UN chief distances himself from Palestinian summit on 50 years of occupation
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Speakers linked to Hamas and PFLP said set to participate

UN chief distances himself from Palestinian summit on 50 years of occupation

Spokesman for António Guterres says meeting, protested by Israel over alleged terror ties of 2 participants, has nothing to do with his office

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres attends a fundraising summit in Kampala, June 23, 2017. (AFP/MICHAEL O'HAGAN)
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres attends a fundraising summit in Kampala, June 23, 2017. (AFP/MICHAEL O'HAGAN)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres indicated that a summit organized by a pro-Palestinian UN group to mark five decades of Israeli control of the West Bank did not have the blessing of his office.

Israel’s envoy to the UN Danny Danon had earlier protested to 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 Palestinian terror groups Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

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.

Answering questions about the forum, Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for Guterres, said Wednesday that his office was “aware of the position of the Israeli Government.”

“They’ve communicated with the Secretary‑General’s Office,” he said. “This is a meeting that is being organized by a committee of the membership. It is not something that is being sponsored by the Secretariat. I think any questions as to the invitees and the way the meeting is organized should be directed to the members of the committee.”

Israel ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses the UN Security Council on January 17, 2017 (Courtesy)
Israel ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses the UN Security Council on January 17, 2017 (Courtesy)

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 for Human Rights Organization “works together regularly with the Hamas terrorist organization.”

Representatives of Al Haq and the Al Mezan Center were scheduled to participate in the forum on Friday.

Hamas and 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 in Jerusalem in which Israeli border policewoman Hadas Malka was stabbed to death.

“The UN is colluding with supporters of terror seeking to harm Israel,” Danon said in the statement. “It is beyond comprehension that UN funds are supporting organizations which aid terrorists and incite against Israel. We call on the Secretary General to intervene immediately and prevent these individuals from appearing at the UN.”

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 said 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…”

Israeli singer Sarit Hadad performs at an event to mark fifty years since the reunification of Jerusalem organized by the Israeli delegation to the United Nations and held at the UN headquarters in New York, June 27, 2017. (Israel UN delegation/Mark Von Holden)
Israeli singer Sarit Hadad performs at an event to mark fifty years since the reunification of Jerusalem organized by the Israeli delegation to the United Nations and held at the UN headquarters in New York, June 27, 2017. (Israel UN delegation/Mark Von Holden)

During the Wednesday press briefing Dujarric was also quizzed about a celebration event 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.

Durarric 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.

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