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Minister raps UN envoy for mischaracterizing her ties with Palestinian counterpart

Erdan uses Security Council speech to claim Israel still waiting for PA response to proposals by Zandberg; Meretz minister says he misrepresented facts

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Gilad Erdan (left) holds a rock during a UN Security Council session on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on January 19, 2022; Meretz Chair Tamar Zandberg (center) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his Ramallah office, on March 10, 2019. (Screenshot/UN; Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Gilad Erdan (left) holds a rock during a UN Security Council session on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on January 19, 2022; Meretz Chair Tamar Zandberg (center) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his Ramallah office, on March 10, 2019. (Screenshot/UN; Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg called out Israeli United Nations Ambassador Gilad Erdan on Thursday, claiming he’d mischaracterized her ties with her Palestinian counterpart during a speech the envoy gave before the Security Council.

In a speech at the monthly Security Council session on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, held Wednesday, Erdan asserted that Ramallah was not interested in cooperating with Jerusalem, referencing a meeting Zandberg held last summer with Palestinian Authority Environment Quality Authority Minister Jamil Mtour.

“This was the first meeting of its kind since 2014. And not because of Israel,” Erdan claimed. “Israel’s Minister Zandberg presented numerous collaborative initiatives regarding the environment and waste management, but Israel is still waiting for a response from the Palestinians.”

Erdan said he had also tried to promote joint environmental initiatives with the PA but that “sadly, the Palestinian leadership had different priorities.”

Zandberg’s office said in a statement to The Times of Israel: “In his speech to the Security Council, the ambassador spoke about information he received from the Environmental Protection Ministry, but he used it in a manner that is incompatible with the truth and in a style that does not represent the minister’s position.”

Zandberg’s office said that contrary to Erdan’s remarks, the sides have already launched joint projects in the fields of “environment and waste” and that “work is progressing well, in a different atmosphere than before, based on the understanding that climate change has no borders and that the two peoples will benefit from this collaborations.”

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg and then-public security minister Gilad Erdan attend a Special Committee meeting on Drug and Alcohol Abuse at the Knesset, on March 6, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“The projects will continue to move forward in the spirit of cooperation for the benefit of the environment and for the benefit of the State of Israel and the Palestinians,” the statement from Zandberg’s office added.

Erdan’s office declined a request for comment.

The spar exposed the political differences between the two Israeli officials. Erdan is a former Likud minister and a holdover in New York from the previous government led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who now chairs the Knesset’s opposition.

Zandberg, on the other hand, is a senior member of the left-wing Meretz party, which has long called for negotiations with the PA to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — an outline that the right-wing Erdan opposes.

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