This meeting is being watched by millions of victims who see that their suffering will never reach the international stage because the General Assembly gathers today in a cynical, hateful and politicized fashion to delegitimize Israel’s fundamental right to defend its citizens.
Statement by Ambassador Gabriela Shalev
Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations
to the Tenth Emergency Special Session (resumed)
of the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations, New York
15 January 2009
I would like to stress that my comments are without prejudice to our clear position of principle that the convening of this Emergency Special Session violates the fundamental conditions of the “Uniting for Peace” procedure and the United Nations Charter.
The Emergency Special Session will take place as the Security Council is actively addressing the situation in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip. Only last week, the Security Council adopted resolution 1860 that seeks to promote an end to the current violence. As we now speak, the Secretary-General is visiting our region with the endorsement of the Security Council and with the view of facilitating a solution to the conflict.
The charter of the United Nations states that “While the Security Council is exercising in respect of any dispute or situation the functions assigned to it in the present Charter, the General Assembly shall not make any recommendation with regard to that dispute or situation unless the Security Council so requests.”
This being the case, what is the real purpose of convening this emergency special session?
Furthermore, UN General Assembly resolution 377 states that emergency special sessions of the General Assembly are designed to act only when the Security Council, “because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.” This means in case of veto only. Since there was no veto on this matter, and since the Security Council remains actively seized on this issue, the convening of this meeting of the General Assembly is one that defies its own rules.
This is not the only inherent defect with this meeting. Among other things, the subject under discussion is far removed from the issue which gave rise to the never-ending 10th Emergency Special Session. The convening of this meeting under the guise of the 10th Emergency Special Session is therefore deceitful and contrary to established procedure and honest common sense.
Yet in today’s meeting, the Assembly is not only trampling on its own procedural requirements, but also on the very principles it has committed itself to uphold.
In its resolution on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism (A/RES/63/129), this Assembly reiterated its strong condemnation of “all acts methods and practices of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.” But where was this Assembly’s condemnation of the Hamas’ terrorist attacks, of its deliberate targeting of schools and hospitals, of the eight years in which the residents of southern Israel have had to live their lives within 15 seconds reach of bunkers to protect them from terrorist rockets and missiles?
Where is this assembly’s strong condemnation of the incidents of katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon on a nursing home in Nahariya and in Kiryat Shmona in the north of Israel just in the last week?
In the abovementioned resolution, the Assembly reiterated its call upon states to refrain from financing, encouraging, providing training for or otherwise supporting terrorist activities. Where then is the condemnation of Iran, which manufactured many of the missiles smuggled into Gaza during the period of so-called calm, and trained the terrorist to fire them on Israeli schools and kindergartens?
Where is the condemnation of Syria which continues to host terrorist headquarters in Damascus, and to facilitate the flow of weapons and missiles across its border to Hezbollah?
In this Assembly’s resolution on the Safety and Security of Humanitarian and United Nations Personnel (A/RES/61/133), the General Assembly stressed the importance of “fully respecting the obligations relating to the use of vehicles and premises of humanitarian personnel and the United Nations.” Where then is its condemnation of Hamas and other terrorist groups for deliberately endangering civilians by hiding stockpiles of weapons and missiles inside hospitals, and firing them from in and around United Nations schools?
In this Assembly’s resolution on Assistance to Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (A/RES/58/150), this Assembly condemned “all acts of exploitation of unaccompanied refugee minors, including their use as soldiers or human shields in armed conflict and their forced recruitment into military forces, and any other acts that endanger their safety and personal security.” Why then is this Assembly silent as Hamas launches attacks from densely populated homes and mosques as it cowers behind the Palestinian population as human shields?
In its resolution on Combating Defamation of Religions (A/RES/63/171), this Assembly expressed its deep concern at “programs and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at the defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred.” Where then is the deep concern of this assembly at the toxic religious incitement and indoctrination of Palestinian children, and the brutal persecution of Christians in Gaza? Where is the rejection of the Hamas Covenant which states “No war takes place anywhere in the world without the Jews behind the scenes having a hand in it…whenever they fan the flames of war, Allah will extinguish them.”
This Assembly is trampling on its own procedures, and on its own principles. But it is also trampling on the hopes of millions of people for a better world.
For this meeting is being watched. It is being watched by the Hamas terrorist organization which sees that there are dark corners of the international community in which disdain for human values will not deprive Hamas of legitimacy.
It is being watched by al-Qaida and other terrorist groups around the world, who learn that the resolve of the international community to confront terrorists is beginning to crack. They learn that hiding behind civilians in the course of armed conflict – bringing death and injury upon such civilians – is indeed cowardly but can here be effective and serve their purposes.
It is being watched by Iran – the sponsor of terror – for whom it confirms that its war of terror by proxy against humanity may bring results.
It is being watched by over one million Israeli civilians who live under the threat of Hamas rockets and mortar shells.
Sadly, there are countless human tragedies and immeasurable human suffering around the globe. Victims of the most severe violations of their most basic rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iran, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere cry out for their plight to be heard, for their suffering to be redressed by the international community.
This meeting is being watched by those millions of victims. It is being watched by those who see that their suffering will never reach the international stage because the General Assembly gathers today in a cynical, hateful and politicized fashion to delegitimize Israel’s fundamental right to defend its citizens.
From this meeting, all such victims can only draw despair.