Sunday, December 10, 2023

Hamas assault does not justify collective punishment of Palestinians: UN chief

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said that Hamas’ attacks against Israel do not justify the collective punishment of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Guterres responded to claims made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with CNN. The Israeli leader said Guterres laid blame on Israel and should instead be demanding that Hamas obey international law. But the UN chief insisted that he has condemned Hamas “since the very beginning” of the crisis.

“But there is a basic principle for me, and that is that Hamas is not the Palestinian people,” he stated.

“And you need to be able to distinguish Hamas from the Palestinian people. And so you cannot use the horrific things that the Hamas did as a reason for collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

He went on to say that there were Palestinian grievances which “related to 56 years of occupation”, although “none of these grievances justify the barbaric attack of Hamas”.

Speaking about the UN’s potential role in mediation once the war is over, Guterres said that the international community needs to come together, and the UN can “play a part” in that.

There will need to be a transition “that is acceptable to Israel from the point of view of the guarantee of the security of Israel”, he continued, adding that it should “at the same time allow for the transfer to an effective Palestinian Authority.”

The exact make-up of this “is not obvious at this moment”, he stated.

Guterres said it was essential to “take profit” of the situation and “finally query the possibility of a two-state solution”.

“The two-state solution is, in my opinion, the only way out,” he added.

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