Palestinian envoy criticises West for Gaza stance, calls for more support

Khraishi Ambassador of Palestine to the UN attends a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva

By Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) - A Palestinian envoy on Friday criticised Western states for supporting Ukraine by calling out Russia's violations of international law while stopping short of naming what he said were breaches by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza.

Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Ibrahim Khraishi was speaking alongside more than 40 ambassadors to observe a minute of silence for thousands of civilian deaths in Gaza since the start of Israeli bombardments more than a month ago. The Israeli attacks by air, land and sea were triggered by deadly Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7. that killed 1,400.

"There are a plethora of international laws that can be applied. They are applied fully when it comes to Ukraine. When it comes to us they are put aside, they're violated, they're not used, they're belittled," he told a gathering of diplomats and reporters.

He specifically mentioned European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen's allegations last year that Russia's attacks on civilian infrastructure, including electricity, in Ukraine were war crimes.

In Gaza, where electricity has been cut off since Oct. 11 as part of Israel's tightened siege and more than 11,000 civilians have died, Western leaders including those from the European Union have tended to use softer language and defended Israel's right to attack Hamas, while calling for efforts to limit civilian casualties.

There was no immediate comment from EU Commission spokespeople.

Israel says it abides by international humanitarian law at all times and blames Hamas for civilian deaths, saying it uses people as human shields.

Most of the ambassadors who took part in the minute of silence on stage were from the Middle East, Asian and African countries. No Western countries joined, although the Dutch ambassador stood on the sidelines.

In the same speech, Khraishi also asked democracies for more support for a ceasefire, and to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, saying humanitarian aid was not enough.

"I should like to address myself to those who call themselves the free world. You have to do your utmost to stop the bloodshed and to reach a ceasefire," he added. "You have to work with us in order to attack the crux of the problem, meaning ending the occupation."

Countries are considering calling a special session of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to debate the Gaza crisis, he said.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Nick Macfie)