Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan on Tuesday morning in New York lit a large white memorial candle, then he read out 32 names of those killed by Palestinian violence in the last year; citizens, foreigners, soldiers and police.
“I light this candle to honor them and may their memory be blessed,” the ambassador said.
Then he stood up and walked out of the UN Security Council to protest its decision to conduct its monthly debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on his country’s Remembrance Day for its fallen soldiers and terror victims.
“I refuse to take part in this absurd farce… I refuse to spend this sacred day listening to lies and condemnations. This debate disgraces the fallen, and Israel will not take part in it,” he stated.
“I refuse to take part in this absurd farce… I refuse to spend this sacred day listening to lies and condemnations. This debate disgraces the fallen, and Israel will not take part in it.”Gilad Erdan
Erdan had attempted to sway Russia, which holds this month’s rotating UNSC Presidency, to reschedule the debate for another day. Russia refused and instead sent its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to chair it.
Israel's Erdan: UN debate crosses all lines
“Today’s debate has crossed all lines,” Erdan told the UNSC when he addressed the council. “Not only am I both appalled and outraged to the very depths of my soul, but I am sad – very, very, sad.
“Today is one of the most sacred days of the year” for Israel which pauses to commemorate those lost to violence and who “paid the ultimate price while defending the Jewish homeland.”
He explained how sirens ring out both at night and in the morning, “bringing all activity – even traffic – to a grinding halt so that every Israeli can observe two minutes of solemn silence.
“All restaurants, cafes, and shops shut down, while military cemeteries are filled with hundreds of thousands of visitors paying their respects. Television programming is dedicated solely to films and reels mourning those who fell, while an entire channel runs the names of every single fallen hero,” Erdan said.
“This day holds more sanctity to Israelis than almost any other day of the year,” Erdan said. “Yet while Israelis mourn, this Council – as usual – will hear more blatant lies condemning the State of Israel and falsely painting it as the root of all the region’s problems. This could not be further from the truth,” he added.
Turning to Lavrov, he asked him, what Russia would do if the UNSC met to condemn Russia and its soldiers on the day dedicated to marking its World War II victory over the Nazis.
The council has chosen to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than focusing on the danger to the region and the globe from Iranian terrorism and its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program, Erdan said.