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Palestinian envoy slams UN Security Council, Israel in heated meeting

April 19, 2016 8:20 P.M. (Updated: April 24, 2016 5:09 P.M.)
UN Security Council members vote on a resolution at the UN headquarters in New York on July 20, 2015. (AFP/Jewel Samad, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine at the United Nations Riyad Mansour on Monday denounced the “shocking” impassivity of the Security Council regarding Israeli violations of Palestinians’ rights and international law, in a tense session in which he exchanged heated words with the Israeli envoy to the UN.

Mansour’s comments came as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the current state of Palestinian-Israeli relations, saying it “undermined” the possibility of a two-state solution.

“At a time when the situation is boiling, the passivity and silence of the Security Council is truly shocking,” Mansour said. “The crisis is existential and we can no longer wait.”

Mansour brought up Israel’s continued policy of home demolitions, and its expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are deemed illegal under international law.

Mansour also mentioned the deaths of more than 200 Palestinians killed by Israeli settlers and security forces since the beginning of a wave of violence in October.

The majority of Palestinians have been killed while allegedly carrying out or attempting to carry out small-scale attacks that have left nearly 30 Israelis dead, while nearly 50 Palestinians have been shot dead during clashes with the military.

“When will the Council hold Israel accountable for those violations and insist on compliance, thus preserving the possibility of a two-state solution?” Mansour was quoted as saying in a UN statement.

Continued silence from the Security Council, he added, would only “foster greater Israeli impunity and disregard for Palestinian life.”

The Palestinian Authority, in collaboration with the Arab League, has been working in recent weeks on a draft Security Council resolution against ongoing Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Clash of words at the UN Security Council

Mansour and Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon exchanged accusations on Monday during a Security Council meeting on the Middle East.

Danon asked Mansour if he condemned Palestinian “terror attacks” against Israelis, to which Mansour responded: “We condemn the killing of all innocent civilians including Palestinian civilians. Do you do the same?”

The exchange quickly escalated, with Danon telling Mansour: “Shame on you for glorifying terrorism.”

“Shame on you for killing thousands of Palestinian children,” Mansour retorted. “Shame on you, you are occupiers, you are terrorizers.”

Meanwhile, Ban urged Palestinian and Israeli leaders on Monday to “elevate public discourse above mutual accusations” to rebuild trust between both sides, a UN press release reported.

“The path out of the current political deadlock requires commitment, compromise, mutual respect and leadership on both sides. It also requires the acceptance -- demonstrated by deeds as well as words -- that the two-state solution is the only road to peace that meets the national aspirations of both peoples,” the UN leader said.

“Tragically, this solution seems more distant than it has for many decades,” he added. “A 20-year-old Palestinian living under occupation has seen no political progress at all during his or her lifetime.”

While deploring the negative effects of Palestinian political disunity on the possible establishment of a Palestinian state, Ban also questioned Israel’s commitment to a solution to the conflict

“The creation of new facts on the ground through demolitions and settlement building raises questions about whether Israel’s ultimate goal is in fact to drive Palestinians out of certain parts of the West Bank, thereby undermining any prospect of transition to a viable Palestinian state,” he said.
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