United Nations Security Council members must condemn Hamas rockets against Israel rather than perpetually condemning the Jewish state, US special envoy Jason Greenblatt said Thursday at the UN in New York as he issued a blistering defense of Israel.
“Instead of seeking accountability for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – terrorist groups that seek to blackmail the Israeli people through mass violence while putting the lives of the Palestinians of Gaza at risk – we are rehashing tired talking points, some 20 years old,” Greenblatt said.
In an unusual move, he made an appearance at an informal Security Council gathering, known as an Arria-formula meeting. It was organized by Indonesia, which holds the council’s rotating presidency this month.
Indonesia invited four guest speakers to brief UNSC members on the illegality of West Bank settlement activity, as well as inviting Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki to ad-dress the gathering. Israel was not invited to speak.
The meeting was held on Israel’s 71st Independence Day. It also occurred just days after four Israeli civilians were killed by Hamas rockets in southern Israel.
“Where is the urgent condemnation from this room for that unconscionable, sustained attack? Where is the sympathy and the solidarity for the people of Israel? All I hear is silence,” Green-blatt said.
He spoke of the Trump administration’s failure during the last two years to sway the United Nations – including the Security Council – to condemn Hamas terror against Israel or Hamas violence against the Palestinians in Gaza.
“It is baffling and disappointing to see the obvious, continual anti-Israel bias here. Here we are in an Arria session to condemn Israel – in the same halls where just a few months ago, member states failed to condemn Hamas, a known terrorist organization that just a few days ago fired close to 700 rockets at Israel, including at hospitals and schools,” Greenblatt said.
“It is truly shameful that in these halls there have been nearly 700 resolutions condemning actions of Israel – the region’s only real democracy – yet not one condemning Hamas’s attacks on Israelis or its abuse and neglect of the very people it purports to govern,” he said.
Looking beyond Gaza, he said, the UNSC has never held an “Arria or session of any kind focused on Palestinian terrorism or incitement.”
Greenblatt rejected the idea that West Bank settlements were a stumbling block to peace.
“Let’s stop pretending that settlements are what is keeping the sides from a negotiated, peaceful solution. This farce and obsessive focus on one aspect of this complicated conflict helps no one,” Greenblatt said.
What is an “obstacle to peace,” Greenblatt said, is the Palestinian Authority practice of giving monetary grants as a “reward” to terrorists and their families. He chastised those council member states which have continued to provide direct financial support to the PA.
“What would you do if a neighboring government offered lifelong bounties for the killing of your citizens? The focus should be on ending the practice of incentivizing terrorists, rather than how we can support the PA budget,” Greenblatt said.
WHEN Malki addressed the 15 UNSC members, he charged that the goal of the Israeli measures in the West Bank, including the settlement building, was the fragmentation of Palestinian territory and its eventual annexation.
“Israel does not hide any more the true colonial nature of its occupation and its intention to annex Palestinian land,” Malki said. This kind of “colonialism” was prohibited by the UN charter, UN resolutions and international criminal law, he added.
“What shall prevail: illegal settlements or UN Security Council resolutions ... what shall prevail: war crimes or the Rome Statute?” Malki asked.
The only bias against Israel on this issue is the one that shields it from liability, he said.
Malki called on UN member states to do more to halt Israeli settlement activity, by refusing to have any dealings with the settlements or by refusing to recognize Israeli sovereignty in east Jerusalem.
The international community must ensure Israeli accountability for its illegal actions – “as impunity is the greatest obstacle to peace,” Malki said.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who chaired the meeting, added that, “inaction was not an option. Public pressure to end the settlement is absolutely vital.”
A way should be found to ensure that Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 lines, including in east Jerusalem, she said.
Marsudi suggested the creation of an “international day of solidarity with the victims of illegal settlement... Indonesia will spare no effort to ensure that the Palestinian issue remains one of the main focuses of the UN.”
Israeli settlement activity is an obstacle to peace, is a pretext for human rights violations against Palestinians and jeopardizes the two-state solution, she said.
JAMES ZOGBY, president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, told the council that the US was complicit with Israeli settlement activity.
“A new strategy is needed – not just to challenge Israel, but to challenge the impunity the US has bestowed on Israel that makes it unaccountable” for its behavior in the Palestinian territories, Zogby said.
“There has been a steady erosion of US policy on Israeli settlements,” he said. It went from “rejection to acceptance,” and “from passive acquiescence to legitimization.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon issued a statement after the meeting in which he said that, “the Palestinian leadership repeats the same lies against Israel while it continues to pay salaries to terrorists.”
“This policy has only led to more UN discussions, but not to a future for its people. The international community must renounce the PA’s culture of terrorism and incitement, and not con-done this policy,” Danon said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter to acknowledge Greenblatt’s UN comments.
“Thank you @jdgreenblatt45 for once again telling basic truths about Israel at the UN. Unfortunately, it is still much needed there,” Netanyahu wrote.
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