Israel faces bias at UN, Ban acknowledges

‘It’s an unfortunate situation,’ secretary general tells students in Jerusalem

Benjamin Netanyahu, left, shaking hands with Ban Ki-moon in Jerusalem in August 2013. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90/File)
Benjamin Netanyahu, left, shaking hands with Ban Ki-moon in Jerusalem in August 2013. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90/File)

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon admitted on Friday that Israel suffers from prejudice and even discrimination at his international organization.

Speaking to students participating in Rishon Lezion College of Management’s Model UN program at the UN Headquarters in Jerusalem, Ban spoke candidly about the world body’s attitude toward Israel.

“Unfortunately, because of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, Israel’s been weighed down by criticism and suffered from bias — and sometimes even discrimination,” Ban told the group, YNet reported. He was responding to a student who claimed Israelis felt their country was discriminated against at the UN.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Ban said, adding that Israel should be treated equal to all the other 192 member states.

The secretary general also told the group that his visit to the region, his sixth, was his way of showing support for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

He noted that a peace process is more than just a “piece of paper,” referring to the failed Oslo Accords.

“This time, I expect real peace,” Ban said, stressing that negotiations are the best way to reach a two-state solution. “The Israeli and Palestinian people are neighbors and have no choice but to live in harmony and peace, side by side.”

Earlier Friday, Ban met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told the UN head that Palestinian refusal to recognize that Israel is a Jewish state is the core issue keeping the sides from reaching a peace agreement — deflecting claims that settlement construction was the main roadblock.

Netanyahu’s comments came less than a week after Israel came under heavy international pressure for announcing that it would approve the construction of thousands of new homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a move some Palestinian officials said could derail the peace talks before they got off the ground.

Netanyahu also called on Ban to investigate a recent report that Gaza and West Bank summer camps funded by the UN were being used to indoctrinate children against Israelis and Jews.

UN Watch, a human rights NGO that monitors anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiment at the international body, often reports that Israel receives more criticism and is more excluded from working groups than any other member country.

Also, UN Watch has pointed out that the UN Human Rights Council regularly targets Israel while allowing longtime human rights abusers off the hook. For example, the council passes more resolutions condemning Israel than it does for all the other member countries combined.

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