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Switzerland points finger at Middle East actors

Godet pointed at both sides in the conflict

(Keystone)

The Swiss ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva has criticised both Israel and Palestinian militants at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Blaise Godet spoke at the new body on Wednesday, before debate was adjourned till Thursday on a controversial resolution to censure Israel and demand a halt to its military assault in the Gaza Strip.

Godet said it was certainly Israel's right to liberate by military means an Israeli soldier captured on June 25 by Palestinian militants.

But he argued that Israeli military operations in Gaza were "out of proportion".

In particular he criticised the destruction of a Gaza power plant, the attack against the offices of the Palestinian prime minister and other ministries, as well as the arbitrary detention of a number of democratically elected representatives of the people and ministers.

Godet was echoing the contents of a statement issued on Monday by the Swiss foreign ministry in Bern calling on Israel to respect humanitarian law.

Guarantee access

"Israel must absolutely guarantee that humanitarian organisations have access to the Palestinian civilian population," he said.

He noted that humanitarian rules had to be respected by all sides in a conflict.

Switzerland therefore condemned "with the same firmness" the launching by Palestinians of Qassam rockets into Israeli territory and last month's assassination of a young Israeli settler on the West Bank.

Godet said Switzerland supported the demand for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, to go on an urgent mission to the Middle East to report back to the council on the human rights and humanitarian situations as soon as possible.

Greatest restraint

He called on all parties to use the greatest restraint and for immediate dialogue to try to reach a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A vote of the 47-member council is now expected on Thursday. Europeans, including the Swiss, had felt that fresh debate on the situation in the Palestinian territories was not appropriate since it was on the agenda of the UN Security Council in New York.

The special session in Geneva was called after a request by 21 mainly Muslim and Arab council member states.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

According to the Swiss foreign ministry, an end to the Middle East crisis depends on:

Establishment of a lasting peace founded on UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515, and all the accords agreed by the conflict parties.

Recognition of Israel's right to exist, in particular its right to security within internationally recognised borders.

Recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-governance and the establishment of a viable state in line with UN Security Council resolution 1397.

A just, global and negotiated solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees.

A negotiated ruling on the final status of Jerusalem at the end of which the western and eastern parts would become the capitals of Israel and the future Palestinian state respectively.

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