CHICAGO: The UN held unprecedented unified sessions this week to address Israel’s violence against Palestinian civilians and Hamas intervention in the conflict, Ephrem Kossaify, the UN correspondent for Arab News, reported Wednesday.
Kossaify, whose reporting at the UN was cited by the prestigious Middle East Policy Council in an analysis of the conflict, explained that the Arab world and member nations were unified in condemning violence on both sides of the conflict.
They also focused on abuses by Israel against Palestinian civilians in Sheikh Jarrah, the East Jerusalem neighborhood, where this most recent conflict began.
Kossaify said that one of the leading voices in speaking out for the Palestinians at the UN was Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, who reflected a unified expression of concern from Arab world countries and said that Israel’s actions were in violation of the UN charter.
“When the president of the general assembly sent us the list of speakers for the emergency session that he called for, it was 110 speakers. We have never seen anything like this. In an emergency session, you have 15 or 20 speakers. You had 110 countries wanting to come,” Kossaify said.
“It was the first in-person meeting of the general assembly after one year of virtual meetings. So, it was a very, very strong event. I think what it did was remind the whole world, and the whole world reminded itself, that the Palestinian cause is central. And the centrality of the cause is not just for Palestinians but for every Arab, every Muslim and every human rights defender in the world. It was a huge event to see that. They had to cut it in half and we just had the second session yesterday.”
Kossaify said one of the strongest voices came from Prince Faisal, who traveled to New York to attend the UN session in person.
“Let us talk about Saudi Arabia. For example, Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan came over. He was here in person at the UN. He delivered a very quick, straight-to-the-point speech in which he actually came to the UN to remind the UN of its own charter,” Kossaify said.
“What are we talking about? This is the UN Charter. Excessive use of force is against that charter. Forcing people out of their homes is against that charter. Having an Apartheid regime is a contravention of international law, humanitarian law, and a threat to international peace and security. What this general assembly meeting showed is not only solving the Palestine problem, but it is also solving a huge security and crisis around the world.”
Kossaify said the focus of the UN’s meeting this week was on how the conflict started, not just on the one aspect of the conflict of rocket fire between Israel and Hamas.
The Israeli UN representative attacked all of the UN members calling them “hypocrites” for not saying that it started with Hamas firing rockets, Kossaify said. He added that “every other country and every other human rights defender said, ‘No, it all started in Sheikh Jarrah.’”
Kossaify said the UN leaders strongly condemned the intervention of Hamas in response to Israel’s targeting of Palestinian civilians in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.
“And we have to say that the condemnation of Hamas was just as loud. There was not a single sympathetic statement towards Hamas that we should also mention. That they have been condemned by every single country as well,” Kossaify said.
But member states argued that Israel’s response to Hamas’ intervention was “disproportionate” resulting in hundreds of Palestinian deaths and thousands of injuries.
Tens of thousands of protestors crowded around the UN protesting in support of the Palestinians, Kossaify said, a reflection of the hundreds of protests that also took place in cities across the US and around the world.
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