UN General Assembly Debate on Israel-Hamas Conflict Sparks Global War of Words
Israeli, Palestinian envoys each call for unequivocal condemnation of the other side during emergency meeting in New York as cease-fire was emerging
By the time Palestinian Authority Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad al-Maliki finished addressing reporters at the United Nations in New York on Thursday afternoon, word was coming in from the Middle East that a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was emerging.
But, the UN General Assembly debate throughout the day laid bare two diametrically opposed views of the long-running conflict.
Israel chastised the global community, with Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, saying that the UN’s failure to unequivocally condemn Hamas has essentially condemned Israelis and Palestinians to a perpetual state of war by strengthening the terrorist organization that runs the Gaza Strip.
“There should be no mistake. If this institution strengthens Hamas, it will make the possibility of Hamas replacing the Palestinian Authority much more likely and eliminate the chance of future dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians,” Erdan told The Media Line.
Israel’s detractors – and there were many to take to the podium – countered that a tepid international response only allows Israel to continue to act with impunity in its policies toward the Palestinians.
There should be no mistake. If this institution strengthens Hamas, it will make the possibility of Hamas replacing the Palestinian Authority much more likely and eliminate the chance of future dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians
When questioned about the buzz of an impending cease-fire, which went into effect Friday at 2 am, Maliki said it is good in the short term, but unsatisfactory in the long run.
“It’s good that the Palestinian people will be able to go to sleep tonight knowing that they will have a brighter tomorrow but that’s not enough – not enough at all,” Maliki told reporters during an afternoon press conference.
“We cannot forget Jerusalem. The al-Aqsa Mosque was desecrated on a daily basis by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Today’s message is not only to condemn Israel’s atrocities and crimes, but that we have to work to protect and defend Jerusalem,” he said.
There was also a great deal of discontent, mainly expressed in subtle fashion, at the United States for its thwarting of three UN Security Council statements on the conflict, which appeared to equivocate between Israel’s defensive actions against what it said were military targets in Gaza and Hamas’ firing of thousands of rockets on civilian communities in Israel.
“Over the past two weeks, the United States has approached this crisis in Israel and Gaza with a singular focus: bringing an end to the conflict as quickly as possible. We have not been silent. In fact, I don’t believe that there is any country working more urgently, and more fervently, toward peace. This is not a slight. And it is not silence. It’s a fact. I share to underscore our deep engagement and commitment to working with Israelis, Palestinians, and partners across the region to resolve this conflict,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the General Assembly.
It’s good that the Palestinian people will be able to go to sleep tonight knowing that they will have a brighter tomorrow but that’s not enough – not enough at all
Erdan also admonished those who were using the conflict to invoke antisemitic tropes, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was reprimanded by the US following his recent comments that Israelis are child-killers who are “only satisfied by sucking their (Palestinians’) blood.”
Erdan walked out of the General Assembly debate after Maliki accused Israel of intentionally killing Palestinian children during the latest round of violence.
“The demonization of Israel in the international arena, spurred on by members of this assembly that spout antisemitic rhetoric, is encouraging sickening attacks against Jews around the world,” Erdan said.
Almost on cue, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who traveled to New York for the debate, was called out by a CNN anchor on Thursday after claiming during a live interview that Israel was losing the public relations battle despite using its connections and “deep pockets” to “control the media.”