Israeli Ambassador Storms Out of Special UN Session After Palestinian Foreign Minister Says Jewish State Has No Right to Defend Itself

Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki holds a news conference at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, May 22, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Francois Walschaerts.

Palestinian Authority foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki went on an anti-Israel rant during a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, saying that Israel has no right to defend itself and accusing it of committing a “massacre” and war crimes — prompting Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan to walk out of the session.

The session was convened to address Israel’s ongoing military operation against the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza, aimed at stopping incessant rocket fire from the coastal enclave. Some 4000 missiles have been fired from Gaza over the past weeks.

Israel’s N12 news reported that Maliki claimed without evidence that Israel deliberately kills Palestinian children in their sleep, and pontificated, “The message from here is clear — stop the massacre! Israel does not apologize; it thinks it has the right to kill a civilian population!”

Maliki did not mention those Israelis, including children, who have been killed by rockets fired by Hamas, and rejected Israel’s right to defend itself. He also made no mention of the Gazans who have been killed by misfired Hamas rockets.

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“Israel has killed 65 children, 50 old people, they are destroying schools,” he claimed. “Israel continues to violate international law. Anyone who says Israel has a right to defend itself — what are you talking about? This is an occupying country! Israel asks: What if your cities were bombed? I ask, what would you do if they occupied you?”

He also asserted that Israel’s current government “does not believe” in a two-state solution, and appeared to echo the false and incendiary claim that Israel recently attacked the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, saying, “We will continue to defend al-Aqsa.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres followed Maliki, and did not rebuke the foreign minister for his inflammatory rhetoric, confining himself to calling on both Israel and Hamas to reach a ceasefire.

According to N12, Guterres met with Erdan before the session, and asked Israel to agree to a ceasefire before the General Assembly convenes. Erdan expressed his opposition to any moral equation between Israel and Hamas, and demanded that Guterres condemn Hamas attacks on humanitarian aid convoys at the Kerem Shalom crossing on the Gaza border.

Erdan later returned to make his own statement to the session, saying, “We see an attempt to create a moral equivalence between Israel, a democracy that seeks peace and abides by international law and a murderous terrorist organization that is committing the double war crime of firing at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians.”

“Let me share some truths: Hamas targets civilians. Israel targets terrorists,” he said. “Israel makes efforts to avoid civilian causalities. Hamas makes efforts to increase civilian casualties. Israel uses missiles to protect children. Hamas uses children to protect missiles.”

“We will never apologize for defending citizens, even if some here might be happy to see a higher number of dead Jews,” Erdan said.

He also strongly criticized Israel’s opponents at the UN, saying, “The demonization of Israel in the international arena, spurred on by members of this assembly such as Turkey that use antisemitic tropes, is encouraging sickening antisemitic attacks. Never has there been a clearer example of the fact that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.”

“The State of Israel will always do whatever is necessary to defend our people and we will do so while continuing to protect human lives and aspiring to peace with all of our neighbors,” Erdan concluded.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield also spoke at the session, emphasizing the Biden administration’s desire for an end to hostilities.

“The United States has had more than 60 diplomatic meetings at the highest levels, including at least five by President Biden,” she said. “In his most recent call with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, President Biden communicated that we continue to stand by Israel’s right to defend itself, that we believe Israel is now in a position to begin winding down the conflict, and we expect a significant de-escalation to begin. In the hours and days ahead, we will continue to relentlessly push for peace.”

She also criticized Hamas, saying, “We hope the international community will step up to meet the humanitarian needs on the ground. And this must be done in a manner that serves the needs of the Palestinians and not Hamas — which has time and time again failed the Palestinian people.”


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