The Security Council reviewed the world court’s (ICJ) provisional ruling on genocide allegations, and the UN chief briefed the top UN committee on Palestinian rights, stressing that the relief agency, UNRWA, is the “backbone” of humanitarian operations in Gaza.
ICJ decision marks ‘decisive victory’: South Africa
South African Ambassador Mathu Joyini said the events of the past few months in Gaza have illustrated that Israel is acting contrary to its international law obligations, including those in terms of the Genocide Convention. The ICJ’s recent order on South Africa’s request for provisional measures in its case against Israel determined that its actions are “plausibly genocidal”.
These measures are directly binding on Israel, she said, adding that there is clearly no credible basis for Israel to continue to claim that its military actions are in full compliance with international law.
“The decision by the court marks a decisive victory for the international rule of law and a significant milestone in the search for justice for the Palestinian people,” she said.
Following the court’s order, States are now on notice of the existence of a serious risk of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza, imposing an obligation on all nations to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions, which are also considered to be plausibly genocidal, she said.
“Unfortunately, in the days since the court’s decision, we have seen the Israeli Government continue its illegal actions in violation of the court order,” she said, adding that South Africa will continue to do everything within its power to preserve the existence of the Palestinian people as a group, to end all acts of apartheid and genocide against them and to walk with them towards the realization of their collective right to self-determination.
Welcoming the UN’s swift action in investigating allegations against UNRWA staff, South Africa remained extremely concerned about announcement of funding cuts to the agency, she said, reiterating the call for those donors to reconsider their decisions.
Israel ‘must comply’ with world court measures: Palestine
Ambassador Riyad Mansour of the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the UN recalled the “sobering” briefing by relief chief Mr. Griffiths and applauded the “relentless efforts” by UN humanitarians to bring an end to the catastrophe.
He said that the ICJ provisional ruling had “offered a resounding rebuke” to those who claimed that the case of genocide against Israel was meritless and baseless.
“The Court also dismissed the premise that somehow Israel by its very nature would be above the law and could not be accused of committing the crime of genocide,” he added.
He urged everyone to “concentrate” on the provisional measures adopted by the Court, urging them “read it, study it, and re-read” it to know what the measures are and “not what the illusions in the minds of some, of what is not in it”.
“It is crystal clear, that the provisional measures adopted by the Court are binding, and Israel must comply with them,” he said.
He noted 13 Security Council members had voted for an immediate ceasefire and 153 Member States also supported the call at the General Assembly.
“It would be criminal not to act to put an end to this war of atrocities”, with the ICJ now recognizing the risk of genocide, he said.
Mr. Mansour said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken like a “true war criminal” when the Israeli premier said “no one will stop us, not the Hague, not the axis of evil and not anyone else.”
No exceptions to accountability for Gaza crimes: Algeria
Amar Bendjama, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Algeria, said the recent ICJ decision “reaffirms” that the time of impunity has come to an end.
“The United Nations and the international community have committed to ensure that no criminal escapes sanction and accountability,” he said, stating that Israel should not be an exception to this rule.
“It is of the utmost importance to guarantee accountability in order to protect future generations from atrocities such as those being committed today in Gaza,” he said, stressing that the provisional measures imposed by the UN world court must be implemented to protect Palestinian people from genocide.
He stressed that Israel, as the occupying Power, must immediately comply with the provisional measures agreed upon by the court.
“It is incumbent upon the international community to ensure Israel fully complies with those measures,” he said.
Council must push for immediate ceasefire: China
China’s Ambassador, Zhang Jun, said the international community has made strong appeals for a ceasefire, and the ICJ has taken forceful action.
Now, it is time for the Security Council to take further action to safeguard justice, save lives and achieve peace, he said.
The ICJ’s provisional measures are a strong response to the need to protect civilians, he continued, adding that China calls for greater diplomatic efforts and an international conference on peace, together with Palestine’s full membership of the United Nations.
Noting the alleged involvement of UNRWA staff members in the 7 October terror attacks in Israel, he said China supports an impartial and objective investigation.
However, the action of a few should not divert attention from the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the need for a two-State solution, he stated.
“We call on the major donors to reconsider their decision to halt UNRWA funding and to continue to support it during the investigation,” he said.
Allegations against UNRWA staff should not discredit entire agency: Russia
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said US-led funding cuts to UNRWA are taking place against a “tragic humanitarian backdrop”, and the investigation into allegations against agency staff must consider information coming from both Israel and Palestinian sources.
Suspicions levelled against 12 staff members “should not be used to discredit the entire structure of the agency” and undermine its key activities in providing support to millions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in neighbouring Arab countries.
He said the Council could not allow UNRWA to run out of funds.
Particularly alarming is the “provocative rhetoric” of a number of representatives of the Israeli leadership, who call for the elimination of UNRWA presence in the enclave and for the forced displacement of Palestinians, he said, adding that such a scenario should not be implemented “under any circumstances”.
It is unfortunate that under the current conditions, the UN Security Council has so far been unable to adopt a single decision demanding an end to violence due to the position of one delegation – the United States, which is giving Israel carte blanche to continue the collective punishment of the Palestinians, he said.
It is clear that the spiral of violence in Gaza will continue until the “long-standing injustice” underlying the conflict has been eliminated and the Palestinian people can realize the right to create their own independent State.
Only a “balanced approach rooted in international law” can lead to sustainable peace, he said.