Israel to United Nations: Take action against Iran

Prosor rebukes Jerusalem mufti for reciting hadith calling "killing Jews" a "sacred goal."

Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor 311 (photo credit: Shahar Azran)
Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor 311
(photo credit: Shahar Azran)
Iran is the single greatest threat to the world, and the United Nations needs to take action against it immediately, Israel Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor told the Security Council in New York on Tuesday.
“Never has it been so clear Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon,” Prosor said at a regular meeting debating the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian question.
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“Now is the time to act. Tomorrow is too late. The stakes are too high. The price of inaction is too great,” he said.
Prosor cited the last International Atomic Energy Agency report, saying it proved beyond all doubt the Islamic Republic sought to obtain nuclear weapons. He said Tehran’s efforts to enrich uranium to 20 percent-levels at its reactor in Qom could serve no plausible aim other than to develop an atomic bomb.
The Israeli diplomat also rebuked the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Mufti Muhammad Hussein, who in a sermon broadcast on television last week told believers that killing Jews was “a sacred goal” for Muslims.
“His comments were deeply disturbing,” said Prosor. “But what was even more disturbing is that no one from the Palestinian leadership stood up and condemned his comments, denounced his actions or dissociated themselves from his message.”
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice chose to highlight the start of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in Amman earlier this month, the first time the two sides have sat down for talks in years.
She thanked Jordan for hosting the event and said “it is necessary we do everything we can to ensure progress.”
Permanent Observer of Palestine Riyad H. Mansour, who spoke before Prosor, placed the blame for the lack of progress in talks between Israel and the Palestinians squarely on the Israelis.
“We spare no effort for peace despite the many obstacles imposed by the Israeli government,” Mansour said.
He gave a long list of grievances, accusing Israel of expelling Palestinians from the Jordan Valley and violating human rights of Palestinian “shepherds and children.”
He again declared the PA’s bid to seek statehood status at the UN, something that is being debated, saying it would be part of a two-state solution.
During the gathering, Rice also addressed events in Syria where violence between protesters and security forces have left thousands dead. She called again on the government of President Bashar Assad to permit the access of observers to the country and to respect human rights. She said Washington was “concerned [about] recent reports of shipments of arms and munitions to the Syrian regime,” and called for an arms embargo.
Representatives from Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Togo, India and Iran were also set to speak at the gathering.
Rice said Security Council dynamics are no more favorable now to a Palestinian UN membership bid than they were last year, despite a partial change in the council makeup.
In the teeth of strong opposition from the United States and Israel, the PA applied to the council in September for UN membership. But a committee to consider the application failed to reach consensus, and the Palestinians have not so far requested a formal vote in the council.
Addressing a Jewish audience in New York, Rice said that since the committee’s report, the application had essentially stayed there.
“I presume that is because the Palestinians decided that, given the voting outcome in the council, it wasn’t timely to push it to a vote,” she told the governing board of the American Jewish Committee.
“The fact is, nobody knows for sure what the Palestinians will choose to do.”
Asked whether the replacement of five members of the 15-nation council as of January 1 might affect the issue, Rice said, “I think that we are roughly in the same place now as we were last year, and potentially even in a better position.”
A council resolution needs nine votes to pass, and even then can be vetoed by the US, Britain, France, Russia or China. But diplomats said at the time the Palestinians would get only eight votes in support, with other countries voting against or abstaining.
Diplomats say that situation remains despite the changes in the council membership.
Newcomer Azerbaijan is thought likely to support the Palestinian application, whereas its predecessor, Bosnia, was expected to abstain. But Guatemala is unlikely to follow its predecessor, Brazil, in backing the Palestinians. The other three newcomers represent no change.
The Palestinians’ choice is whether to push for a Security Council vote anyway, take the issue to the UN General Assembly – which cannot confer membership but can upgrade their status as observers – or do nothing as contacts continue with Israel over a possible resumption of substantive peace talks.
Rice reaffirmed the US line that a Palestinian state would come only through direct negotiations with Israel, not “through a shortcut at the United Nations.” In her remarks to the AJC, she stressed US backing at the UN for Israel.