Israeli Rights Group Roasts Tel Aviv at UN, Hails Palestinians Are ‘Heroes’

UNITED NATIONS — The head of Is­rael’s leading human rights group strongly criticised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government during a contentious UN Security Council meeting on Thursday for its “supremacy and oppression” of the Palestinians.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon responded, accusing Hagai El- Ad, director of B’Tselem, of staging “a circus” in the council and then in He­brew telling him: “Shame on you! You are a collaborator!”

That drew a rebuke from Britain’s UN Ambassador Karen Pierce who complained that council members could not understand Danon’s re­marks in Hebrew, which is not one of the UN’s official languages.

B’Tselem opposes Israeli settle­ments in the West Bank and has docu­mented abuses committed by Israeli soldiers, sparking accusations of trea­son by Israeli hardliners.

The rights group has also angered Israeli leaders because it accepts fund­ing from foreign donors including the European Commission and because it airs its criticism in international ven­ues like the United Nations.

Netanyahu told a recent meeting with Christian media outlets that he defined B’Tselem as “a disgrace.” El- Ad was invited to address the UN’s most powerful body by Bolivia, which holds the Security Council presidency this month, and he used his speech to decry “the indignity, the outrage, the pain of the people denied human rights for more than 50 years.”

He described how Israel is frag­menting Palestinian land, separating Gaza from the West Bank, walling off east Jerusalem which the Palestinians want as their future capital, and how Israeli courts legalise demolitions of Palestinian homes and the relocation of people.

The Israeli government is “quite expert at constructing this facade of legality which has been very success­ful at allowing us not to have to deal with any international consequences,” El-Ad said. And this has enabled Israel to continue “oppressing millions while it somehow is still being considered a democracy.”

He said ongoing efforts to legislate against Israeli human rights organisa­tions “now go hand-in-hand with the routine in which opposition to the oc­cupation is being equated with trea­son.”

“So to president Netanyahu I say this: You will never silence us, nor the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who reject a present founded on supremacy and oppression and stand for a future built on equality, freedom and human rights,” El-Ad said.

El-Ad urged the world to “let Israel know that it will no longer stand idly by, that it will take action against the continued dismantling of the Palestin­ian people.”

Israel’s Danon said B’Tselem was invited by Bolivia, “a country with a terrible human rights record to defame our strong democracy but it actually had the opposite effect” and proved “the strength of Israel’s vibrant democracy.”

“I challenge you all, all of you, to find a Palestinian or a Bolivian who could dare defame his government at the Security Council,” Danon said.

“At best he might be thrown in jail but he would more likely end up dead.”

Danon then accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of inspir­ing a “rampant culture of hate” dur­ing his 13 years in office and “enabling an imminent war” between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Israel.

 

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