UN Ambassador calls Palestinian Solidarity Day 'one-sided narrative'

UN Ambassador calls Pale

Israel's top official at the United Nations charged the General Assembly on Tuesday with undermining efforts toward a two-state solution by embracing a one-sided condemnation of Israel during the UN's "Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People." In response to bruising speeches against Israel at the United Nations during the two-day event on Monday and Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev recalled the 1947 vote that paved the way for the creation of two states. "Thirty-three for. Thirteen against. Ten abstentions. The resolution was approved," she said. While the Jewish population in the region accepted the resolution, the Arab side rejected UN Resolution 181, launching a war against Israel and setting the stage for the current conflict. "Today, the Arabs' historic mistake of rejecting Resolution 181 is also measured in lives lost in war, parents who bury their children and pain that has touched us all - Israelis and Arabs alike," Shalev said. Reiterating Israel's desire for peace, she lambasted the UN's harsh criticism of Israel. "How can it be, then, that the debate in these halls embraces a one-sided narrative that promotes and maintains an obsessive and condemnatory focus on Israel?" she asked. "Today's debate undermines the endorsement of the two-state solution. It reflects the reality of an automatic majority that ensures that any debate on the situation in the Middle East shall be unfruitful, destructive, cynical and hateful." The two-day solidarity event, held annually since 1977, generated several resolutions sharply critical of Israel. In speeches before the Assembly, many member states condemned Israel and its treatment of Palestinian civilians, citing both alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead 11 months ago, as well as Israel's policy on settlements. Shalev cited Israel's recent announcement of a policy of settlement restraint as an indicator of Israel's desire to resume peace talks, its commitment to peace and its willingness to take "painful and effective" steps toward that end. "Israel wants to reach a historic peace agreement and will discuss peace at any time, anywhere and without preconditions," she said. "We want to hear the Palestinian Authority say that it, too, will discuss peace any time, anywhere, without preconditions." She concluded by reminding the Assembly about the Iranian threat. "Iran funds, trains and supports global terrorism, including Hamas' and Hizbullah's relentless attacks on Israeli men, women and children," she said. "Iran must be stopped." A day earlier, the Palestinian representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, delivered a harsh attack on Israel in a speech accusing Israel of humanitarian violations and collective punishment against Palestinian civilians. He also called on the Security Council to take immediate action against Israel. "Israel's daily actions on the ground prove that it does not want to take one step towards a comprehensive agreement, and is realizing its settlement scheme in the West Bank and Jerusalem in blatant violation of international law," Mansour said. He alleged severe humanitarian violations by Israel, emphasizing the plight of Palestinian civilians during Israel's military operation in Gaza last winter. Mansour said Israel's policies, particularly on settlements, were hindering peace negotiations. "Israel, the occupying power, continues to deny the rights of the Palestinian people and to breach international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law," he said. "At the same time, it continues its illegal colonial settlements through the construction and expansion of settlements. "There will be no peace and security in the Middle East as long as the question of Palestine remains unsolved," he said. "It cannot be achieved as long as Israel defies the law." He concluded by noting that Palestinians were committed to peace, and calling on UN bodies and the Security Council to take immediate action against Israel. "The international community's failure to hold Israel accountable has reinforced Israel's impunity and lawlessness against defenseless Palestinian people," he said. In a series of harsh speeches against Israel on Monday and Tuesday, other envoys of UN member states criticized Israel and its settlement policy. "The fact that after all these years the question of Palestine awaits peaceful settlement weighs heavily on the United Nations," said GA President Ali Treki of Libya on Monday. "This day should also remind us that the human cost of the Middle East conflict is borne by the Palestinian people, [and] the suffering will continue until the question of Palestine is resolved and the right of the Palestinian people to their land is realized."