Iran is the single greatest threat to the world, and the United Nations needs to
take action against it immediately, Israel Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor told
the Security Council in New York on Tuesday.
“Never has it been so clear
Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon,” Prosor said at a regular meeting
debating the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian
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“Now is the time to act. Tomorrow is too late. The
stakes are too high. The price of inaction is too great,” he said.
cited the last International Atomic Energy Agency report, saying it proved
beyond all doubt the Islamic Republic sought to obtain nuclear weapons. He said
Tehran’s efforts to enrich uranium to 20 percent-levels at its reactor in Qom
could serve no plausible aim other than to develop an atomic bomb.
Israeli diplomat also rebuked the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Mufti
Muhammad Hussein, who in a sermon broadcast on television last week told
believers that killing Jews was “a sacred goal” for Muslims.
comments were deeply disturbing,” said Prosor. “But what was even more
disturbing is that no one from the Palestinian leadership stood up and condemned
his comments, denounced his actions or dissociated themselves from his
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice chose to highlight the start
of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in Amman earlier this
month, the first time the two sides have sat down for talks in years.
thanked Jordan for hosting the event and said “it is necessary we do everything
we can to ensure progress.”
Permanent Observer of Palestine Riyad H.
Mansour, who spoke before Prosor, placed the blame for the lack of progress in
talks between Israel and the Palestinians squarely on the Israelis.
spare no effort for peace despite the many obstacles imposed by the Israeli
government,” Mansour said.
He gave a long list of grievances, accusing
Israel of expelling Palestinians from the Jordan Valley and violating human
rights of Palestinian “shepherds and children.”
He again declared the
PA’s bid to seek statehood status at the UN, something that is being debated,
saying it would be part of a two-state solution.
During the gathering,
Rice also addressed events in Syria where violence between protesters and
security forces have left thousands dead. She called again on the government of
President Bashar Assad to permit the access of observers to the country and to
respect human rights. She said Washington was “concerned [about] recent reports
of shipments of arms and munitions to the Syrian regime,” and called for an arms
Representatives from Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Togo, India and
Iran were also set to speak at the gathering.
Rice said Security Council
dynamics are no more favorable now to a Palestinian UN membership bid than they
were last year, despite a partial change in the council makeup.
teeth of strong opposition from the United States and Israel, the PA applied to
the council in September for UN membership. But a committee to consider the
application failed to reach consensus, and the Palestinians have not so far
requested a formal vote in the council.
Addressing a Jewish audience in
New York, Rice said that since the committee’s report, the application had
essentially stayed there.
“I presume that is because the Palestinians
decided that, given the voting outcome in the council, it wasn’t timely to push
it to a vote,” she told the governing board of the American Jewish
“The fact is, nobody knows for sure what the Palestinians will
choose to do.”
Asked whether the replacement of five members of the
15-nation council as of January 1 might affect the issue, Rice said, “I think
that we are roughly in the same place now as we were last year, and potentially
even in a better position.”
A council resolution needs nine votes to
pass, and even then can be vetoed by the US, Britain, France, Russia or China.
But diplomats said at the time the Palestinians would get only eight votes in
support, with other countries voting against or abstaining.
that situation remains despite the changes in the council
Newcomer Azerbaijan is thought likely to support the
Palestinian application, whereas its predecessor, Bosnia, was expected to
abstain. But Guatemala is unlikely to follow its predecessor, Brazil, in backing
the Palestinians. The other three newcomers represent no change.
Palestinians’ choice is whether to push for a Security Council vote anyway, take
the issue to the UN General Assembly – which cannot confer membership but can
upgrade their status as observers – or do nothing as contacts continue with
Israel over a possible resumption of substantive peace talks.
reaffirmed the US line that a Palestinian state would come only through direct
negotiations with Israel, not “through a shortcut at the United Nations.” In her
remarks to the AJC, she stressed US backing at the UN for Israel.
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