UN secretary-general invokes rarely used Article 99 to press for permanent ceasefire in Gaza.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has “reached a new moral low” and in effect signaled his support for the Hamas terror group by invoking a rarely used clause of the UN chapter to address the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, according to senior Israeli officials.
Guterres on Wednesday announced that he was invoking Article 99 of the UN charter for the first time, citing the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas.
“Facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, I urge the [UN Security] Council to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe & appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared,” the UN chief wrote on X/Twitter.
He also attached to his social media post a copy of a letter to José Javier De la Gasca Lopez Domínguez, the current UN Security Council president, explaining his decision and saying he expects “public order to completely break down due to desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible.”
I’ve just invoked Art.99 of the UN Charter – for the 1st time in my tenure as Secretary-General.
Facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, I urge the Council to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe & appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared. pic.twitter.com/pA0eRXZnFJ
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) December 6, 2023
According to the UN, invoking Article 99 allows the UN secretary-general to bring the attention of the security council to “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”
It’s unclear why Guterres, who’s served in his current role since Jan. 2017, has not activated this measure for other conflicts during his tenure that affected larger areas and had higher casualty figures.
Top Israeli officials lambasted Guterres for what they described as an obsessive bias against Israel and a decision that would only help Hamas.
“Guterres’ tenure is a danger to world peace,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen wrote on X/Twitter. “His request to activate Article 99 and the call for a cease-fire in Gaza constitutes support of the Hamas terrorist organization and an endorsement of the murder of the elderly, the abduction of babies, and the rape of women. Anyone who supports world peace must support the liberation of Gaza from Hamas.”
Guterres’ tenure is a danger to world peace.
His request to activate Article 99 and the call for a cease fire in Gaza constitutes support of the Hamas terrorist organization and an endorsement of the murder of the elderly, the abduction of babies and the rape of women.
— אלי כהן | Eli Cohen (@elicoh1) December 6, 2023
Cohen was referring to the crimes committed by Hamas during its surprise invasion of Israel on Oct. 7. Palestinian terrorists led by Hamas murdered 1,200 people, mostly civilians, during their rampage across southern Israeli communities and kidnapped 240 others, taking them back to Gaza as hostages. Reports of the terrorists’ brutality, including torture and rampant sexual violence, have shocked the world.
The Israeli military has been targeting Hamas in Gaza with air strikes and ground operations since the massacre, with the stated goals of destroying the terror group and rescuing all the hostages.
One problem for Israel has been Hamas’ notorious strategy of placing its weapons, command centers, and other key targets near or even inside civilian sites, leading the European Union to recently condemn the terror group for using hospitals as “human shields.”
However, Guterres has been a vocal critic of Israel’s military campaign and repeatedly called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas — a move that Jerusalem argues will allow Hamas to regroup and strengthen its position.
Cohen wasn’t the only Israeli official to sound off on the UN chief’s decision. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said Guterres “reached a new moral low” with his announcement.
“The Secretary-General decided to activate this rare clause only when it allows him to put pressure on Israel, which is fighting the Nazi Hamas terrorists. This is more proof of the Secretary-General’s moral distortion and his bias against Israel,” Erdan posted on social media. “The Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire is actually a call to keep Hamas’ reign of terror in Gaza. Instead of the Secretary-General explicitly pointing to Hamas’ responsibility for the situation and calling on the terrorist leaders to turn themselves in and return the hostages, thus ending the war, the Secretary-General chooses to continue playing into Hamas’ hands.”
Erdan added that Guterres’ positions on the war “only prolong the fighting in Gaza, because they give hope to the Hamas terrorists that the war will be stopped and they will be able to survive.”
The ambassador called on Guterres to “resign immediately — the UN needs a Secretary-General who supports the war on terror, not a Secretary-General who acts according to the script written by Hamas.”
Today, the Secretary-General has reached a new moral low. He writes that he is activating, for the first time, Article 99 of the UN Charter in relation to the Israel-Hamas war, an article that can only be invoked in a situation where international peace and security are… pic.twitter.com/rQm18aT1vq
— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) December 6, 2023
For the last several weeks, Israeli officials have repeatedly castigated Guterres and the UN’s response to the current conflict. Last month, for example, Cohen said that Guterres was unfit to lead the UN, arguing he had not done enough to condemn the Hamas terrorist group or to advance peace in the Middle East.
Cohen’s comments came three weeks after he canceled a meeting with Guterres, who in remarks the prior month seemingly blamed Israel for Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre.
Erdan went further, calling on Guterres to resign for rationalizing Hamas’ atrocities against Israeli civilians.
The backlash came in response to comments that Guterres made at a UN Security Council meeting on the Israel-Hamas war at the time.
“It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum,” Guterres said. “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence. Their economy is stifled, their people displaced, and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing.”
Beyond Cohen and Erdan, members of both the Israeli unity government and the opposition also called out Guterres, with Minister Benny Gantz saying the UN leader “condones terror” and opposition leader Yair Lapid saying that Guterres “brought shame upon the United Nations … [with] excuses and rationalization for barbaric terrorism.”
Israeli officials have also expressed outrage at Guterres for in their view being too close to Iran, the main international sponsor of Hamas.
Last month, Guterres met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in New York.
In a recent interview, Guterres said he had appealed to Iran to intervene and stop worsening hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terror group based in Lebanon, on the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Guterres told journalist Fareed Zakaria that he had asked Iran “to tell Hezbollah, ‘You cannot create a situation in which Lebanon will be completely engulfed by this conflict,’ because if Hezbollah will launch a massive attack on Israel it might create, I don’t know what kind of impact, but one thing I am sure — Lebanon would not survive.”
Asked if Iran had been responsive, the UN chief said, “I do not know. They said always that they have nothing to do with what is happening but they say publicly that there is a risk of this conflict to be extended. It’s always very mysterious, the position of Iran.”
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