‘It is truly painful’

NEW YORK, United States (CMC) — Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke has expressed “deep concern” over the continuing violence in the Middle East, describing it as “nothing short of an all-out war”.

“As the deadly conflict in the Middle East continues to escalate, the humanity of the Israeli and Palestinian people must be the centre of our concern,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

“It is truly painful to witness this deadly escalation result in the tragic loss of innocent life,” said Clarke, a senior member of the US House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee, and a senior member of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Homeland Security who represents the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.

“I join my colleagues in the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and the Administration in calling for an immediate ceasefire and a de-escalation of tension in the region,” said Clarke, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Immigration Task Force.

“The United States must use constructive diplomatic efforts to broker a just and lasting peace to ensure this culture of escalating violence is not inherited by another generation of Palestinian and Israeli people,” Clarke said.

A White House statement said President Joseph Biden, Jr spoke on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The president reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks, and welcomed efforts to address intercommunal violence and to bring calm to Jerusalem.

“He encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians,” the statement added, stating that the two leaders discussed progress in Israel’s military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.

In addressing the UN Security Council on Sunday, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ UN Ambassador I Rhonda King said “the painstaking quest for peace in the Middle East is gravely imperilled by the Israeli military campaign against the State of Palestine.

“At this critical juncture, we must show a common resolve to ease tensions and assist both Israel and the State of Palestine towards a two-State solution based on the principles of international law and parameters laid out in Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

“Given our responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Security Council, as a matter of principle and of morality and international law, must not remain silent on this issue.

“We must do all that we can, in accordance with our charter mandate, to find a solution to this issue with the hopes that future generations of Palestinians and Israelis can be unshackled from this painful cycle of occupation and violence.”

King said St Vincent and the Grenadines welcomed the efforts of individual states, particularly members of the Middle East Quartet to de-escalate tensions, urging all members of the international community to “spare no effort to facilitate peaceful dialogue between the parties.

“We join the UN secretary general’s call for an immediate ceasefire,” said the St Vincent and the Grenadines envoy, stating that the recent air strikes targeting the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, which have killed over 180 Palestinians including children, and injured some 1,200 others, are “unacceptable”.

“St Vincent and the Grenadines unequivocally condemns these actions, and we reiterate our call for the occupying power to cease its military aggression against Palestinians.

“To be sure, we also sympathise with the families of those who died in Israel. Furthermore, we believe that international law against the targeting of civilians must be upheld, and that those responsible for breaches of such law should be held accountable for their crimes.

“The right to self-defence cannot cloak the wrongs of a party that fired the first shots and is using military capabilities far beyond that of the weaker party. Let us remember that Palestinians do not have shelters or protection to wait out the hail of air strikes. This council is their only protection. International law is their only protection — and we are failing them,” King said.

The diplomat urged the international community to deepen its commitment to take the political, diplomatic and legal steps necessary to de-escalate tensions.

“The imperative is clear; we must stand together, firmly and resolutely, and demand peace and justice for all,” she said. “It is time!”

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