NEW YORK – To take the job of Israeli ambassador at the United Nations at any
point, one has to be ready to hit the ground running.
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Now in particular,
with September’s double-barrelled promise of Durban III and the imminent bid for
Palestinian statehood coming to the UN – plus flotilla agita and Arab Spring –
the new guy on the block, Ron Prosor, has his hands full.
running from event to event... the most important thing, of course, is
September,” Prosor said late last week.
It’s clear that Israel’s new man
in Turtle Bay is more than a little busy. Before coming to New York, Prosor was
ambassador to the United Kingdom, which he views as “wonderful preparation” for
“The bottom line is that I had a front-row seat to the
demonization and delegitimization campaigns going on against Israel,” Prosor
said, deeming those involved in such campaigns “very sophisticated.”
me, the analogy is like Chinese-water torture – it’s a constant drip, and it’s
only when someone really makes a huge mistake that you catch them,” Prosor
Prosor recounts having seen instances of Israel-vilification that
he calls “unbelievable”: “Someone stands up in Westminster and actually talks
about Israeli rescue teams in Haiti harvesting organs? That’s the baseline you
have to work with? That’s a serious, serious problem.”
This battle of
warring outlooks, Prosor said, is one that he anticipates having to fight at the
“I’m not sure the majority here really care about the merits of our
arguments, but we don’t have a choice but to hammer home our points again, and
again, and again.”
Prosor said he was impressed by the institution’s
response to the most recent Gaza flotilla, however.
secretary-general downward, there were serious statements made against the
flotilla, saying it’s not constructive – and it’s true,” Prosor said. “It’s
clearly a provocation done by extreme organizations that has nothing to do with
either humanitarian aid or Palestinian welfare.
“But the interesting
thing is that they really went out of their way to tell respective countries
that this is their responsibility – and then the Greeks came out with a
statement calling on their citizens not to mount the flotilla. You could see
Shortly after Prosor completed his first stakeout (a
press conference for the UN press after a Security Council meeting), he said he
“I’m quite emotional representing Israel,” Prosor said,
mentioning that he had the opportunity to chair the Western European and Other
Nations group in the General Assembly for the reelection of Secretary-General
“It’s something for me which was very significant, and
allowed me to go directly into the lion’s den [the UN] with a good
The true measure of the lion’s den is this September, with its
twin challenges of the Durban III commemoration – being boycotted by Israel, the
US and Canada – and the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition.
terms of the Palestinian bid, Prosor said there is “very intensive work” being
done both in foreign capitals and at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to reach
what he called a “moral minority.”
“We’re basically trying to get
like-minded countries to oppose the unilateral declaration of independence by
saying that any unilateral steps would not be constructive, but rather, would be
the opposite,” Prosor said. “They won’t bring peace, but they will only move us
At the UN, Prosor said, “it’s basically the best place
where you have access to 192 states, so we can really work and make that point
that we need to go back to direct negotiations – that’s the only way to solve
“In our minds, what the Palestinians are doing is breaking
the Oslo Accords, the interim agreements from 1995, [Security Council
Resolutions] 242 and 338 and the road map – all the structures we put in that
were not coincidental.”
He warned that a unilateral declaration of
statehood by the Palestinians would harm previous agreements.
something unilateral here means that everything that we did in the past is null
and void, as if they’re saying, ‘Now, if you don’t give us this or that, we go
on a one-way street.’ So we’re trying to get the support of like-minded
countries that would understand that unilateral steps would not get us
anywhere,” he said.
“We’re going at all levels – heads of state, media – with
the real objective of getting everyone back to the negotiation table, and that
is the only way to move forward to a two-state solution for two peoples... If
someone thinks that someone can impose a solution from the outside on the two
parties, it’s a huge mistake.”
Emphasizing Israel’s common humanity is
another of Prosor’s goals as ambassador.
He said he wanted to “present
Israel in a different light – not just through the conflict, but showing what
Israel can really contribute to the world in sustainable development,
agriculture, renewable and alternative energy.”
“Where most of the world
has no clue, we are leading – this is what Israel is about,” Prosor said, adding
that among his objectives is to convey what Israel does in fields beyond the
Middle East conflict.
Like his predecessor Meron Reuben, Prosor said it
is important for more Israelis to get involved in the UN itself. But when it
comes to a discussion of Durban III, Prosor becomes far less
“Durban in general – the whole idea – is racist against
Israel, and this is something which is so obvious that countries should
disassociate themselves,” he said.
“It’s like the Council on Human
Rights. I don’t think there is another organization so unfit for its
purpose. They’re like Jack the Ripper running Scotland Yard, or Charles
Manson running a criminal investigation of the NYPD. It’s an inherent
contradiction in terms.
“We are beginning to see the abnormal stuff that
takes place as normal,” Prosor said.
“And we need to say: ‘Just a second
– this is completely abnormal.’ The abnormality here has become something which
is a state of mind – on issues like human rights and Durban, we really have to
fight and make like-minded countries stand up and say, ‘Just a second.’”