Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in New York on Tuesday hoping to convince the international community of the need for one standard in fighting terrorism, only to be greeted by a speech from the head of the UN that slammed Israel and made no mention of Palestinian terrorism.
“As a friend of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, it pains me that this past decade has been 10 years lost to peace,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “Ten years lost to illegal settlement expansion. Ten years lost to intra-Palestinian divide, growing polarization and hopelessness. This is madness.”
US President Barack Obama, in his farewell address to the UN, also made no mention of Palestinian violence in the one sentence he devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, referring instead to Palestinian incitement.
“Surely Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land,” Obama said.
Netanyahu, just before leaving for New York where he will meet with both Obama and Ban on the margins of the General Assembly meeting that began Tuesday, said Israel expects the international community to have “one standard” in the war against terrorism, hinting at a double standard the world uses when it comes to terrorism against Israelis.
In a preview of what is likely to be one of the main themes of his address, and in the wake of the recent uptick in stabbing attacks, Netanyahu said he will “speak Israel’s truth there. I will speak about Israel’s justice and heroism, the heroism of our soldiers, police officers and citizens who are waging an uncompromising struggle against cruel terrorism.
“I expect one standard from the international community in the war against terrorism,” he said. “The international community says there is a need to fight terrorism with determination and in an uncompromising manner.
Therefore they also need to support Israel’s determined and uncompromising struggle against terrorism.” Moral clarity, he said, “is essential to fight and defeat terrorism.”
In addition to meeting Obama on Wednesday afternoon, and Ban the next day, Netanyahu will also meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and a number of still unnamed African leaders.
UN Ambassador Danny Danon slammed Ban for his comments, saying the “real madness belongs to the UN.”
“Instead of focusing on Palestinian terror and incitement, and instead of compelling [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table, the secretary-general chose to criticize Israel once again,” he continued. “This is an obsession with Israel and it must end.”
Danon has called Ban out multiple times over his first year at the UN for statements directed against Israel.
Just last week, after Ban criticized Netanyahu for releasing a video accusing Palestinians of attempting to conduct ethnic cleansing of Jews in a future Palestinian state, Danon responded that Ban had a “distorted view of the situation in Israel.”
“Instead of directly condemning Hamas for building tunnels and a terrorist infrastructure, instead of investing resources in stopping Palestinian incitement and terrorism, the secretary-general has chosen to regularly condemn Israel,” he added.
One top PMO staffer who will not be sitting in on the meeting with Obama is media adviser Ran Baratz, whose appointment to the more senior position as head of the National Information Directorate was thwarted last year after a number of very critical Facebook posts he wrote about Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry and President Reuven Rivlin came to light.
Those posts were exposed last November, just prior to Netanyahu’s last meeting with the US president. Netanyahu, who came under a barrage of criticism for the appointment, suspended it just before flying to Washington, and only in June – after facing difficulties getting the appointment through the Civil Services Commission – did he finally bring Baratz on board as a media adviser.
Since then Baratz has been working quietly behind the scenes, though not traveling with Netanyahu.
He did not accompany Netanyahu either on his trip to Africa in July, nor his quick visit to the Netherlands earlier this month.
The Prime Minister’s Office provided no explanation as to why Baratz was not joining Netanyahu in New York, for what the premier himself said was “a very important diplomatic week for Israel.”