Gulf News Online Edition

Dubai: Tuesday, December 10, 2002

World silence on Mideast conflict decried
Abu Dhabi |By A Staff Reporter | 10-12-2002


Hans Kochler

If the international community continues to remain silent over the escalating violence in Palestine, it will soon become difficult to contain the conflict in the region, said the head of an NGO.

"The continuation of the tragic escalation in the occupied territories of Palestine... would not only destabilise the region, but also endanger the peace and security of the whole world," said Hans Kochler, President of International Progress Organisation and representative of the NGO connected to the Palestinian issue.

Kochler, who was speaking at the Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-up, said that if the conflict between the two parties persists and the international community remains silent rather than enforce the basic dictates of international law, the events in Palestine might lead to a greater conflict, which would be difficult to contain in the region, and perhaps threaten international peace and security.

Kochler pointed out that Israel's selective assassinations and killings are a form of state-terrorism and according to the Geneva Convention and the laws of the International Criminal Court, such acts were considered war crimes.

These grave human rights violations must be investigated by an independent international committee under the auspices of the United Nations, he said.

Kochler called for the dismantling of all Jewish colonies and complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from all Palestinian lands including Occupied Jerusalem for the sake of achieving a lasting settlement of the conflict.

Kochler added that according to article 39 of UN Charter, the situation in Occupied Palestine posed a serious threat to international peace and security.

As a consequence, a UN force was urgently required to provide protection to the innocent Palestinians there.

He criticised the UN for failing to undertake an independent investigation for grave violations of international law by the occupying forces in Jenin refugee camp and other areas.

He regretted that the world body had proven incompetent and irrelevant when it came to the enforcement of international humanitarian law in Palestine.

According to Kochler, the latest assassination of a UN Relief and Works Agency official not only demanded urgent and independent investigation into Israeli atrocities, but also called for collective and decisive action against Tel Aviv's continuous flagrant violations of international human law.

He added that the Security Council could be accused of following a policy of double standards as there is a lack of consensus on taking effective measures under chapter seven to deter such practices by Israel.

He appealed to the international community not to keep silent in the face of Israel's plans to deprive the Palestinian nation of their right to self-determination and to re-draw the map of the Middle East.

Kochler said that the outcome of the situation in the Middle East depends on the courage of the UN Secretary General and the members of the UN General Assembly.

"The credibility of the world body is at stake and this is its challenge after the end of the Cold War," he said.

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