Politics, World, Middle East

Israel asks visiting UN chief for new page in relations

PM Benjamin Netanyahu says he hopes for end of UN's 'absurd obsession' with Jewish state

Israel asks visiting UN chief for new page in relations

By Kaamil Ahmed


Israeli leaders meeting with visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday cited several complaints about the world body, accusing it of failing to advance peace in the region.

“There is no question that we’ve had a troubled relationship with the UN. I think it has an absurd obsession with Israel [and uses] flagrantly discriminatory tactics,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, adding that he believed Guterres wanted to mend the relationship.

“I think the time has come to restore moral clarity at the UN. I know that this is a tremendous task. I know that the secretary-general does not have power over the [UN] members,” Netanyahu said.

“I know also that the members don’t always reflect their good relations with Israel that are expanding rapidly in the way that they vote in international bodies,” he added.

Netanyahu also said that he and Guterres would be discussing regional security issues, accusing Iran of turning neighboring Syria into a center for military operations against Israel.

Guterres earlier visited Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust memorial site, and spoke with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who reiterated Israel's claim that certain circles within the UN focused disproportionately on Israel’s human rights record.

Guterres, for his part, said the UN would be “very frank” with Israel but would also “be very committed to making sure anti-Semitism doesn't prevail and that equality in the treatment of all states is fully respected”.

The UN chief arrived for his first Israel-Palestine trip on Sunday night and is scheduled to meet Palestinian leaders on Tuesday.

The UN Human Rights Committee has a fixed agenda item at every meeting that calls for discussing reported human rights abuses by Israel.

The international community generally views Israel as an “occupying power” in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip -- territories it seized during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

UN member-states drew Israel’s ire last December when they voted in favor of a resolution reiterating the view that Israeli settlements built in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law.

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