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US distances itself from Netanyahu’s UNHRC criticism

State Department also ‘would not agree with characterization’ that ISIS, Iran, and Hamas share goal of establishing international Islamic caliphate

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil is the Times of Israel's Washington correspondent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before the UN General Assembly on September 29, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before the UN General Assembly on September 29, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube)

NEW YORK — State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday distanced Washington from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s characterization of a UN body as a terror-supporting organization Monday.

Speaking shortly after Netanyahu’s speech before the plenary of the United Nations General Assembly, Psaki didn’t criticize the premier’s address, but did say that the US disagreed with some of the characterizations he made.

Although Psaki noted that the US had also voiced criticism of the United Nations Human Rights Council for its frequent criticism of Israel, she also said that the US “would not agree” with Netanyahu’s characterization of the human rights body as “the terrorists’ rights council,” after he also labeled it “an oxymoron.”

Psaki said that while the US views ISIS and Hamas as terror organizations, the US “obviously believes that ISIS poses a different threat to the United States,” and added that the US did not see the speech as indicating that “Netanyahu or anybody else from Israel is suggesting that the US launch a military campaign against Hamas.”

She also said that the US “would not agree with the characterization” made in Netanyahu’s speech that ISIS, Iran, and Hamas share similar goals of establishing an international Islamic caliphate.

The State Department spokeswoman also sought to allay concerns voiced by Netanyahu that Western states were subject to a “manipulative charm offensive” by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. “Once Iran produces atomic bombs, the charm and smiles will disappear,” Netanyahu warned.

But Psaki emphasized that “any agreement that would be achieved will not be the result of a charm offensive, but based on facts and details.”

“Whether or not Iran has increased its PR campaign, our discussion and negotiation toward a comprehensive [nuclear] agreement is not impacted by that,” she added.

Pressed as to the intentions behind her condemnation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s address to the UN last week, Psaki emphasized that she did not seek to imply that one side or the other was responsible for the breakdown of peace talks five months ago.

“There was the use of some terminology [in Abbas’s speech] that we felt we needed to speak to,” Psaki explained, but would not detail which terminology she meant.

The State Department is believed to have taken exception to Abbas’s claims that Israel had committed “war crimes” and “genocide” during this summer’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.

“It is our view that the peace process wasn’t moving forward because of both parties,” Psaki said, rejecting claims that her condemnation of Abbas’s speech was done to placate Israel in advance of the upcoming meeting between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.

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