Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Thursday slammed the Palestinian Authority after a senior Palestinian official told an event marking “50 years of occupation” that groups like Hamas are not terrorists.
“They have no shame. These are lies and incitement from those who are paying terrorists to kill innocent Israelis. These obsessive attempts to besmirch our good name will not change the fact that the Palestinian leadership refuses to end their support for terror,” Danon said.
Israel has been vociferously protesting payments from the Palestinian Authority to terrorists sitting in Israeli jails and to their families and those of Palestinians killed while carrying out terror attacks against Israelis.
Danon’s remarks came in response to comments by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who reportedly said that Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian “are not terrorist organizations” and that the key to defeating the Islamic State is to end the “occupation.”
Earlier, Danon had protested to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres against the “United Nations Forum to Mark Fifty Years of Occupation” because, he said, some of the billed participants were from organizations with ties to the Palestinian terror groups Hamas and the PFLP. Guterres indicated on Thursday that the event did not have the blessing of his office.
The two-day meeting, beginning Thursday at UN headquarters in New York, was organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Israel protested the meeting, saying that two of the groups participating, Al Haq and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, had links to terrorist groups.
On Wednesday, Israel’s UN delegation said in a statement that “according to intelligence information” the Al Haq group “collaborates with the PFLP” and the Al Mezan Center “works together regularly with the Hamas terrorist organization.”
Hamas and the PFLP have both carried out numerous attacks on Israeli security forces and civilians. Most recently Hamas and the PFLP claimed responsibility for a June 16 shooting and knife attack outside the Old City of Jerusalem in which Israeli Border Policewoman Hadas Malka was stabbed to death. On Thursday, Danon stood next to a photo of Malka as he spoke.
Announcing the event, organizers said the first day’s sessions “would focus on political issues, while the second day’s meetings… would focus on civil society.
“On 29 June, the Forum would highlight the need to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, including Jerusalem, while also providing a platform for the discussion of ideas and concrete steps for ending the occupation,” the organizers wrote in a press release issued under UN auspices.
“On 30 June, the Forum would focus on mobilizing international support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people….”
During a Wednesday press briefing Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for Guterres, was also quizzed about a celebration on Tuesday organized by Israel’s delegation at the UN’s New York headquarters to mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem following the June 1967 Six Day War during which Israel gained control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and other territories.
Dujarric referred to his previous sentiments regarding the Palestinian summit and said, “As I answered… events organized by member states, whether collectively or one by one, those questions should be addressed to the member states.”
According to the Israeli delegation, ambassadors and diplomats from around the world joined hundreds of participants from the pro-Israel community for the Israeli events, which included a performance by Israeli singer Sarit Hadad.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.