FROM AGGREY MUTAMBO
BY STELLA CHERONO
Kenya has called for diplomatic negotiations with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to find a solution to the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine.
In its recent call on both sides to lay down their arms, the country warns that the resurgence of violence between Israel and Palestine will make it more difficult for them to find a two-state solution.
In a statement delivered to the United Nations Security Council on Sunday evening, Dr. Martin Kimani, Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said violence would likely spawn generations who annoy one another and make it difficult to address the root causes of the conflict.
Dr. Kimani spoke during a virtual, open Council debate on the Middle East, focusing on the situation in Gaza, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
He said the country opposes illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory and called for an immediate ceasefire and cessation of violence as a first step in a renewed pursuit of peace.
The envoy also said that the escalation of violence in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the West Bank and Gaza Strip – besides claiming lives – undone progress towards the ultimate goal of lasting and secure peace.
“We are concerned that this recent episode of violence, and especially the touching of religious sites, will fuel extremism and hatred and lead to a further erosion of the moderate middle ground on which the harsh compromises necessary for lasting peace can be made,” said Dr. Kimani.
He noted that Kenya condemns violent unrest and the exploitation of such anger by extremist groups.
The envoy went on to say that in highly emotional situations, the police and military should welcome de-escalation, protect lives and avoid the demolition of civil infrastructure.
“Kenya supports all ongoing international and regional peace efforts. We demand that community leaders, business and civil society in Israel and Palestine advocate ceasefire and dialogue. “
Dr. Kimani said Kenya supports efforts by China, Norway and Tunisia to deliver a timely, clear and balanced Security Council statement that could help de-escalate the violence and aid a return to peace mediation.
Kenya wants the dialogue and negotiations to be guided by Council Resolution 2334 and Dr. Kimani says it is important to adhere to the agreed status quo on Jerusalem.
Council Resolution 2334, adopted in 2016, calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” and to “fully comply with all legal obligations in this regard”.
Two Palestinian militant groups – Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – fired rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel on May 10, hitting several homes and a school.
Israel retaliated with air strikes against Gaza, targeting several apartment buildings and a news office building.
The Israeli air strikes killed 10 members of an extended family and destroyed the 13-story building in the Gaza Strip that houses Qatar-based Al Jazeera television and The Associated Press news agency. Palestinian militants fired back missiles.
Since May 10, Israeli air and artillery strikes in the Gaza Strip have killed 145 people, including 41 children. Palestinian armed groups have fired at least 2,300 rockets at Israel.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Saturday he was “upset” by civilian casualties in Gaza and “deeply concerned” by Israel’s strike in a building where the international media are located.
But Israel claims it hits Hamas, which it accuses of firing rockets at them.
“The hostility that creates the kind of violence that occurs today only creates more violence and more generations born in hostilities whose roots are too old to uproot,” said Dr. Kimani the meeting.
“This dark moment calls for a renewed vision of peace based on the recognition that the current course will only lead to further destruction of life and hope.”
Kenya, a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has often supported a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict based on the maps that marked their areas from 1967 onwards.
Dr. Kimani said violence would “reverse” security advances in the region and called for the resumption of diplomatic negotiations that respect Resolution 2334.
The resolution passed in 2016 declared the evictions of Israel to be illegal and not protected by international law. It was approved by all council members at the time, but the US abstained. However, Israel disregarded the resolution.
It was the first time since the violence began that the Council agreed to speak in session.
Last week, members failed to make a joint statement following the US veto. After Sunday’s chaired session by China, a draft statement prepared by China, Tunisia and Norway was due to be circulated later that night. But whether all members could agree to a joint appeal was a wait-and-see matter.
At the Council on Sunday, Palestine said the Council was sitting on its hands as “the international consensus that you all helped to shape and defend is being shattered before our eyes”.
“The alternative that Israel has chosen is apartheid. And one day even the Council will no longer be able to deny this, ”said Dr. Riyad Mansour, Palestine Permanent Observer at the United Nations.
“Act now to end the aggression and attack on our people, our homes [and] our country. Act now so that freedom can rule, not apartheid. “
The dispute began in early May after a group of Palestinian families were evicted from what they claim is their ancestral home. The parcels in parts of East Jerusalem have been the subject of litigation between Palestinians and Israelis in Israeli courts since the 1970s.
Israel’s Permanent Representative Gilad Erdan warned the council not to send a “disturbing message by buying Hamas propaganda”.
Erdan spoke to the council about the fact that Hamas, the Palestinian movement that governs Gaza, is attacking Israel and hiding behind civilians, even in structures that house media houses.
Attempts to compare Israel and Hamas are factually, legally, and morally wrong. Hamas targets civilians. Israel targets terrorists.
“Israel uses its rockets to protect its children, Hamas uses children to protect its rockets,” Erdan said.
Israel was heavily condemned on Saturday after cutting down an office building owned by Al-Jazeera, the BBC and the Associated Press. It has been argued that the building housed the Hamas intelligence unit.
Despite calling for a ceasefire, Erdan proposed that his country would not give in and asked the council to support the so-called war on terror.
“Members of the United Nations Security Council today have a choice of supporting a more peaceful future by calling for the demilitarization of Gaza and insisting on an authority in Gaza that invests in the welfare of the people of Gaza rather than the destruction of Gaza State of Israel. “
During the open debate, councilors called on Israel to use “reasonable” force in retaliation against Hamas. The US, UK and France also called for de-escalation.
“The United States has made it clear that we are ready to provide our support and good offices if the parties seek a ceasefire because we believe that Israelis and Palestinians alike have the right to live in safety,” said Linda Thomas -Greenfield, USA Ambassador to the UN.
“We call on all parties to avoid actions that undermine a peaceful future. This includes avoiding incitement, violent attacks and terrorist attacks as well as evictions – also in East Jerusalem – demolitions and the construction of settlements east of the 1967 lines. And it is critical that all parties maintain and respect the historical status quo at the holy sites. “
[email protected]com and [email protected]