December 8, 2023 — New York, NY
American Jewish Committee (AJC), the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, released the following statement after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) convened in response to the UN Secretary-General’s invocation of Article 99 of the UN Charter.
This was the first time Secretary-General Guterres had invoked this provision since taking office in January 2017. He did not do so following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, which has caused enormous civilian death, displacement, and suffering, nor in the face of the atrocities committed by the Syrian regime against its own population.
“AJC is grateful to the U.S. administration for using its veto power to prevent the UN Security Council from adopting a harmful draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. A premature ceasefire, without ensuring the elimination of Hamas’ military and governing capabilities, will only prolong that organization’s reign of terror over the people of Gaza, perpetuate its threat to the Israeli citizenry, and doom any prospect of a political end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch.
It was Hamas that violated the ceasefire that had existed until the morning of October 7. On that day, under cover of heavy rocket attacks against Israeli civilian centers, hundreds of militants from the Iranian-backed terrorist organization infiltrated Israel. They perpetrated a rampage of rape, torture, and murder against civilians living in communities along the Israeli-Gaza border and other Israelis who happened to be in the area.
Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza did not stop their campaign of terror on October 7. Since that day, they have fired more than 10,500 rockets at Israel. More than 1,200 persons in Israel have been killed and more than 8,500 injured.
“Like every nation, Israel has the inherent right of self-defense, enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter,” added Deutch. “Israel has exercised this right in carrying out the current military operation. The UN reaffirmed this right following previous terrorist attacks by groups similar to Hamas, such as al-Qaeda and ISIS."
The taking of 240 hostages by Hamas, of which 138 remain in captivity, is a war crime. AJC continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all the hostages and, until then, for the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the hostages and bring them life-saving medicine.
“We regret the suffering of Palestinian civilians and the loss of civilian Palestinian lives. But the responsibility for such suffering and loss lies with Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza who deliberately and callously hide and launch attacks among civilians, using them as human shields,” said Deutch. “Iran bears a primary responsibility for the current escalation. For years, Iran has provided military and financial support to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis, and other terrorist organizations as part of its pursuit of regional hegemony.”
AJC’s longstanding policy is that a durable two-state solution is the only realistic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and if it is to be achieved, it must be established through direct bilateral negotiations between the parties themselves. The goal should be two states living side by side in peace and security as part of a widening circle of cooperation and coexistence in the region. However, such a solution can only be fulfilled after the elimination of Hamas, which opposes Israel’s very existence.
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit www.ajc.org.