Haley says Iran, not Israel, bears blame for Mideast crisis – The Columbian

In her first session holding the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley tried to turn the spotlight from Israel to Iran, the latest target of the Trump administration’s tough talk. It wasn’t easy.

“If we are speaking honestly about conflict in the Middle East, we need to start with the chief culprit, Iran, and its partner militia, Hezbollah,” Haley told the Security Council on Thursday. “For decades they have conducted terrorist acts across the region.”

For the past two weeks, Haley had encouraged nations attending the quarterly open meeting on “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” to tackle Tehran’s role in Yemen and Syria and its support for Hezbollah, topics she sees as more central to the theme of Middle East peace.

Few nations appeared to go along with Haley’s attempt to shift the discussion. In the early hours of the debate, Iran was seldom raised.

We need “to achieve justice based on the two-state solution in accordance with Security Council resolutions,” said Egypt’s Ambassador Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The current situation has become a “regressive status quo,” he added.

Haley’s effort comes in a week in which the Trump administration has aimed sharp criticism at Iran. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tore into the Islamic Republic’s 2015 agreement with world powers that curbed its nuclear program, saying it only delayed the day when Iran will get a nuclear weapon and “completely ignored” the Islamic Republic’s other actions.

The Security Council has kept an often critical focus on Israel for years, and Arab nations — including U.S. allies — resisted shifting that emphasis. Israel’s settlement policies were criticized at the Security Council.

Nickolay Mladenov of Bulgaria, the U.N.’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, touched on conflicts and instability in Syria and Lebanon but focused primarily on the Israel-Palestine conflict in his report to the council. He urged that Israel’s settlement construction, which is illegal under international law, be halted.

“The question of Palestine remains a potent symbol and rallying cry that is easily misappropriated and exploited by extremist groups,” Mladenov said. “Ending the occupation and realizing a two-state solution will not solve all the region’s problems, but as long as the conflict persists, it will continue to feed them.”

Haley says Iran, not Israel, bears blame for Mideast crisis – The Columbian}

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