Israel UN envoy Ron Prosor at the UN 390.
(photo credit: Screenshot Al Jazeera)
NEW YORK – Early this month, Ann Dismorr, director of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Lebanon, stood in front of cameras holding a map of Israel labeled “Arab Palestine.” Framed in green and black and shoddily printed, the projected Palestinian state is shown surrounded by countries with modern borders: Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Israeli officials are well used to seeing maps of their region rebranded by hostile neighbors. But Ron Prosor, ambassador to the United Nations, drew a line last week at any semblance of the practice’s legitimization by UN officials.
Since the photo opportunity in Lebanon on May 3, Prosor has pursued a campaign calling out Dismorr and UNRWA, starting off with a letter to US Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“Many in the international community doubt UNRWA’s impartiality and motives,” the letter reads. “Israel supports UNRWA’s important humanitarian work; however, actions that encourage incitement, conflict and, ultimately, violence undermine this work.”
Prosor has stood by his position despite strong denials from UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, who has avoided directly addressing the ambassador’s concerns.
“The map in question is an embroidery depicting a pre-1948 map and therefore antedates the creation of the state of Israel,” said Gunness, “categorically rejecting” the claims that he said were circulating through media reports.
“The allegations are therefore completely false,” Gunness said.
Prosor responded by noting that the map of the Israeli state was not just labeled “Palestine,” but was presented under the banner of the PLO flag.
“It’s quite something for UNRWA to insist that the map predates the creation of Israel, given that the PLO only adopted this flag in 1964,” Prosor said.
He also noted that the map refers to the land as “Arab Palestine,” and not the historical “British Mandate for Palestine.”
“UNRWA’s grasp of history and geography is nothing short of appalling,” the ambassador said.