Olivia Rosane: Guterres says Refusing a Palestinian State is ‘Totally Unacceptable’

Published originally at Common Dreams on January 21, 2024 under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 license

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called Israel’s assault on Gaza “heartbreaking” and “totally unacceptable” as he addressed the opening of the Third South Summit of the G77+China in Kampala, Uganda, on Sunday.

Guterres’ remarks came as Gaza’s Health Ministry announced that the death toll of Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza had risen past 25,000. 

“In Gaza, Israel’s military operations have spread massive destruction and killed civilians on a scale unprecedented during my time as Secretary General, including more than 150 members of our own staff, following the horrific terror attacks by Hamas on 7 October,” Guterres said.

He added that the Middle East was now a “tinder box” and that the international community must do everything possible to prevent a wider war from breaking out in the region. 

Guterres further responded to statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, in which he and his office doubled down on a refusal to accept a Palestinian state. 

Netanyahu had first made remarks on Thursday saying that Israel needed “security control over all territory west of the Jordan River.”

On Friday, however, U.S. President Joe Biden said he thought a Palestinian state was still possible with Netanyahu in office and that the Israeli prime minister was not against all possible configurations of a potential state. Netanyahu’s statements on Saturday appeared to contradict that.

“The repeated refusal yesterday to accept the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians is totally unacceptable, as I told the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement,” Guterres said Sunday.

“The denial of the right to statehood for the Palestinian people would indefinitely prolong a conflict that has become a major threat to global peace and security; exacerbate polarization; and embolden extremists everywhere,” Guterres said.