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 the 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 Middle Eastern conflicts.
“Where there is terror, where there is death, where there is complete disregard for human life, there is Iran,” he said.
Danon pointed out that Iran is “an accomplice in the atrocities taking place every single day in Syria” and that it provides 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 towards 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.
“The time has come to finally put an end to the obsessive focus on Israel,” he said. “It is Israel’s hope that this body will also begin to seek true moral clarity when it comes to the Middle East.”
Palestinian representative to the UN Riyad Mansour, who spoke just before Danon, solely focused on the Palestinian question, and particularly on the resolution condemning Israeli settlements, which passed in December.
“Resolution 2334 is not anti-Israel; it is anti-settlements, anti-violence, anti-violation of international law, and is thus actually and clearly pro-peace and pro-two-States – Palestine and Israel – and was globally welcomed as such.”
Mansour called for the “full respect” of the resolution.