UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers remarks during a security council open debate on the maintenance of international peace and security at UN headquarters in New York on November 20, 2023. AFP
Antonio Guterres said it was "important to be able to transform this tragedy into an opportunity" -- which, for him, meant moving "in a determined and irreversible way to a two-state solution."
This means, after the current war between Israel and Hamas fighters in Gaza ends, "a strengthened Palestinian Authority, assuming responsibilities in Gaza," he said.
But the Palestinian Authority cannot go into Gaza backed by Israeli tanks, he added -- meaning the "international community needs to look into a transition period."
"I do not think that a UN protectorate in Gaza is a solution," however, Guterres said.
Instead, he called for a "multi-stakeholder approach" that would see the US act as the "main guarantor" of Israel's security, while Arab nations are "essential" to support Palestinians.
"Everybody needs to come together to create the conditions for the transition, allowing for a strengthened Palestinian Authority to assume responsibilities in Gaza," and from there to a two-state solution, he said.
Guterres also again denounced the killing of civilians -- especially children -- in Gaza as Israel wages a relentless air and ground campaign in retaliation for the October 7 attacks by Hamas.
For seven years now he has published a "list of shame" of parties to armed conflict who commit grave violations against children. Israel's absence from the list has previously been criticized by human rights organizations.
Without saying whether that may change this year, Guterres put the number of children killed in Gaza into stark context.
In the "shame" reports, the highest number of children killed in one year by one actor was the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2017-2018, followed by the Syrian government and its allies before 2020. Both times the tally was in the hundreds.
"Without entering into discussing the accuracy of the numbers that were published by de facto authorities in Gaza, what is clear is that we have had in a few weeks thousands of children killed," Guterres told reporters.
"We are witnessing a killing of civilians that is unparalleled and unprecedented in any conflict since I am Secretary-General."