The United Nations should focus its attention on combating Islamic radicalism instead of “automatic Israel bashing,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting US congressmen on Monday.
“We’re closely following the events on the Golan Heights where al-Nusra [Front] terrorists have kidnapped UN peacekeepers,” Netanyahu told Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), according to a statement released by the Government Press Office.
Al-Nusra Front fighters took control of the Quneitra crossing between Israel and Syria last week and subsequently took Fijian peacekeepers hostage, and attacked Philippine UNDOF soldiers.
The Filipinos, occupying two UN camps, fought the rebels on Saturday. A first group of 35 peacekeepers was then successfully escorted out of one camp by Irish and Filipino forces in armored vehicles.
The remaining 40 peacekeepers were besieged at the second camp by more than 100 gunmen who rammed the camp’s gates with their trucks and fired mortar rounds. The Filipinos returned fire in self-defense, Philippine military officials said.
“What we see is that al-Nusra, Hamas, Hezbollah — backed by Iran, al-Qaeda and these other terrorists groups are basically defying all international norms, breaking them whether in Lebanon, in Syria or in Gaza,” Netanyahu said.
“I think the UN would do itself a great favor if, instead of the automatic Israel bashing, they actually turn their attention and their investigative committees against these terrorists who trample every norm on which the UN was founded,” he continued, referring to harsh criticism from the UN of Israel’s recent campaign in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu called for a joint international effort to combat radical Islamist groups that “threaten our societies and our civilization.”
Rohrabacher endorsed the call for an international effort to combat Islamist extremism, saying that Israel is “the one force for stability and one force for a long-term peace for this region. The rest of the region is awash in tyranny and injustice and gangsterism and terrorism that’s coming from the top, from these people that are running the various organizations, radical Islamic organizations.” He called the unspecified groups a threat to world peace and the security of the US.
AP contributed to this report.