Summary: today’s meeting on the resolution for tomorrow’s Special Session on the Gaza situation

•        Canada condemned Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel, saying that they are “the cause of the conflict,” that there have been “hundreds and hundreds of rocket attacks, which deliberately target civilians,” and that “first and foremost these rocket attacks must stop.” Canada expressed its concern about the failure of the resolution to clearly establish responsibility of both sides in the conflict, as well as its use of inflammatory language.

•        The EU (Czech Republic) expressed its hope that consensus will be reached, and proposed the necessary amendments to win the resolution its approval. The EU stated that its aim is to create a more balanced text that addresses the responsibilities of both sides, includes a call for an immediate cease-fire, acknowledges the peace process and the suffering on both sides, includes the rocket attacks against Israel in the text, and addresses humanitarian issues and measures to alleviate suffering.

•        Switzerland said that this is “a different situation than the one in the past couple of years” and expressed its strong desire to reach a consensus on the resolution, albeit with amendments.

•        Egypt condemned Israel’s “deliberate attack” on the UNRWA school, which amounted to the “targeted assassination” of more than 40 Palestinians, including many children. It proposed amendments to further bash Israel, including for the purported destruction of Palestinian cultural sites and the disallowing of journalists to enter Gaza.

•        A number of states wanted the language of the resolution to be even more inflammatory and one-sided. Algeria requested an additional paragraph to “express outrage at the killings of women and children carried out in full impunity” and that the word “massive” should be added to “grave violations” of human rights by Israel. South Africa wanted the word “systemic” added to this clause too.

•       South Africa condemned Israel for failing to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk (who has compared Israelis to Nazis and has a one-sided mandate to only investigate the abuses committed by Israel). South Africa called for a new, UN fact-finding mission of the special rapporteur with the support of the five UN experts on human rights law to report to the March session of the Human Rights Council. Switzerland supported the proposal for a fact-finding mission, saying that it should particularly focus on the attack on the UNRWA school. Pakistan and Monaco supported this Swiss proposal.

•        Cuba condemned Israel’s “large-scale aggression,” as well as the military assistance Israel receives from “international powers.” It said that it found some of the proposals from the EU and Canada to be unacceptable.

•       The inclusion of rocket attacks against Israel in the resolution was debated. Although Russia said that the rocket attacks were a “pretext” for the conflict, it also noted that Libya had circulated a document which makes reference to them so it did not see why they could not be included in the resolution, especially as it will help bring about consensus. Egypt and various other countries argued that it is acceptable to include the rocket attacks so long as it is mentioned that more Palestinians have been killed by Israel than Israelis killed by rocket attacks, and that Israel’s actions are “disproportionate.” Cuba stated that if rocket attacks against Israel are to be included, so should the “indiscriminate” use of mortar fire and cluster bombs by Israel. The characterization of Israel’s actions as “disproportionate” was repeated by Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Lebanon, Cuba, and a little more surprisingly by Mexico and Brazil.

•       Bangladesh stated that “the actions of a few Palestinians cannot be equated with the views of a government,” and condemned the “collective punishment” and “targeting of civilians” by Israel. It criticized the notion that the rocket attacks were the cause of the conflict, arguing that “unless the occupation ends, this situation will continue to happen and we will continue to have special sessions one after another” (thus tacitly justifying Hamas terrorism and ignoring the fact that Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005).

•        Lebanon made a virulently anti-Israel statement, saying: “The Israeli military machine does not distinguish between the unarmed, the elderly, and the handicap who are alone facing the canons in an uneven fight.”

•        The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees spoke about the need for there to be access to asylum for Palestinian refugees from Gaza.

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