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Gunshots in Gaza, ripples in UN

January 16, 2009 13:22 IST
United Nations General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, who opened an emergency session of the 192-member body to discuss the "illegal Israeli actions" in Gaza, briefly clashed with an Israeli diplomat, who questioned the validity of calling the meeting.

Israeli diplomat Ilan Fluss cited an article in the UN charter which says that the general assembly "shall not make any recommendation" about a situation when the council is seized of it unless it is asked to do so.

In this case, she said, the council had not done so. But d'Escoto, a known pro-Palestinian, angrily rejected the protest, saying the assembly is the most representative body and had a duty to make its voice heard.

Besides, the council resolution calling for urgent ceasefire has been "totally ignored" by Israel and Hamas, d'Escoto noted.

In a point of order, Fluss sought clarification on the validity of convening the special session, which was taking place as the security council was actively addressing the situation in Israel and the Gaza strip.

Responding, the general assembly president said he had been falsely accused of trying to silence Israel.

"That was an absolute and total lie," he said, adding, "Now, it was ironic that Israel is trying to silence the general assembly. Shortly before the joint press conference of secretary- general Ban Ki-moon and the Israeli foreign minister, the UN headquarters in Gaza was bombed.

"The United Nations Security Council resolution was being ignored in practice, and verbally disdained by Israel's prime minister," d'Escoto said.

After brief clash, Israel withdrew it protest.

Dharam Shourie in United Nations