Israel’s UN envoy: If Mali is on France’s doorstep, Gaza is in our living room

At Security Council debate, US ambassador slams Netanyahu’s E1 building plans, stresses Palestine is not a state

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor, left (photo credit: Courtesy/File)
Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor, left (photo credit: Courtesy/File)

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday compared France’s military intervention in northern Africa with Israel’s fight against Islamic terrorism from Gaza.

“France’s foreign minister said this month that his country was fighting to prevent the creation of an Islamist terrorist enclave ‘at the doorstep of France and Europe.’ If Mali is on France’s doorstep, Gaza is in Israel’s living room,” Ron Prosor said at the UN Security Council’s monthly open debate on the Middle East.

“Make no mistakes: France’s principled stand should be commended. We only ask that France and all the countries who are supporting its principled stand today, support Israel tomorrow when we fight Islamic terrorism on our borders.”

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his support for Paris’s intervention in the African nation, during which French warplanes conducted air strikes against Islamist rebels, linked to al-Qaeda, in the country’s north.

“While there are countries for which the threat of terrorism is thousands of kilometers away from the homes of their citizens, we in Israel are familiar with the threat of global terrorism from up close,” Netanyahu told French President Francois Hollande. “For us it is only a few hundred meters away from our homes.”

Prosor, in his address in New York, also expressed the Israeli government’s view that a November upgrade of Palestine to a nonmember observer state has no tangible meaning.

“The only Palestinian state in these halls is the Palestinian state of denial,” Prosor said. “Last month’s resolution did not confer Palestinian statehood. It did not constitute recognition of a Palestinian state.”

The resolution, passed by a vast majority of UN member states (138-9 with 41 abstentions), does not entitle the Palestinians to participate in UN meetings and international conferences, join treaties, or seek membership in international organizations as a state, Prosor added. “The change in terminology and titles risks creating a false impression of Palestinian statehood when no such state exists,” he said, referring to the fact that the UN last month officially changed the way it refers to the body: it’s now the “State of Palestine,” as opposed to merely “Palestine.”

As the American ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice delivered an ardent defense of Israel during the IDF's November operation against Hamas. (Paulo Filgueiras/UN via JTA)
US ambassador Susan Rice (Paulo Filgueiras/UN via JTA)

Aside from a fiery speech by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who blamed Israel of destroying the prospect of a two-state solution, several other speakers at Wednesday’s Security Council session on the Middle East, including some of Israel’s closest allies, reiterated their objection to Jerusalem’s settlement expansion plans.

“We have reiterated our longstanding opposition to Israel’s West Bank settlement activity, as well as construction in East Jerusalem, which run counter to the cause of peace,” US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said. Construction in the E1 area, which connects Jerusalem to Ma’aleh Adumim “would be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution,” she said, “and we have urged Israeli leaders to reconsider these unilateral decisions and to exercise restraint.”

Rice also said that the US “does not consider UNGA resolution 67/19 as bestowing Palestinian ‘statehood’ or recognition.” Adding that  “only direct negotiations to settle final status issues will lead to this outcome. Therefore, in our view, any reference to the ‘State of Palestine’ in the United Nations, including the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’ on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’ in the invitation to this meeting or other arrangements for participation in this meeting, do not reflect acquiescence that ‘Palestine’ is a state.”


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