The reset in U.S.–Israel relations was on display Thursday at the United Nations Security Council as both countries forced the usually Israel-obsessed group to shift focus to Iran.
The American ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, who is taking a turn at presiding over deliberations, told the Council: “Every month the Security Council convenes a meeting on the Middle East. We have lots of meetings on specific countries and conflicts in this region, but this debate is our opportunity to talk about the Middle East as a whole. Regrettably, these monthly meetings routinely turn into Israel-bashing sessions. That’s the way the Security Council has operated for years. It’s a formula that is absurdly biased against one country. It’s a formula that is painfully narrow in its description of the conflicts in the region,” said Haley, who is this month’s president of the Security Council.
Haley urged the members to consider Iran instead:
“Iran is using Hezbollah to expand its regional aspirations. That is a threat that should be dominating our discussions at the Security Council,” she said.
Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon also spoke on the Iranian threat:
“Where there is terror, where there is death, there is Iran. Teheran is an accomplice in the atrocities taking place every single day in Syria. The Iranian proxy Hezbollah places its weapons in homes, mosques and hospitals in Lebanon; and in Gaza, Hamas has spent millions of Iranian dollars on rockets, guns and digging terror tunnels,” he said.
How effective Haley’s reorientation program will be can only be assessed over time. As of Thursday, it did not appear to make much of an impression, if any, on the council members.
France, Russia and Sweden ignored her rebuke, spending the bulk of their floor time on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
However, as The Times of Israel noted, Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N.’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, did manage to discuss other matters besides Israel, including Syria, the refugee crisis, Hezbollah and the Islamic State group.
PA representative to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, expressed support for the prisoner hunger strike.
“As we meet today, more than 1,000 Palestinians are on hunger strike in non-violent protest of their captivity. This hunger strike is led Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian parliamentarian and leader, jailed for 15 years now,” said Mansour.
It was not clear whether delegates caught the irony of Mansour’s description of the arch-terrorist, exactly the same bio snip for which The New York Times apologized earlier in the week, after running an opinion piece written by Barghouti, in which he was identified as a “parliamentarian and leader,” while his record as a serial murderer — for which he is serving multiple life sentences — went unmentioned.
But in response, Danon reminded the Council that “the leader of the striking prisoners is a terrorist and a murderer who has overseen dozens of suicide-bombings and the killing of innocent civilians.”
Danon showed the Security Council gathering a photograph of one of the victims of a terror attack organized by Barghouti.
“This was Yoela Chen, a mother of two,” explained Danon. “Glorifying terrorists like Barghouti not only distances us from peace, but dishonors the memories of the innocent victims.”