‘UNHRC denies us right to self-defense'

Israel's UN ambassador attacks council as damaging peace effort, unbalanced.

Anti-aircraft cannons in Gaza mosque 311 (photo credit: Malam)
Anti-aircraft cannons in Gaza mosque 311
(photo credit: Malam)
Israel charged Monday that the United Nations Human Rights Council does not believe it has the right to self defense against the rockets which Gaza Palestinians launch against its citizens on the southern border.
"You have done nothing about it and you expect that Israel does nothing either," said Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Roni Leshno Yaar.
He spoke during a day-long debate about Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza. Later this week, the council is expected to vote on four resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
One resolution affirms the Palestinian right to self-determination. A second initiates the creation of an independent committee to monitor compliance by Israel and the Palestinians with the Goldstone Report's call for both parties to hold independent transparent investigations into human rights abuses during Israel's military incursion in Gaza in January 2009 and the Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli citizens.
Two other resolutions accuse Israel of a host of human rights abuses against Palestinians and take it to task for continued settlement building, including in east Jerusalem.
For hours, one country after another attacked Israel's treatment of Palestinians, while few said anything about the rockets or the continued captivity of Gilad Schalit, who has been held by Hamas in Gaza since June 2006.
In his second speech of the day, Leshno Yaar noted that even South African Jurist Richard Goldstone had stated that "the firing of these rockets are war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity."
Only last Thursday, he said, one such rocket killed a Thai citizen Manee Singueanphon, who was working in an Israeli greenhouse located near the Gaza border.
Israel is committed to a two-state solution, said Leshno Yaar. He warned that the work of the council and the statements made in its chamber have harmed efforts to actualize that vision.
"This council has not built hope, confidence or done anything to bring the sides closer together. If anything, it has done the opposite, nurturing bitterness and anger, mistrust and suspicion," said Leshno Yaar.
He accused council members of disproportionately focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a way to shift the UN's focus away from their own human rights issues.
The debate, such as the one held on Monday, said Leshno Yaar, "comesnot from a genuine hope to improve the lives of Palestinians orIsraelis but only a dubious urge to lash out at Israel."
Hereminded the council that the state of Israel is the national home ofthe Jewish people who returned to their land after 2,000 years.
PLOambassador to the UN Ibrahim Khraishi quickly retorted that one couldonly imagine what would happen if this occurred in Canada, the UnitedStates and Australia.
He charged that the conflict was fueled byIsrael's continued occupation of the West Bank, including eastJerusalem. Khraishi said that Palestinians had no intention ofreturning to the negotiating table until Israel had halted constructionin the West Bank and reversed its decision to push forward plans forthe construction of 1,600 new Jewish homes in east Jerusalem.
Heaccused Israel of a vast array of wrongs, including its closure of thepassages into Gaza to all but humanitarian aid, its continuedconstruction of the security barrier on what he said was Palestinian land, itsarcheological digs on the Temple Mount, and the continued detention ofPalestinian prisoners, including in some cases bodies.