Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson delivered a speech at the United Nations on Friday wherein he harshly criticized the government of Israel for what he considers to be human rights violations.
“Human rights can not be debated without discussing the plight of the Palestinians and the people of Gaza,” Össur said in part, “We now have the results of the experts, mandated by the Human Rights Council, who conclude that Israel broke international law by attacking the flotilla bringing humanitarian assistance to Gaza last spring. Iceland has strongly condemned the raid. It drew strong reaction from the Icelandic society at large.”
Össur continued: “The Icelandic nation is deeply sympathetic towards the plight of the Palestinians, held in occupation, by an oppressing power. And as I speak, we have Icelandic humanitarian workers being held up in Israel, trying to bring prosthetic limbs to people in Gaza. People that urgently need assistance. This is not acceptable to Iceland. This is not acceptable to the world. This is inhuman, unjust. We urge Israel not to prevent humanitarian assistance from reaching the needy in Gaza.”
The speech drew praise of Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson, who wrote on his blog that while he’s often had strong differences of opinion with Össur, that “this is the way ministers should talk on the international stage”, adding that “never before has an Icelandic minister delivered such a speech to the UN.”
Össur also talked about climate change, and made a special appeal to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to spare the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was convicted of adultery and sentenced to death in 2007.
The minister’s speech can be read in its entirety here.
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