Palestinian minister warns of 'disrespect' in Gaza
The Palestinian foreign minister says Israel and Hamas responded to the Security Council's call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza with "total disrespect" and he urged the UN's most powerful body to enforce its demand.world Updated: Jan 10, 2009 13:17 IST
The Palestinian foreign minister says Israel and Hamas responded to the Security Council's call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza with "total disrespect" and he urged the UN's most powerful body to enforce its demand. "We cannot really wait until Israel will complete its mission while it really continues killing Palestinians, not on a daily basis but on an hourly basis," Riad Malki told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday.
Malki is foreign minister for the Palestinian Authority, which was driven out of Gaza by rival Hamas in 2007.
If the Security Council doesn't react in the next 48 hours, he said, Arab foreign ministers who came to the Security Council to help draft the resolution "will have a reaction." He did not elaborate.
Hopes dimmed that the resolution approved on Thursday would end the worst fighting in decades in Gaza after Israel rejected it as "not practical" and Hamas dismissed it, complaining that it had not been consulted.
"Both have responded to the resolution in the same way, in total disrespect," Malki said.
He said the US, Britain and France worked hard to ensure that the resolution did not give Hamas, which has called for the destruction of the Jewish state, equal status with Israel, a sovereign nation.
"Israel, by its behavior and its attitude, really has aligned itself to the same level of Hamas," Malki said.
Israel launched the offensive on December 27, saying it wanted to end eight years of rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel by Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the US and the European Union.
The air and ground offensive in Gaza has killed around 780 Palestinians, at least half of them civilians, according to Gaza health officials, and 13 Israelis.
With civilian casualties mounting and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza increasingly desperate for food, water, fuel and medical assistance, international pressure for a cease-fire has intensified.
But Malki said he had seen no efforts since the resolution was approved to implement it.
The Security Council should react by "enforcing the resolution, and if Israel refuses, then they have really to start thinking about sanctions," he said.
The resolution "calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza." While the "call" is tantamount to a demand on the parties, Israel's troops won't be required to pull out until there is a "durable" cease-fire.
The resolution was not drafted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which is militarily enforceable, but Malki said all U.N. member states should abide by such a resolution.
The United States was the only member of the council to abstain on the resolution, which surprised Malki because "we were told the Americans were going to vote for it."
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the US supported the resolution but abstained because it wanted to give time to an Egyptian-French initiative aimed at achieving a temporary cease-fire and then a permanent truce between Israel and Hamas. Malki said there has been no announcement of any movement on the Egyptian initiative, which Rice strongly endorsed and which he said is included in the resolution.
"I do expect that the United States should really take a more clear stand and announce that it's time right now to try really to protect the spirit of the resolution and to find ways how to make sure that that resolution is really respected and implemented by all parties," he said.