PM rejects UN ceasefire calls; Ban warns Israel faces isolation

PM rejects UN ceasefire calls; Ban warns Israel faces isolation

Netanyahu protests failure to address Israel’s security concerns; UN chief says 'every refuge in Gaza has become a target'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Monday a statement by the UN Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In a telephone conversation, Netanyahu told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the UN statement favors Hamas and fails to address Israel’s security concerns.

“The Security Council Presidential Statement relates to the needs of a murderous terrorist organization that is attacking Israeli civilians and does not address Israel’s security needs, including the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip according to the principle laid down in the interim agreements with the Palestinians,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu added that the statement does not “does not refer to attacks on Israeli civilians, or to the fact that Hamas has turned the residents of Gaza into human shields and uses UN facilities to attack Israeli civilians.”

The prime minister noted that Israel had already accepted three ceasefire proposals, while Hamas violated them all. Netanyahu said that the IDF would conduct operations in the Strip until terror activity against Israeli citizens came to a halt.

“Israel will continue to deal with the terrorist tunnels, and this is only the first step in the demilitarization,” he said.

Netanyahu stated that the world must ensure that the entire Gaza Strip is demilitarized, and that international donations will not be funneled toward Hamas terrorism infrastructure.

“Instead of the funds of the international community serving the construction of terrorist tunnels for perpetrating large-scale attacks against Israeli civilians, the international community needs to act toward the demilitarization of Gaza.”

Earlier Monday, the UN secretary-general urged Israel and Hamas to build on a lull in fighting in Gaza to lay the groundwork for talks on a lasting peace. The appeal came a few hours after the UN Security Council called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

“As people around the world mark Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan and a time for overcoming differences, the Secretary-General calls on parties to build on the current calm,” Ban’s spokesman said.

The spokesman added that the suspension of fighting should be prolonged for an extra 24 hours in order to allow humanitarian efforts to continue. Ban further called for a restart of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians in order to bring an end to the ongoing conflict.

“The Secretary-General stresses that Israelis and Palestinians have a responsibility beyond ceasing the ongoing hostilities to start a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict,” the spokesman said.

“This is the only way finally to break the seemingly endless cycle of violence and suffering.”

Later, Ban criticized Hamas and Israel for failing to care for the well-being of their citizens through the continuation of hostilities.

Ban said that leaders on both sides were making decisions that resulted in civilian deaths was “morally wrong” and “not responsible.”

The UN chief also strongly condemned the alleged Israeli attack on an UNRWA facility that left 16 people dead on Thursday, saying that “every refuge has become a target,” and that it “raises serious questions about proportionality.”

The IDF said Sunday that an internal probe showed that the army shot at an empty schoolyard at the UNRWA school, injuring no one, and that it was not responsible for the 16 deaths.

Ban reiterated his call to end the violence, lift the blockade on Gaza, and end “nearly half a century of occupation.”

He went on to warn Israel that it may isolate itself internationally if it does not cooperate with the UN’s initiatives.

The United Nations is backing a bid by Egypt to broker a peace deal aimed at ending the latest flareup in the Hamas-controlled enclave that has left more than 1,000 Palestinians, many of them Hamas gunmen, and 43 Israeli soldiers dead.

Senior Palestinian officials told The Times of Israel Monday that a delegation of Fatah and Palestinian Authority officials is set to fly to Cairo in upcoming days for talks there with senior Hamas officials, in the presence of Egyptian representatives. The delegation is expected to discuss the ceasefire initiative that Cairo presented earlier in the conflict.

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