At UN, Palestinian, Israeli envoys accuse each other of 'genocide'

By: AFP      Published: 10:41 AM, 21 May, 2021
Clash at UN
A scene from Gaza shows who is committing the genocime.

The Palestinian foreign minister and Israel's ambassador both leveled accusations of "genocide" during a special United Nations debate Thursday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged a ceasefire, saying "I am deeply shocked by the continued air and artillery bombardment by the Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza."

He also called "unacceptable" the "indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas and other militant groups towards population centers in Israel."

"Let's stop this massacre," said Palestinian foreign minister Riad Al-Malki, during whose speech Israeli Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan walked out.

"The whole world stays silent and turns a blind eye to the genocide of whole Palestinian families," Al-Malki said.

See Also: Israel and Hamas announce ceasefire

During his turn before the General Assembly, Erdan alleged there was indifference to "Hamas's charter, which, like the Nazis, is committed to the genocide of the Jewish people."

"We see an attempt to create a false moral equivalence," Erdan said. "Israel makes every effort to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas makes every effort to increase civilian casualties."

Rockets from Hamas and other Islamist armed groups have claimed 12 lives in Israel, including one child, with one Indian and two Thai nationals among those killed, Israeli police say.

Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed 232 Palestinians, including 65 children and another 1,900 wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry, leaving vast areas in rubble and displacing some 120,000 people, according to Hamas authorities.

"How can an occupying power have the right to defend itself when a whole people under occupation is deprived of the very same rights?" said the Palestinian minister, concerning Israeli claims of self-defense.

- US: 'we have not been silent' -

The United States meanwhile rejected criticism that it has been too cautious in its reaction of the violence, which erupted May 10.

Since then the US has opposed several Security Council statements calling for a halt to airstrikes and rocket fire.

On Thursday the US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated President Joe Biden's communication to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US continues "to stand by Israel's right to defend itself."

"We believe Israel is now in a position to begin winding down the conflict, and we expect a significant de-escalation to begin," she said, saying the US has held more than 60 diplomatic meetings in a bid to end the bloodshed including five involving Biden.

The US has signaled opposition to France's proposed draft Security Council resolution that "demands an immediate cessation of hostilities" and calls for "intensification and acceleration of diplomatic efforts and support for a negotiated two-state solution."

See Also: Qureshi proposes ‘coalition of the willing’ at UNGA to protect Palestinians

France has not given any indication on when a vote might be held. 

"We've not been silent," Thomas-Greenfield said of the US stance. "And we hope that people across the region have heard us loud and clear."

"In the hours and days ahead, we will continue to relentlessly push for peace. And we appreciate that so many nations have come together in this body to express the importance of resolving the conflict."

Diplomatic representatives for Qatar, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, Pakistan and Kuwait united to roundly condemn the actions of Israel.

Qatar's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, said "the international community must act to put an end to the Israeli aggression," as Tunisia's Othman Jerandi denounced "crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing."

"These massacres have gone on too long," said Ayman Safadi of Jordan.

Alluding to the American veto power over the Security Council, Pakistani diplomat Shah Mahmood Qureshi said if the Council "fails" to "call for a cessation of Israel's attacks," the General Assembly must do so.