Israel has rejected a report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres outlining options for strengthening the protection of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories.
Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement late Friday that “the only protection the Palestinian people need is from their own leadership.”
The 14-page report laid out four options, from increasing aid to the Palestinians, sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate.
The report was requested by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since late March.
“Instead of suggesting ways to protect the Palestinian people from Israel, the UN should instead hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for continually endangering its own people,” Danon said.
“The report’s suggestions will only enable the Palestinians’ continued rejectionism.”
Guterres, however, he did not make a specific recommendation.
He noted that all options would need the co-operation of both parties, a sustained cessation of hostilities and additional resources to ensure they were viable.
“The combination of prolonged military occupation, constant security threats, weak political institutions, and a deadlocked peace process provides for a protection challenge that is highly complex politically, legally and practically,” he wrote.
Armed UN peacekeepers or armed forces from a group of like-minded states operating under a United Nations mandate could be deployed to offer physical protection, Guterres said.
This option, however, would need a Security Council mandate and the United States, a close ally of Israel, would likely wield its veto.
A UN or non-UN civilian observer mission could be deployed “with a specific mandate to report on protection and well-being issues and provide local mediation,” Guterres said.
This would also need a UN-mandate.
A third option could be expanding current UN programmes and development and humanitarian aid to address the needs of Palestinian civilians more effectively and strengthen Palestinian institutions, he wrote.
The final option could be to send additional UN human rights, co-ordination and political officers to boost monitoring and reporting on the situation and increase the UN’s visibility, Guterres said.
The General Assembly resolution requesting the report was adopted with 120 votes in favour, eight against and 45 abstentions.
It was put forward in the General Assembly after the United States vetoed a similar resolution in the 15-member UN Security Council.
“The best way to ensure the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population is still the negotiation of a comprehensive, just and final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Guterres said.
The report released to all UN member-states comes amid a vacuum in Middle East peace efforts as European and Middle East powers await a peace plan from President Donald Trump’s administration that has been under discussion for months.
UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialise.
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