French envoy blasts UN for not denouncing October 7 Hamas attacks

Nicolas de Riviere stresses France's unwavering commitment to Israel's security but says this does not absolve Israel from international law

A protester holds a sign up during a demonstration in Tel Aviv led by the Israeli families of hostages. Getty Images
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France’s top UN envoy, Nicolas de Riviere, on Tuesday criticised the Security Council and General Assembly for their failure to denounce the October 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas and other groups.

“It is unacceptable that the Security Council and the General Assembly have not yet been able to condemn the terrorist acts perpetrated by Hamas and other terrorist groups, on October 7,” Mr de Riviere told the Assembly.

He repeated France’s “unwavering commitment” to Israel's security but said that this does not absolve Israel from the responsibility of adhering to international law.

“Israeli operations [in Gaza] must cease,” Mr de Riviere stressed.

The Gaza crisis, he noted, requires the Security Council to be able to “express clear demands on all aspects of the crisis: humanitarian, security and political”.

Israel launched its Gaza offensive after Hamas-led militants stormed across its southern border, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting about 250 others, according to Israeli authorities.

More than 100 hostages were released last year in exchange for 240 Palestinians jailed by Israel.

In response, Israel's assaults on Gaza have killed more than 30,600, mainly civilians, local health authorities say.

The nearly five months of fighting has left much of Gaza in ruins and created a worsening humanitarian catastrophe, with many, especially in the devastated northern region, facing starvation.

South Africa’s ambassador to the UN Mathu Joyini asked at what point certain nations in the 193-member General Assembly would finally accept that “far too many innocent lives have been lost”.

“Do some of us want to continue to believe that we need to allow Israel more time to justify its so-called right to defend itself against a population it illegally occupies?” Ms Joyini asked.

Displaced Palestinians seek shelter in Gaza graveyards – video

Displaced Palestinians seek shelter in Gaza graveyards

Displaced Palestinians seek shelter in Gaza graveyards

“There appears to be an Orwellian justification that some are more equal than others, and therefore, some countries are above the law and cannot be sanctioned or stopped from their merciless persecution and genocidal acts.”

Brazil’s UN ambassador Sergio Franca Danese criticised the council for its lack of action on Gaza over claims that advocating a ceasefire would compromise negotiations.

On February 20, the US vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, with Washington envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield saying the resolution, proposed by Algeria, would hurt negotiations now taking place in Cairo.

“Demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring about peace,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said.

Israel and Hamas are under mounting pressure to agree to a ceasefire in Gaza, particularly with Ramadan approaching.

The US, Qatar and Egypt have spent weeks trying to broker an agreement in which Hamas would release up to 40 hostages in return for a six-week ceasefire, the release of Palestinian detainees and a major flow of humanitarian aid to the enclave.

“The council cannot be prevented to meet its responsibilities based on non-fulfilling promises of direct talks,” Mr Danese said.

“Simply awaiting a solution based on direct negotiations, while unceasing ruthless military operations continue to kill unarmed civilians and target protected objects, implies complicity with death and destruction.”

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Updated: March 05, 2024, 10:59 PM