UNSC Middle East debate shifts focus off of Israel for first time in years

“Peace will only come from direct negotiations not from one sided security council meetings and one sided resolutions."

UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East, April 20, 2017
NEW YORK – For the first time in years, the United Nations Security Council’s monthly debate on the Middle East and the Palestinian question did not focus exclusively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a breath of fresh air for the Israeli Mission to the UN.
As president of the council for the month of April, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley had clearly announced her intentions of shifting the nature of the debate earlier this month, explaining it would revolve around issues such as Iran’s support for terrorism, the Syrian crisis, Hezbollah and Hamas, among others.
Haley told the council it is “regrettable” that the monthly Middle East discussions often turn into “Israel bashing sessions,” which she believes “doesn’t do anyone in the region any favors, least of all the Israelis and Palestinians.”
“Peace will only come from direct negotiations, not from one-sided security council meetings and one-sided resolutions,” Haley said during the meeting. “By breaking out of old, familiar, counterproductive patterns, we might actually achieve something valuable.”
While many of the member states’ statements included the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ambassadors added more topics to their speeches, including, mainly, the crisis in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon. This was also the case for UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov’s briefing, which opened the session.
After an exchange with the Palestinian representative about the striking Palestinian prisoners in Israel, Ambassador Danny Danon focused much of his address on Iran, which he considers the chief culprit of the conflicts in the Middle East.
“Where there is terror, where there is death, where there is complete disregard for human life, there is Iran,” he said.
Danon called Iran “an accomplice in the atrocities taking place every single day in Syria” and said that it provides support for Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
“To so many members of the UN, foreign aid to Gaza means donations to UNICEF or to the Red Cross. This is money that goes toward clean water and education,” he said.
“For Iran, foreign aid means supplying deadly missiles and training terrorists. We are warning that an alliance of evil, with Iran at its center, is spreading throughout the Middle East.”
Danon added that he welcomes the efforts to widen the scope of the Security Council’s meetings.