Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told incoming UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres on Friday that he hoped for fairer treatment of Israel at the international body on his watch.
Guterres will officially assume the role on January 1, 2017, when Ban Ki-moon’s second term as UN chief comes to an end.
In his conversation with Guterres, Netanyahu raised Thursday’s UNESCO vote on a resolution that failed to mention the connection of Jews and Christians to holy sites in Jerusalem, calling it a move that emphasizes the biased and one-sided conduct of the UN toward the only democracy in the tumultuous Middle East.
The conversation came as members of the United Nations Security Council convened a special meeting titled “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution.”
The meeting, an initiative of Egypt, Malaysia, Senegal, Angola and Venezuela, was conducted in the Arria Formula (informal) format.
The head of Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem, Hagai El-Ad, lambasted Israel’s settlement policy at the meeting, and urged the Security Council to act to rein Israel in.
“With every breath the Palestinians take they are breathing an occupation. Israel cannot call itself a democracy while occupying another people,” he said.
Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now added that “Israeli policy in the settlements is ending the chance for peace. I call on the Security Council to send a message to Israel and to end this policy.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon harshly criticized the two organizations for taking part in the session, citing the UNESCO resolution as proof of UN bias towards the Palestinians.
“After anti-Israel forces approved a resolution intending to sever the historical bond between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, Israeli organizations chose to slander and besmirch Israel’s good name at an event organized by the Palestinian delegation,” Danon said in a statement. “We will continue to fight and tell the truth about Israel despite the attempts to spread lies about us. It is unfortunate that Israeli organizations have joined the Palestinian attempts to wage diplomatic terror against Israel at the UN.”
According to Danon’s office, a note circulated by the organizers before the event stated that the prospects for a two-state solution were being jeopardized by “the presence and continuing growth of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land occupied by Israel since June 1967.” The memo also said that Israeli security forces “routinely oversee acts of settler violence against Palestinian civilians, denying protection to the occupied population.”