Monday, January 12, 2009

South African President Says United Nations Security Council Partly To Blame For Gaza Siege

JOHANNESBURG 9 January 2009 Sapa


The UN Security Council is partly to blame for the current crisis in the Middle East, President Kgalema Motlanthe said in an interview published on Friday.

"The problem is that if a country has powerful friends on the
Security Council they can sometimes act with impunity," Motlanthe told the weekly Mail and Guardian newspaper.

"All you have to do is listen to the minister of foreign affairs or defence of Israel to know that you are dealing with people who believe they can cock a snook with impunity."

He said the UN, and the UN Security Council in particular, needed "urgent reform" so that it could become more representative of the world's population.

"If you go back to the original mandate of the United Nations, you will realise that it was meant to give equal treatment and protection to even the smallest and weakest countries."

Asked whether he believed the dominance of the United States on the council should be dealt with, Motlanthe replied: "Yes, because the veto powers enjoyed by some on this council in fact also promote selfish and sectional interests, which is contrary to the collective and principled mandate of the UN."

Motlanthe described the current clashes in Gaza as "sheer savagery".

"The killing of women, children and innocent people leaves all decent human beings with a deep sense of revulsion.

"But when we say that there must be peace in the Middle East it must be based on the acceptance that the Palestinians and the Israeli’s have a right to mutually exist.

"The first step towards peace is an urgent and mutual cessation of hostilities. However, as a country, we will only act through the mandate of the UN Security Council and not on our own," said Motlanthe.

Foreign news agencies reported on Friday that the UN Security
Council has called for an immediate ceasefire to end the conflict in Gaza that started two weeks ago.

The offensive has so far claimed 778 Palestinian lives - the
deadliest ever attack by Israel on the coastal strip, reported Agence France Presse.

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