ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

search

US, Israel envoys clash over B’Tselem at Security Council forum

Danon says UN funding for NGO ‘directly interferes’ in Jewish state’s democracy, while American counterpart stresses political inclusion

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon addresses the Security Council on October 19, 2016.  (UN Photo)
Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon addresses the Security Council on October 19, 2016. (UN Photo)

The American and Israeli ambassadors to the United Nations publicly disagreed at a Security Council meeting Wednesday, after Israel’s Danny Danon demanded the United Nations end its support for the B’Tselem human rights group, arguing that it “directly interfered” in Israeli democracy.

B’Tselem Director Hagai El-Ad sparked fury in Israel last week, when he urged the Security Council to take immediate action against Israeli settlements at a special session on the occupation.

El-Ad spoke of “invisible, bureaucratic daily violence” that dominates Palestinian life “from cradle to grave,” including Israeli control over entrance and exit from the territories, and farming rights.

Speaking at Wednesday’s monthly Security Council session on the Middle East, Danon claimed that UN funding for B’Tselem prevented the organization from presenting reliably objective reports on to the world body’s agencies.

L-R: B’Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad, Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now and Prof. Francois Dubuisson of the Free University of Brussels attend a UN Security Council meeting on settlements, at the UN headquarters in New York on October 14, 2016 (screen capture: UN TV)
L-R: B’Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad, Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now and Prof. Francois Dubuisson of the Free University of Brussels attend a UN Security Council meeting on settlements, at the UN headquarters in New York on October 14, 2016 (screen capture: UN TV)

Afterwards, with all 15 Council members looking on, US Ambassador to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs David Pressman jumped to B’Tselem’s defense, stressing the importance for governments to foster an atmosphere of political inclusion.

“We thank these NGOs – B’Tselem and Americans for Peace Now [whose representative also spoke Friday] – for sharing their technical expertise, as we recognize other NGOs around the world who shed light on difficult issues,” Pressman said, according to Haaretz newspaper. “It is vital that all governments protect and create an atmosphere that all voices can be heard.”

B’Tselem, along with other left-leaning NGOs in Israel, have been accused in the past of working to undermine Israel’s legitimacy by lobbying international forums.

Its director’s remarks Friday drew fierce denunciations from Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vowed he would bar national service volunteers from working with the organization.

But the US lent its support to B’Tselem on Monday, expressing concern about the threats against the organization, while the European Union delegation to Israel tweeted its support for “B’Tselem to maintain human rights of vulnerable Palestinian communities.”

UNESCO headquarters in Paris, October 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
UNESCO headquarters in Paris, October 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

During the Wednesday session, Danon also lashed out at the UN’s cultural body UNESCO for adopting an Arab-backed resolution that disregards Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem holy sites.

“These attempts to cut us off from our homeland and our heritage will not succeed. We will remain in our land and in our capital of Jerusalem forever,” Danon said. “UNESCO’s resolution, which denies a connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, is an embarrassing stain on the pages of UN history.”

He said the lack of UN resolutions regarding Syria and other regional conflicts demonstrated the agency’s bias against the Jewish state.

“More people have been killed in Syria in the past few months than in the entire history of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he said. “Yet the UN passed six times as many resolutions against Israel than all other countries combined.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
image
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure: example@domain.com
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.