and maintain regional security, the UK stressed the need for the UN to conduct an independent investigation to examine the recent violations of international law.
The UK also advised the Two-state system as a possible solution to ending conflicts and tensions of the region. Overall, the UK advocated for the international community to step up its efforts toward maintaining peace, and regional and international security.
C. Statement from France
France analyzed the reality of Gaza violence as a byproduct of decades of Israel’s blockade. In the absence of political prospects for progress, this situation escalated into violence. “This ongoing violence has neared the breach of no return”, according to the French Ambassador. Because of the violence, France has called for a detailed investigation into the recent violence. Furthermore, France advocated for peace on both sides - the exclusion of lethal light weapons, as well as the restraint of violence from protestors.
France urged the UNSC to take a stance and stop the violent escalation. “The silence of the council is incomprehensible” continued the French ambassador. In order to reach a solution, France suggested that the two parties considered the 2-state solution with a shared Jerusalem.
D. Statements from Russia and China
The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China held similar viewpoints with regards to the Middle East crisis and the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Both states strongly advocated for a “direct dialogue” between Palestine and Israel. The 2-state formula, creating two independent, separate, and sovereign states was also repeatedly offered as a solution for the escalation.
Despite this, the two states did have different perspectives on the issue. China focused more on maintaining peace in the area through increased international assistance and peaceful negotiations. Russia however, used the case of Palestine violence to make a statement of the misguided direction of the world. Despite some players “and their grandiose projects”, Russia asserted that the world is not becoming a safer and more secure place.
IV. Statements from Non-Permanent members
Sweden emphasized that “every loss of life is a tragedy”. Yet given Israel’s right to protect itself, Sweden urged that Israel, as the occupying power, also has a “special responsibility” to protect the Palestinian civilians. Lethal force should only be used a last resort, with restraints of force on unarmed civilians and children. An investigation should be conducted to determine the roles of each party involved in the conflict.
Sweden also lamented the failure of the UNSC (and the US) to adopt the public statement from Kuwait regarding the violence. As a solution, Sweden insisted for a shared Jerusalem amongst the two states, regretting the decision by the US to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (fix sentence structure). Despite these failures, Sweden hopes to re-launch the peace process.
B. (Latin America (Bolivia, Peru)
Bolivia strongly aligned with Palestine, by repeatedly asking for forgiveness for the UNSC’s failure to protect the Palestinian people. Bolivia called out Israel’s illegal occupation of territory, and their lethal use of force. This illegal occupation by Israel is the “real problem”. Bolivia stresses that resolving this issue must take precedence to other. Separately, Bolivia alluded to the US, which supports Israel, as part of the problem.
Peru made similar appeals for an investigation to assess Israel’s use of lethal force. Peru cites “minimum standards of coexistence” that are being regularly violated in and around Gaza. Peru also reminded the UNSC that the final status of Jerusalem must be negotiated with Israel and Palestine.
C. African States (Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea)
Ethiopia stated the African Union’s position that they “believe it is a final status issue that must be resolved between the two parties”. Ethiopia urged that they must find a solution through the two-state formula to stop the escalation before the primary players reaches the point of no return.
Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire echoed similar views.
Kazakhstan supported the Palestinian peaceful demonstrations yet calls on both sides to exercise restraint on violent actions. Appealing to international law, Kazakhstan indicated that Israel violated international law through their “unilateral action in changing Jerusalem”.
The Netherlands stated that there is a need for an immediate structural solution in Gaza as violence escalates. Restraint on both sides, as well as an investigation into the violence are necessary.. Lastly, the Netherlands cited “incompatible actions and rhetoric” by both sides that must be rejected if de-escalation is to occur. As part of the peace process, the Netherlands believes that diffusing tensions, and a 2-state solution will lead to peace in the region. Poland further called on the UNSC and members of the quartet to take action to fix the problem.
F. Poland (president)
Poland shared the calls for an investigation into the Gaza violence states that it is “imperative to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law”. To ensure security, Poland recommended a 2-state system.
V. Statements from Israel and Palestine
Palestine provided scathing remarks about the hypocrisy and false narratives of the United States and Israeli government. He asserted Israel’s use of force was excessive and unwarranted given that Palestinian protesters were not armed or dangerous. He then called on the assistance of the security council to provide protection to the Palestinian people to stop Israeli aggression. Additionally, he called for an investigation into the deaths of the 60 Palestinians, acknowledging that Palestine would accept the results of the investigation.
Following this, he chastised the UNSC for not taking the necessary precautions to protect the Palestinian people, despite his past warnings. Palestine further questioned the council about their paralysis in the face of clear violations of international law. By allowing one nation to block the Council’s investigation, Palestine asserted that they are “looking away” as the Israelis continue their illegal occupation.
Palestine emphatically accused the occupying power, Israel, for ignoring its obligation to protect the Palestinian people under international law. In addition to the deaths of the innocent Palestinians in the recent conflict, Israel has also cut off access to basic necessities such as food, medicine, and water to those wounded in the protests. Consequently, Palestine urged the international community to take action against Israel’s blatant violations of international law.
To counter the U.S position that moving the embassy was not the source of violence, Palestine recognized that the United States has been ignoring what has been happening on the ground in Gaza. It is clear that the Palestinian people have always been diametrically opposed to the Israelis establishing Jerusalem as their capital and the relocation of the U.S.embassy. Furthermore, Palestine noted that the U.S> decision is at variance with the international community.
Palestine concluded by imploring the UNSC to take action and respect Palestine’s requests and rights. In order to ensure accountability and justice, Palestine immediate steps must be taken (what are the immediate steps: spell them out). Palestine Left the UNSC Council as soon as Israel took the floor.
Israel defended its position to use force against the Palestinians by claiming that Hamas was the aggressor in the protests. Israel also underscored that the international community should trust Hamas because it is an internationally recognized terrorist organization,are committed to the infiltrating Israel, and implementing acts of violence against Israel.
Israel went on a diatribe about the manipulation techniques that the Palestinians used in the media, to depict the Israelis as guilty. Israel warned that the UNSC should not to be fooled by the images shown in the media during the violent skirmishes in the protests. Furthermore, Israel accused the Palestinians of lying and being a liason to the Hamas agenda of manipulating the world to sympathize with terrorists.
Israel also defended the Jewish people’s historical claim to Jerusalem. Therefore, it is their religious right to claim it as their capital. From Israel’s perspective, Hamas will never want peace as it will always be the aggressor against the peaceful Israeli’s. Lastly, the Israeli representative accused Palestine of continuously choosing violence when given an option for peace. He recounted Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and the ensuing violence incited by the Palestinians. Israel urged the UNSC to neither give in to the fallacy of the Palestinian’s story nor contribute to the cycle of death.