GENEVA — The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, used an appearance at the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday to appeal for United Nations intervention to defuse the recent wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis.
Human rights in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are at their worst since 1948, Abbas said in a statement to a special meeting of the council in Geneva, referring to the year the State of Israel was established.
He called for “strong and decisive intervention,” urging the UN Security Council to establish “a special regime of international protection” for Palestinians, but added no details to flesh out an idea he had previously aired, including in a statement to the General Assembly at the end of September.
“We need protection and we look to you to protect us,” Abbas told diplomats at the meeting on Wednesday, convened at the Palestinian Authority’s request, a courtesy never previously shown to a UN observer state.
“It is no longer useful to waste time in negotiations just for the sake of negotiations, what is required is the ending of the occupation in accordance with international legitimacy,” he said.
His comments were condemned by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which said, “President Abbas chose once more the way of propaganda and incitement, instead of the dialogue proposed by Israel.”
Addressing the Human Rights Council before Abbas, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, warned that the recent violence between Palestinians and Israelis, if not stopped, threatened to draw the crisis “ever closer to catastrophe.”
About half the Palestinian fatalities were suspected assailants who were shot dead at the scene of attacks. Others were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and along Israel’s border with Gaza.
The stabbings and shootings that flared in recent weeks resulted in the deaths of 58 Palestinians and 11 Israelis, Hussein said. An additional 2,100 Palestinians and 127 Israelis were wounded, he added.
Citing allegations that Israeli security forces had used disproportionate force leading to the deaths of some Palestinians, Hussein said “extrajudicial killings are strongly suspected.”
This crisis, fueled by fear and visceral rage on both sides, “is dangerous in the extreme,” Hussein warned. “There is a growing possibility if this violence continues to sharpen along religious lines, we will draw closer to the makings of a broader, and much more terrible, confrontation.”
Abbas’s visit to the Human Rights Council was part of a European tour that took him to Brussels on Tuesday for talks with the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, on ways to defuse tensions and end the attacks.
But Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Eviatar Manor, roundly condemned Abbas for statements that he said had fanned the violence and the Human Rights Council for staging this “scandalous special meeting” and allowing itself to be used as a stage for propaganda.
“What we have witnessed today is the glorification of terror and violence,” Manor told diplomats in a meeting convened hours after Abbas spoke. “What the council allowed today is the banalization of the spilling of Jewish blood.”