Palestine and Israel in war of words at UN

Palestine and Israel in war of words at UN
Palestine's bid for UN recognition appears to be paying off.
3 min read
16 January, 2015
Palestine's UN ambassador, Riyad Mansour, has been pushing for UN recognition [Getty]

The UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs, Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, has criticised Israel for the continued oppression of Palestinians.

"Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis have taken the steps, or made the bold decisions, required to begin the process of reversing the ever-widening trust deficit between the two sides," he told the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Thursday.

Strong words

For more than four hours, the council debated the situation in the Middle East.

Toyberg-Frandzen called on Israel stop demolishing the homes of Palestinians and to cease its expansion of illegal settlements on occupied land.

He also called on Israel to immediately hand over $127 million in tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for December.

Toyberg-Frandzen asserted that the Gaza Strip reconstruction efforts have been insufficient and slow.

"Donors have largely failed to fulfil their pledges," he said.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, told the Security Council about the recent Palestinian draft resolution to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank within three years.

The UN Security Council rejected the resolution when Australia and the US voted against it.

Pushing for statehood

Mansour said that the Palestinian delegation would again submit a similar draft resolution to the Security Council.

"Palestinians can wait no more. They have been waiting for seven decades," he said about Palestine's bid for international recognition.

He added that the Palestinian draft resolution, which was presented by Jordan, was consistent with previous UNSC resolutions on Palestine.

Mansour said that the previous draft resolution was dealt with "illogically" and "unreasonably".

"In spite of this setback, we will continue to approach the Security Council," he said.

The Palestinian ambassador did not give a date for the next diplomatic manoeuvre.

     Palestinians can wait no more. They have been waiting for seven decades.
 - Riyad Mansour

He also criticised the US for its opposition to the Palestinians joining the Rome Treaty and the International Criminal Court (ICC) - saying this was "wrong and counterproductive".

He said the world should view the situation in Palestine as one of a colonial entity occupying people.

"Israel carries out its practices and crimes against the Palestinians without international accountability," he said.

Mansour held the Israeli government responsible for the situation of Gaza due to its blockade of the coastal enclave. He called on the international community to lift the siege of Gaza, and push for borders to be opened.

He also described Israel's holding of Palestinian tax revenues as "theft", "vulgarity" and "illegal".

Blame game

The Israeli UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, attempted to deflect attention away from the accusations by concentrating on the Charlie Hebdo murders.

He described the attacks in Paris as against "our values and freedom", and compared the attackers to Boko Haram in Nigeria.

He also launched a scathing attack against UN support for Palestinian ICC membership.

"The Palestinians are under the impression that the UN is their personal vending machine - they can insert grievances and dispense claims against Israel at will.

"Ever since the UN voted to accept the Palestinians as a non-member observer state in 2012, the Palestinians have discovered that the UN is the gift that keeps on giving," he said.

He described the Palestinian leadership of running away from negotiations, placing hurdles into the peace process, to protract the conflict between the two states.

Violence was the responsibility of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he added, accusing him of incitement.

"His speeches have sparked dozens of violent riots. Palestinian terrorists have shot and stabbed our citizens and driven their cars into crowds of pedestrians. The wave of terrorism shows no sign of abating," he said.

He described Palestinian demands for the right of Palestinians to return to their homes in Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders as "unrealistic delusions".

He also accused "the rich Gulf states" of not fulfilling their promises to reconstruct Gaza - and accused Qatar and Iran of financing and supporting Hamas.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.