December 1, 2023
JAKARTA – The world must “call a spade a spade” and admit that Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip have violated international laws, Indonesia’s top diplomat said during a day-long debate in New York, on the unceasing violence between Tel Aviv and Gaza’s ruling militant group, Hamas.
Efforts must go beyond scoring a short-lived cease-fire, said Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi at a meeting at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday, New York time, following her tour last week to four permanent members of the UN Security Council to make a similar appeal.
She demanded a guarantee for unhindered humanitarian assistance, a permanent cease-fire, Israel’s accountability and the renewal of the Palestine-Israel peace process.
Dozens of diplomats from across the globe convened at the UNGA on Tuesday to discuss the Middle Eastern conflict, which started on Oct. 7 when Hamas launched a surprise assault against Israel, and was responded to with a massive reprise by Tel Aviv.
The meeting came amid persistent divisions between countries calling for a permanent cease-fire and those siding with Israel, as well as the newest reports on the casualties in the Gaza Strip.
Retno, who last week traveled to Beijing, Moscow, London and Paris with a band of foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to demand a stronger international call against Israel and unhindered access for humanitarian aid, hammered the message once again at the UNGA.
“Can I ask, is what Israel is doing consistent with international law? Is it consistent with international humanitarian law?” she said in her speech. “We must call a spade a spade. What has taken place in Gaza are clear violations of international humanitarian law and the failure to act may equal complicity.”
Highlighting Israel’s attacks against hospitals, refugee camps and places of worship, Retno made a firm reminder of the rules of war and called for the scaling up of humanitarian aid, including support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the largest UN agency in Gaza.
“We must also call out double standards in the application of international law which seriously undermine the sanctity of the law itself,” Retno said, referring to the West’s observed bias in favor of Israel, which has blocked international intervention for weeks on end.
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said over 15,000 Palestinians had been killed in the Gaza Strip, alongside 30,000 injured and 1.8 million civilians internally displaced.
Meanwhile, in Israel, over 1,200 people including foreign nationals have been killed in the past seven weeks.
“This is a full-fledged war against Palestine and its people,” Mansour said.
The Tuesday meeting also saw Egypt submitting a draft resolution on Syria’s Golan Heights, which has been the ground of tens of illegal Israeli settlements for decades and subject to international rejection bar a number of Israel’s allies who view the area of Southwest Syria as Israeli.
Indonesia, along with 90 other countries such as China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa, voted in favor of the resolution, which demanded Israel withdraw from Golan Heights, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry. The US, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Israel voted against the resolution.
Israel’s representative at the meeting said the UN has been spewing false narratives that are “the textbook definition of anti-Semitism”, while Washington’s envoy suggested that “one-sided resolutions only perpetuate long-standing lines of divisions”.
Previously, several OIC foreign ministers said, as reported by Reuters, that a debate on Palestine at the UN Security Council was imminent, where Retno and several other envoys would pressurize key countries to pass a concrete statement after failing four times to do so.