U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.(REUTERS)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.(REUTERS)

Israel-Palestine conflict: ‘Appalling’, ‘war crimes’ echo at UNSC meet

Opening the 15-member council’s first public meeting on the conflict, Guterres said the UN is “actively engaging all sides towards an immediate ceasefire”.
Agencies | , New York
PUBLISHED ON MAY 17, 2021 03:09 AM IST

N secretary-general Antonio Guterres told the UN Security Council on Sunday that hostilities in Israel and Gaza were “utterly appalling” and called for an end to fighting.

Opening the 15-member council’s first public meeting on the conflict, Guterres said the UN is “actively engaging all sides towards an immediate ceasefire”.

The council met privately twice last week over the violence, but has been unable to agree on a public statement because the US - a strong ally of Israel - did not believe it would be helpful, diplomats said.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki accused Israel of “war crimes” as he urged international pressure at the UNSC session. “Some may not want to use these words - war crimes and crimes against humanity - but they know they are true,” Maliki told the virtual session.

China said the US had blocked its efforts for “strong action” - and invited Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. “Regrettably, simply because of the obstruction of one country, the security council hasn’t been able to speak with one voice,” foreign minister Wang Yi said.

The US has insisted it is working behind the scenes and that a UN statement could backfire. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy to the UN, stopped short of insisting on a ceasefire and said the Biden administration was in touch with all sides including Qatar, which has close ties with Hamas, and Egypt, which has a peace deal with Israel and borders Gaza.

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