Prince Saud Al-Faisal’s statement to the UN Security Council regarding Gaza

January 6, 2009

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal’s address to the UN Security Council on Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, New York, January 6, 2009

Your Excellencies:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We meet today as the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip are under continued Israeli bombardment. This fierce aggression has killed hundreds and injured thousands and spread destruction and devastation and instilled fear in children, women and the elderly.

The current Israeli escalation by launching massive air, ground and sea offensives is increasing the human tragedy and prolonging the killing and destruction. The Israeli Operation Cast Lead, which uses the latest human destructive weaponry, on helpless people under siege, continues to expand the tragedy. It appears that the killing and destruction caused by the air attack over the past days has not satisfied the Israelis or even convinced your esteemed Council to move urgently and immediately to prevent more killings, as it is expected from your Council in this dangerous situation.

The call for this meeting comes within the framework of the anticipated role of the Security Council at this critical moment and in accordance with the United Nations Charter, and I quote "preserving international peace and security" end quote.

The duty of the Security Council, when a conflict leads to fighting, is to halt it at the earliest possible time. The Israeli aggression on Gaza already is entering its eleventh day of mayhem, yet the Council has not taken any action to carry out its responsibilities and stop this aggression. That certainly raises serious questions about the credibility of the Security Council and the whole system of international peace and security.

It is astonishing and surprising to notice the international community's complete silence regarding the massive Israeli assault on Gaza. Some even went as far as describing the assault on Gaza as an Israeli self-defense action. This is in stark contrast to the situation in Georgia, where the international community reacted to the crisis promptly and decisively to contain the situation, end the fighting and bring about the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Arab Palestinians blood is still being shed and no one knows where this will lead. What is certain is that it cannot be justified in any way.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

War no longer evokes glory and pride. It only evokes rage and condemnation by the international community. What is happening now in Gaza can only be described as a horrendous human crime, which will produce only more violence and extremism and a departure from the objective of peace and security, which Israel uses as a justification for its aggressive acts.

The security of Israel can only be achieved by the creation of a just peace that responds to the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Those rights have been recognized and acknowledged by international legitimacy, including resolutions issued by the Security Council; affirmed by the Geneva Conventions; and contained in all the agreements and initiatives presented to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, including the Arab Peace Initiative.

The fierce siege of the Palestinian people, and the closure of the passages is the full responsibility of Israel.

Israel violated the truce the two parties agreed to in June 2008 that called for a ceasefire in exchange for opening the passages and lifting the siege. The Palestinian side fulfilled its obligations under the agreement, whereas Israel continued its stranglehold on a million and half Palestinians in Gaza, in an immoral action and without response from the international community to this human tragedy.

As we refer to this painful reality, our objective is not to trigger unproductive arguments, but to describe the situation as it is, and work seriously towards a ceasefire that puts an end to the armed conflict which is causing death and destruction in Gaza as we speak. There is no way out of this crisis except through a clear and explicit resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and lifting of the siege.

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we, in the Arab League, present to the Security Council the resolution of the extraordinary meeting of the Council of the Arab League Foreign Ministers which was held in Cairo on December 31, 2008. This resolution presents a vision to resolve the crisis, based on an immediate halt of all military actions in Gaza; lifting the siege; opening the passages, and the termination of the policy of collective punishment imposed on the Palestinians, which led to this serious deterioration. This Arab proposal does not only aim at stopping the military operation, but also to deal with the causes that have led to it. The lifting of the siege, calming the situation, and the establishment of the necessary monitoring process will guarantee the permanence of the solution. All of that will meet Israeli security concerns and pave the way to resume the peace process and revive the negotiations in order to end the occupation and establish an independent and viable Palestinian state. Only this will guarantee the security of Israel, Palestine, and the security and stability of the region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Arab countries are committed to international law, the principle of international legitimacy, and the resolutions of the Security Council. Unfortunately, we are confronted with delays and procrastinations, and attempts to undermine the Arab countries peaceful efforts. Either the Security Council deals with our legitimate issues with seriousness and responsibility based on these principles, or we will be forced to turn our backs and consider what options present themselves.

At this moment, people are dying. Children are orphaned; parents are losing their loved ones for no reason except that they are there. Are you going to allow this to continue even for another hour?