Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and soon-to-be outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon faced a daunting agenda Tuesday (June 28) for their meeting in Jerusalem.
The two leaders met with journalists ahead of their afternoon talks, with Netanyahu using the opportunity to call on Ban to rectify the ever-present UN bias against Israel, and also to exert his influence to force Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorists to return its Israeli hostages to their families.
The latter has in particular taken center stage in Israeli politics in recent days as Turkey closed a deal this week with Jerusalem to renew its diplomatic ties on condition it would be allowed to rebuild the electric and water infrastructure in Gaza, as well as intervene with Israel for the terrorist-run enclave when there are security matters to discuss.
Not all of the Netanyahu government cabinet was in agreement with the deal that restored the ties between Israel and Turkey (but has yet to be signed, in July.)
Netanyahu also said that it’s time for the United Nations to end its biased treatment of Israel, and asked Ban to be the one to rectify that situation in his remaining six months in office.
“I remember well when you came in Israel in 2013 you said that Israel and the Israeli people face some bias,” Netanyahu said.
“That’s an understatement,” he went on. “But you also said that Israel must be treated equally at the UN. I appreciate your candor and this clear moral stance. It was exemplified in your efforts to secure the final Palmer report which was very important for Israel, and Mr. Secretary, I appreciate your personal efforts in that particular instance.
“Regrettably, the goal of treating Israel fairly remains unfulfilled across a wide spectrum of UN activities and UN forums. Your visit here comes as the UN Human Rights Council is meeting. As it always does, the Council will condemn Israel, a country that does more to promote and protect human rights and liberal values than any other in the blood soaked Middle East.
“Our progressive democracy has faced more country-specific resolutions, more country-specific condemnations at the UN Human Rights Council than all the other countries combined. And I believe this is a profound betrayal of the United Nations noble mandate.
“So today I want to echo your words from 2013, Israel still faces bias at the UN.I know that your desire for all countries to be treated fairly and equally remains true today. I urge you to dedicate your last six months as the Secretary General of the United Nations in trying to right this wrong. And when I say that, it’s not just for Israel’s sake. It’s for the credibility of the UN.
“If you can unfairly and in a bias way single out a country and apply to it what I call the ‘Ostracon rule’ – which is just decide to kick them out – just decide to brand them as criminal or whatever, you can apply that same principle to any other country, and this served as the downfall of the Athenian assembly, the first such body on which all of our parliaments and the UN itself is modeled after.
“I believe that this Ostracon problem, the singling out of Israel and the unfair treatment that it receives is a palpable threat to the future of the UN and not just for the interests of our country.”
In addition to his focus on the bias against Israel, however, the prime minister pressured Ban on helping the Jewish State retrieve its citizens and soldiers from Gaza. In connection with this issue, Netanyahu has faced intense opposition from coalition members on the newly-closed deal to renew diplomatic ties with Turkey. The ministers point to the fact that Israeli hostages are still being held by Hamas in Gaza; two live captives, and the kidnapped bodies of two killed IDF soldiers from the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. Those who oppose the agreement say Turkey should pressure its beneficiary, Hamas, to return the hostages before any deal is signed.Hana Levi Julian