The secretary-general of the United Nations angered Israel with remarks to the Security Council today calling it “human nature” for Palestinians to lash out at “occupation” with stabbings and vehicular attacks.
“Sadly, 2016 has begun much like 2015 ended – with unacceptable levels of violence and a polarized public discourse across the spectrum in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory,” Ban Ki-moon told the UNSC.
“Stabbings, vehicle attacks, and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians – all of which I condemn — and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, have continued to claim lives.”
But, he added, “security measures alone will not stop the violence.”
“They cannot address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians – especially young people,” Ban said. “…Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process.”
“Some have taken me to task for pointing out this indisputable truth. Yet, as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.”
The UN chief added that “so-called facts on the ground in the occupied West Bank are steadily chipping away the viability of a Palestinian state and the ability of Palestinian people to live in dignity.”
He laid the burden at Israel’s doorstep “to strengthen Palestinian institutions, security and economic prospects,” insisting “progress towards peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise.”
“Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community. They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution,” Ban said, adding that Palestinian factions should “advance genuine Palestinian unity on the basis of democracy and the PLO principles.”
Ban argued a Palestinian state with “difficult compromises” by both sides is needed quickly. “What are the alternatives? The continuing deadly wave of terror attacks and killings? The possible financial collapse of the Palestinian government? Ever greater isolation of the Israeli government? A further deterioration of humanitarian conditions in Gaza and the agonizing build-up to another terrible war? A hollowing of the moral foundation of both Israeli and Palestinian societies alike, a creeping moral blindness that ignores the suffering – and indeed the humanity — of one’s neighbor? More unilateral acts by each side, intentionally designed to preempt negotiations and provoke the other side?”
The UN leader called upon the international community to “be ever more committed to actively help Palestinians and Israelis to rebuild trust and achieve an enduring peace before it is too late.”
In a statement issued after Ban’s remarks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted “the UN lost its neutrality and moral force a long time ago and the secretary-general’s remarks do not improve the situation.”
“The UN secretary general’s remarks give a tailwind to terrorism,” Netanyahu said. “There is no justification for terrorism.”
“The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state – they want to destroy a state and they say this openly. They want to murder Jews simply because they are Jews and they say this openly. They do not murder for peace and they do not murder for human rights.”
During the Security Council debate, US Ambassador Samantha Power said Washington remains “very concerned about the impact that terrorism and ongoing violence have on Israelis and Palestinians and by the lack of progress toward a two-state solution.”
“The United States strongly condemns terrorist attacks perpetrated by Palestinians,” she said, as well as “Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank.”
“There is absolutely no justification for any of these acts of terrorism,” Power added.
Power decried “the appalling 2015 [arson] attack that killed three members of the Dawabsheh family in Duma,” for which the Israelis indicted people two last month. She acknowledged the Israelis’ action against the perpetrators represents “a positive step, but more must be done to ensure that those responsible for such attacks are held accountable.”
“It is also incumbent on the Palestinian Authority to do all it can to counter incitement to violence and to continue to press for calm,” she added.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon slammed the council for not issuing any condemnations of Palestinian terror attacks as Israeli citizens have been randomly stabbed in the streets.
“During the past four months, Israelis have been stabbed in their homes, shot at in the streets, and run over by terrorists using cars as weapons,” Danon said. “During this period of time, the council has adopted 12 resolutions against terrorism. Not once were the lives of Israelis murdered by terrorists recognized by this council. The facts don’t lie. The Security Council has been hypocritical when it comes to Israel.”