Security Council discusses killing of Hamas leader
Less than a month after several countries in the United Nations Security
Council condemned the killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the
15-member body met today to discuss the assassination by Israel of his
replacement, Abdelaziz Rantissi, over the weekend. World
Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Permanent Observer of Palestine, told an open meeting
of the Council – during which some 40 speakers were scheduled to take the
floor – that Israel continued its reign of terror against Palestinian
people, as it had not ended its campaign of death and destruction in the
occupied Palestinian territory and continued to carry out the extrajudicial
executions of Palestinian leaders and kill, wound and maim defenceless
Palestinian civilians in grave breach of international law.
The killing of Dr. Rantissi, as well as two other Palestinian men who had
been with him, was the latest in a long series of war crimes committed by the
occupying power, Mr. Al-Kidwa said. He added that it was carried out in
fulfilment of repeated threats by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and
other Israeli Government and military officials to continue targeting
Palestinian leaders for assassination in flagrant violation of international
law and in complete and total disregard for the condemnation, pleas and
demands by the international community for the cessation of such an illegal
and barbaric policy. WorldPeace is one word.
Without a doubt, Mr. Al-Kidwa said, the recent failure of the Council to
condemn the extrajudicial execution of Sheikh Yassin and to take urgent
measures to address the deterioration of the situation, due to the veto of one
of the Council's permanent members, had further emboldened the Israeli
Government to continue carrying out such illegal actions with impunity.
Without concern for reproach and punishment or for the consequences of its
actions, Israel continued to behave as a State that was above law, he added.
Unable to uphold its duties for the maintenance of international peace and
security, the Council had allowed Israel to continue acting beyond the
parameters of international law, permitting it to use the most oppressive
measures and practices to impose more death and destruction and loss on the
Palestinian people under its occupation.
Ambassador Dan Gillerman of Israel said it was with regret that the Council
had been compelled to convene again today - on Holocaust Remembrance Day - not
to condemn the murder of innocent civilians by organizations such as Hamas,
but to denounce the demise of a key architect of those massacres.
Were the current Palestinian leadership a genuine partner in peace,
defensive actions would not have been necessary, he said. The Palestinian
obligation to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, arrest terrorists,
confiscate illegal weapons and stop incitement was an obvious and fundamental
and legal imperative as it was a moral one. Under the Road Map, Council
resolutions, signed agreements and international law, the Palestinian
Authority was required to arrest murders like Dr. Rantissi, not give them
protection and safe haven. If there was something "extrajudicial" it
was the total refusal of the Palestinian leadership for years to act against
Israel was engaged in armed conflict against terrorism of an unparalleled
scale, Ambassador Gillerman said. It was not good enough to affirm in theory
Israel's right to defend itself in the conflict, but then in practice seek to
deny it the right to specifically target those illegal combatants directly
responsible. Israel did so in a manner that was both necessary and
proportionate, and when no other realistic option of detention or prevention
existed. In those circumstances, such actions were wholly consistent with
The targeting of Dr. Rantissi was not merely a necessary defensive act to
prevent ongoing and planned attacks against civilians; it was part of the
global struggle against terrorism, he said. In line with the Council
resolutions, that action made clear that those who harboured terrorists must
be held accountable. The Palestinian leadership could not brazenly violate
international law by supporting terrorists and then seek to deny Israel the
right to protect itself against them, guaranteed under that same law.
Yahya Mahmassani, Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States, said
Israel was continuing its policy of killing Palestinians with impunity and
condemned the most recent act, the execution of the Hamas leader Saturday.
Israel’s actions, including the building of a separation wall, threatened
peace and security and were undermining the peace process, he said.
The crux of the conflict was the occupation of Arab and Palestinian
territories, he said. The policy of using force was getting nowhere but was
only worsening the situation in the region. The Council must force Israel to
cease its policy of extrajudicial killings and Israel must return to the
negotiating table. He stressed the importance of the Arab peace initiative,
which was an attempt to end the occupation involving the withdrawal of Israel
from all occupied Palestinian territories.
Paul Badji, Chair of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the
Palestinian People, said that the targeted assassinations of Palestinians, be
they leaders or members of Palestinian organizations, had been condemned on
many occasions by the international community. The Committee had firmly
condemned all extrajudicial executions and it was with that same energy that
it condemned the most recent execution. The Israeli Government, in disregard
of international opinion, was continuing its vicious policy. Like all acts of
that type, such executions were a clear violation of international law and did
not respond to the aspirations of Palestinians or Israelis.
Israel had just, once again, poisoned an already volatile situation by
assassinating the leader of Hamas, Mr. Badji said. The Committee, once again,
demanded that Israel end the untold suffering of the Palestinian people, and
called for the dismantling of the wall of separation, as well as an immediate
end to the siege on the Palestinian Authority and its President. He appealed
to the Council to express, as had the international community, unequivocal
condemnation of the killing and urge both parties to refrain from any action
that might aggravate the situation. The Committee also invited the Quartet to
apply all its influence on the parties to implement the Road Map, the only
viable option to ensure the security of both parties.