UN Security Council debate: Calls for ceasefire mount as Israel rejects two-state solution

The UN Security Council meets to discuss the situation in the Middle East at UN headquarters in New York. Picture: Charly Triballeau/ AFP

The UN Security Council meets to discuss the situation in the Middle East at UN headquarters in New York. Picture: Charly Triballeau/ AFP

Published Jan 24, 2024


In an intense United Nations (UN) security council debate on Tuesday night, calls mounted for a permanent ceasefire and Israel rejected the two-state solution.

These are the key takeaways from that debate.

Rejection of two-state solution

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly criticised Israel's rejection of a two-state solution, warning that such a stance would only prolong the Israel-Hamas war.

Guterres emphasised that the right of the Palestinian people to have their independent state must be acknowledged by all parties.

“The right of the Palestinian people to build their own fully independent state must be recognised by all, and a refusal to accept the two-state solution by any party must be firmly rejected,” said Guterres.

Risk of regional escalation

Guterres highlighted the escalating risks in the region, pointing to potential spillover effects in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan. He called on all parties to step back from the brink and consider the devastating costs of a wider war.

International support for two-state solution

While Israel rejects the two-state solution, the US and other nations reiterated their commitment to a two-state solution, emphasising the importance of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for a peaceful coexistence.

The US State Department's Uzra Zeya stressed the goal of a future where Gaza is not used as a platform for terror and where Palestinians have their own state.

“The goal is a future where Gaza is never again used as a platform for terror, and a future where Palestinians have a state of their own,” she said, reiterating the Biden administration’s call on Israel to do more to protect Palestinian civilians.

Russian critique of US diplomacy

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticised the US for oscillating between vetoing resolutions related to the ceasefire and calling for a reduction in hostilities in Gaza. He claimed that such actions provide a "carte blanche" for the collective punishment of Palestinians.

Call for humanitarian ceasefire

Despite repeated rejections by Israel, Guterres reiterated his call for a humanitarian ceasefire, a plea with overwhelming global support. The humanitarian situation in Gaza, with widespread destruction and displacement, was emphasised, with concerns raised about the wellbeing of civilians.

Iran's role in the conflict

Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, focused on Iran's role in the conflict, accusing the country of providing weapons to Hamas and other militant groups. He urged the Security Council to address the root cause of the conflict, which he identified as Iran.

Iran's response

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, while not addressing the nuclear programme, warned Israel that the so-called "total destruction of Hamas" would not lead to peace. He emphasised the importance of stopping the killing of civilians in Gaza for regional security.

“The killing of civilians in Gaza and the West Bank cannot continue on to the so-called total destruction of Hamas, because that time will never come,” he said. “Stopping the genocide in Gaza is the main key to security in the region,” said Amirabdollahian.

Palestine speaks out about Israel’s “ethnic cleansing and genocide”

The Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki accused Israel of carrying out "the most savage bombing campaign" since World War II, leading to famine and massive displacement of civilians. He characterised Israel's choices as tantamount to "genocide, ethnic cleansing, or apartheid."

Al-Maliki said Israel doesn’t see the Palestinians as a people and a “political reality to coexist with, but as a demographic threat to get rid of through death, displacement or subjugation.”

Al-Maliki said there are only two future paths: One starts with Palestinian freedom and leads to Middle-East peace and security, and the other denies freedom and “dooms our region to further bloodshed and endless conflict”.

International diplomatic efforts

Various foreign ministers, including France's Stéphane Séjourné and Slovenia's Tanja Fajon, called for an immediate ceasefire, a two-state solution, and accountability for war crimes. France warned of the real possibility of a regional conflagration.

Humanitarian concerns

Minister Fajon of Slovenia emphasised the urgent need for a ceasefire to protect civilians, prevent extremism, and enable the safe return of displaced people. She condemned the conditions in Gaza and called for the international community to work towards peace.