Shalev. 'We won't be ducks in shooting range'
Photo: Shahar Azran

Israel to UN: We'll continue Gaza op

Security Council discusses Arab bloc's demand for unilateral halt to military operation in Gaza, but session ends without vote on draft resolution. Israeli ambassador says Hamas responsible for Gazans' suffering

WASHINGTON – Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Prof. Gabriela Shalev said during a Security Council emergency discussion Wednesday night that Israel's citizens will not be "ducks on a shooting range".


Israel will continue its operation in Gaza as long as it needs to and will defend its citizens against terror, she added.


Talking to reporters after the session, Shalev said, "Israel feels the suffering of Gaza's residents, but Hamas, which uses the residents as a human shield, is to blame. We have warned Gaza's residents by phone and through leaflets to stay away from places where weapons are stored."


Shalev spoke before the Security Council members, who convened to discuss a draft resolution submitted by Libya, the Arab bloc's representative at the Council, demanding that Israel halt its military operation in the Gaza Strip immediately and unilaterally.


The session ended without a vote. Diplomats said negotiations would be held in coming days to try to reach an agreed text. Western delegates described the Arab-drafted resolution as unbalanced in its present form.


The draft resolution "strongly condemns all military attacks and the excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by Israel, the occupying power, which have led to the death and injury of scores of innocent Palestinian civilians, including women and children."


It calls for "an immediate ceasefire and for its full respect by both sides."


It also calls on Israel "to scrupulously abide by all of its obligations under international humanitarian law, particularly under the Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in time of war."


The British and American ambassadors to the United Nations said the resolution needs to be amended before possible adoption because it fails to mention the ongoing Hamas rocket attacks on Israel that motivated the current Israeli military operation.


"This resolution as currently circulated by Libya is not balanced and therefore, as currently drafted, it is not acceptable to the United States," US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters.


He said the United States is working very hard to achieve an immediate cease-fire implemented by both sides — but he said Washington has not seen "any evidence" yet that Hamas is willing to end its rocket attacks on southern Israel.


Sudan's UN ambassador Abdalmahmud Abdalhaleem Mohamad and Arab League representative Yahya Mahmassani said the Council would likely meet at the foreign minister-level in the coming days, with at least eight Arab countries participating.


'Barbaric aggression' clause removed

Foreign ministers from Arab League nations meeting in Cairo Wednesday called for a binding UN resolution requiring an immediate halt to hostilities.


A delegation headed by chief Saudi diplomat Prince Saud al-Faisal with foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Syria, a Palestinian representative and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa will likely come to UN headquarters to argue the Arab League's case, Mohamad said.


The Sudanese ambassador said a Security Council meeting with these representatives could be held Sunday or Monday.


The draft resolution also calls "for the immediate and sustained opening of the border crossings of the Gaza Strip," and the resumption of humanitarian aid deliveries to its population.


It "stresses the need for restoration of calm in full in order to pave the way for resolving all issues in a peaceful manner within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."


The text appears to have been amended since an initial version was released to the press in Cairo. It no longer includes a call for Israel to stop its "barbaric" aggression, lift its blockade of Gaza and stop the "collective punishment" of the Palestinian people.


AFP, AP and Reuters contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 01.01.09, 04:46
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