In comments to the United Nations Security Council earlier Tuesday, Guterres called for an immediate cease-fire and decried “clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing in Gaza.”
The Council failed to adopt two previous draft resolutions addressing the escalation. The first from Russia calling for an immediate ceasefire, failed to get enough votes, while a Brazilian draft was vetoed by the United States. Although it called for humanitarian pauses for aid access, the US determined objected to the fact it did not mention Israel’s right to self defence.
He said: “The attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum, with the Palestinian people being subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation, during which they saw their land devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced; their homes demolished, and their hopes for a political solution vanishing.” “However, the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas,” he added. “And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” he said, emphasizing: “Even war has rules.”
The UN chief was addressing a special session of the Security Council to discuss the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza. So far, there has been no agreement on any action at the Security Council, to alleviate the suffering of civilians caught up in the spiraling conflict between Hamas militants, who control the enclave of over two million Palestinians.
The session was addressed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Catherine Colonna France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Syria’s Representative Al Haka Dindi, Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani of Qatar, Lebanon’s Representative, Amir Saied Iravani, Iran’s ambassador, Eltaher Salem Elbaour, the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs for Libya,Retno Marsudi, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sameh Shoukry Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, China’s Ambassador Zhang Jun, Vasily Nebenzya Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Tom Tugendhat the UK’s Minister for Security , Maura Viera Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister Eli Cohen, Riyad al-Maliki Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, Lynn Hastings UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland.
Secretary-General Guterres underscored the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, “to ease epic suffering, make the delivery of aid easier and safer and facilitate the release of hostages”.
Soon after the inconclusive session of the Security Council, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to resign.
The envoy accused Guterres of “expressing an understanding” for the “terrorism and murder” of Hamas’October 7 attacks on Israel. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, as well as by Germany and the EU among others.
Ambassador Erdan took the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, and said said Guterres’ comments meant he was “not fit to lead the UN.”
“I call on him to resign immediately,” Erdan wrote. “There is no justification or point in talking to those who show compassion for the most terrible atrocities committed against the citizens of Israel and the Jewish people. There are simply no words.”
The UN chief’s remarks also angered Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who pointed his finger at Guterres and raised his voice to recount graphic accounts of civilians, including young children, who were murdered on October 7.
“Mr Secretary-General, in what world do you live?” Cohen said. “Definitely, this is not our world.”
Cohen canceled a planned meeting with Guterres after the clash.
“I will not meet with the UN Secretary-General. After October 7th there is no room for a balanced approach. Hamas must be wiped off the face of the planet,” Cohen wrote on social media.
Secretary Blinken in his speech said Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people and Palestinian civilians are not to blame for the “carnage” committed by the militants.
He also underscored the vital need to protect civilians, adding that Israel has the “right and the obligation” to defend itself and “the way it does so, matters.”
Riyad al-Maliki Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine stated that the Security Council and the international community has a duty and an obligation to save lives.
“Continued failure at this [Security] Council is inexcusable,” he stressed.
Maura Viera Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil underscored that under International Humanitarian Law, Israel as the occupying power “has the legal and moral obligation” to protect the population of Gaza.
Catherine Colonna France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs said it is “high time” for the Council to shoulder its duty to condemn Hamas’ attack in Israel. Indeed, all civilian lives must be protected she stressed.
Tom Tugendhat the UK’s Minister for Security expressed resolute support Israel’s right to self-defence. At the same time he recognized that Palestinians are suffering, noting that the UK has committed an extra $37 million to support civilians in Gaza.
Vasily Nebenzya Russia’s ambassador to the UN said it was unfortunate the meeting was taking place on UN Day against the backdrop of “unprecedented” violence that has caused “catastrophic” casualties on both sides, with Russians among the victims.
The “terrible acts” of 7 October and the “tragic events” that followed were the result of years of “destructive positions” that Washington had taken, accusing the US of sabotaging potential solutions to the protracted conflict in the region.