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from the Observer Mission for Palestine
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30 January 2004
***For Immediate Release***
30 January 2004
Ambassador Gillerman's Special Press Conference on The UN’s Lack of Response to Terrorism – Following the Homicide Bombing in Jerusalem
United Nations 30 January 2004--- Today, the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, Ambassador Dan Gillerman, convened a formal press conference at the United Nations in which he criticized the United Nations failure to provide an adequate response to a grave homicide attack perpetrated yesterday in central Jerusalem in which 10 people were killed and 50 wounded. Please find below Ambassador Gillerman’s statement to the press.
"As you know, yesterday was a very difficult day for Israelis, for Jews around the world and for all those who fight terrorism and hope for peace. At 9am yesterday morning a Palestinian Authority policeman from Bethlehem perpetrated a grave suicide attack on a crowded commuter bus in central Jerusalem killing ten people and wounding over 50, 10 of them seriously. The bomb was packed with metal balls, nails and bolts into order to affect maximum pain and injury on its victims and proved powerful enough to rip off one side of the bus and the back of its roof, lifting it 12 meters into the air and hundreds of meters from the site of the explosion. Limbs and body parts of victims were strewn throughout the area of the blast, creating a scene of indescribable carnage and horror.
The fact that a Palestinian Authority security official, charged with fighting Palestinian terrorism, was responsible for this brutal massacre only adds to the horror. Unfortunately, this is far from the first time that security personnel on the Palestinian Authority payroll were directly engaged in terrorist atrocities. This repugnant disregard for life and the officially sanctioned glorification of murder as martyrdom is the greatest enemy of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and of hopes of peace in the region.
The Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, a terrorist organization belonging to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, proudly claimed responsibility for this massacre, and it was praised by the terrorist groups Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad.
All this happened on a day when Israel received the bodies of three of its soldiers abducted by Hizbollah and the return of Israeli businessman Elhanan Tennenbaum, in exchange for the release of hundreds of terrorist operatives.
As you know, Israel has great respect for the Secretary-General and for his personal commitment and efforts for peace in the Middle East. The moral clarity of the Secretary-General in expressly condemning brutal acts of terrorism like yesterday’s attack is especially important. This is why we must express our disappointment and dismay at the response issued by the office of the Secretary-General to yesterday’s attack.
In the statement attributed to the Secretary-General following the attack, no mention is made of the Israeli victims slaughtered in the bombing. No mention is made of the dozens of wounded still lying in hospital beds recovering from devastating injuries. In fact, no specific reference is made to the attack at all, or to a condemnation, in any terms, of the terrorist perpetrators.
This is in distinct contrast to the tendency of the office of the Secretary General to issue statements of reprimand, with clear and specific detail, when Israel engages in defensive measures against terrorist operatives who callously target and hide behind civilians, endangering not only Israelis but Palestinians as well.
At a time like this, when brutal terrorism threatens citizens throughout the world it is important for world figures and the United Nations as a whole to call terror by its name and hold the leaders and regimes that sponsor terrorism accountable. Vague references to “those who resort to violence and terror that have claimed innocent lives in the region” are not sufficient.
Unfortunately, this mild statement by the Secretary-General follows a number of other troubling actions by Secretariat officials in recent months. The reluctance of the Secretary-General to assist in the adoption of a resolution on Antisemitism after being specifically requested to do so by the resolution’s sponsor; the preparation of a report on Israel’s security fence that failed to devote even one word to the terrorist threat that the fence is designed to protect against; the submission of a dossier of “relevant” documents to the International Court of Justice on the Security Fence issue, with a bias in the selection of documents that borders on the absurd. These events, coming from a Quartet member and sponsor of the Road Map, are in our view too troubling to pass without comment.
Israel makes a clear distinction between the political organs of the UN, where the double standard in the treatment of Israel is often clear, and the Secretariat that is required by the UN Charter to conduct itself impartially and without favor. As I said, Israel has the greatest respect for the Secretary-General, and his deep personal commitment and efforts for peace in the Middle East. It is because of that respect and high regard that we are disappointed.
Israel also shares the dream of the Secretary-General in a true and lasting peace in which two peoples will live side by side, each in their own State. But today, from my view behind the image of recently buried coffins and bereaved families and dismembered limbs, it is all the more critical to speak out with moral clarity against terrorists that deliberately murder innocent civilians in cold blood.
In order to ensure the Secretary-General’s dream, the international community, and the United Nations in particular, must issue a resounding condemnation of the terrorist violence and the organizations that perpetrator such atrocities, and hold them accountable for these crimes. To focus on the response to terrorism and not on the terrorism itself is unfair and harmful to the cause of peace.
Only a united and uncompromising stand against the perpetrators of these crimes can bring an end to the Palestinian strategy of terrorism and murder as required by the Road Map, and make political concessions and peace between the peoples of the region possible. Indifference to the continuing Palestinian policy of intransigence and terror, or rewarding one-sided Palestinian initiatives in the organs of the UN, can only embolden the terrorists and undermine efforts aimed at achieving a peaceful negotiated settlement".