Israeli cries of antisemitism are a ploy to distract public attention from its apartheid practices, Palestinian Authority Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday.
“This council might not be ready to use the word, but apartheid is and has been for a while now, our reality,” Mansour said.
“Israel may be outraged by the word apartheid. Everyone else should be outraged by the policy,” Mansour said during the UNSC’s monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in New York.
He gave a speech devoted to charging Israel with the crime of apartheid, that included a long line of Israeli discriminatory practices. He punctuated the end of each line with the phrase, “it’s apartheid.”
To underscore the point, he wore a black face mask with the words, “end apartheid.”
Mansour said that “if Israel could challenge the facts or challenge the law it would not resort to such ruthless smear campaigns, Mansour said.
Israel has proclaimed that action that ought to be condemned under international law is acceptable when committed by Israel, “loudly declaring that anything else would be pure antisemitism,” Mansour said.
He also took issue with the speech Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan delivered last month, in which he brought a stone brick into the UNSC to underscore the daily Palestinian attacks against civilians in the West Bank.
“I am terribly sorry, but the door of this chamber could not fit Israeli F-16s, tanks, warships, military jeeps, drones, bombs and missiles and all of their mighty military arsenal,” Mansour said.
He spoke weeks after Amnesty International issued a report charging Israel with the crime of apartheid and in advance of a report by a UN Human Rights Council open-ended Commission of Inquiry, that is expected to focus on the question of Israeli apartheid.
Israel is the single member of the UN’s 193 member states, against which such an open-ended probe has been established.
Erdan recalled that the UNHRC had formed the COI immediately after the Gaza war in May, in which the “radical terror organization” Hamas deliberately fired rockets against Israeli civilians with the aim of destroying the country.
Neither the UNSC nor the UNHRC has designated Hamas a terror group, Erdan said.
Instead, the UNHRC has focused on Israel to “whitewash and ignore the inhuman crimes” that its members are committing, Erdan said.
The COI’s budget is nearly double that of one-time investigations into human rights violations in Syria or Venezuela, Erdan explained.
“Can anyone honestly look me in the eye and tell me that Israel is not the most discriminated member state at the UN?,” he asked.
The problem is not just in the UN, Erdan said, but also with non-governmental groups such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch that published reports accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid. These groups “have chosen to launch a Jihad war against the only vibrant democracy in the Middle East,” Erdan said.
These NGOs have not acted alone, Erdan explained. “Their accusations are part of a “joint campaign between these organizations and the Palestinians with the mission of delegitimizing Israel as a Jewish democratic state,” Erdan stated.
Israel is a country with a vibrant Arab society, that includes doctors, parliamentarians and ministers, Erdan said.
“Can anyone honestly look me in the eye and tell me that Israel, a country that protects the social and political equality of all of its citizens, is guilty of systematic injustice?” he asked.