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Source: United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)
Human Rights Council
17 April 2008


Press Release

Statement on situation in Gaza and West Bank
by Special Rapporteur on human rights
in the occupied Palestinian territories

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, John Duggard, issued the following statement today:

"The blood-letting in Gaza, and to a lesser extent, the West Bank continues. On Wednesday 16 April, around 20 Palestinians were killed in Israeli military operations. The majority of those killed were civilians and five were children. On the same day three Israeli soldiers were killed.

How long is this madness to continue without serious international intervention? It has become clear to many responsible persons with experience of the conflict, both in Israel and elsewhere, that only direct negotiations or talks between the real parties involved - Israel and Hamas - can stop the killings.

Israel's unwillingness to talk to Hamas is understandable, given Hamas' hostility to the State of Israel. But there is no reason why the United Nations, acting through the Security Council or the Secretary-General, should not intervene and assert its role as mediator. This is a role that the United Nations has traditionally played, even where one of the parties has been labelled as "terrorist". It is the responsibility of the United Nations, as the ultimate guardian of human rights and international peace, to open lines of communication between Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and to bring them to the negotiating table. Such a step would also contribute to the advancement of Palestinian national unity - another area which the United Nations has to date failed to address.

The right to life is the most precious and important human right. The United Nations, acting through the Security Council or the Secretary-General, must do its utmost to protect the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. Surely it is not too much to ask of the Security Council, and if it cannot act, the Secretary-General, to protect human life, even if it means talking to a group of which it may disapprove politically. "

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