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Israel envoy slams UN for 'colluding with terror supporters' on occupation forum

L'ambassadeur israélien à l'ONU, Danny Danon
ONU/Cia Pak
B'Tselem director accuses Israel of attempting to minimize international criticism by labeling it antisemitism

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon accused the international body of "colluding with supporters of terror seeking to harm Israel," following a two-day Palestinian-led ‘UN Forum on Fifty Years of Occupation’.

Speakers at the forum included Palestinian officials, an Israeli-Arab lawmaker, and Israeli and Palestinian activists, among others, some of whom Israel claims have links to Palestinian terror groups.

"It is beyond comprehension that UN funds are supporting organizations which aid terrorists and incite against Israel," Danon said in a statement about the event, which was held Thursday and Friday at the UN headquarters in New York, and was organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

On Thursday, Israel’s UN delegation condemned the gathering accusing two Palestinian NGOs which took part, Al Haq and the Al Mazan Center for Human Rights, of collaborating with Palestinian militant groups Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Danon similarly lashed out at Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat, who told the panel on Thursday that Hamas and the PFLP "are not terrorist organizations."

"They have no shame. These are lies and incitement from those who are paying terrorists to kill innocent Israelis. These obsessive attempts to besmirch our good name will not change the fact that the Palestinian leadership refuses to end their support for terror," Danon said.

AFP/Jack Guez

Other prominent pro-peace activists who took part in the forum included: Hagai El-Ad, director of the left-wing Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem; Muna Haddad from Adalah, an advocacy group for minority rights in Israel; and Omar Shakir, who Israel initially prevented from entering the country after he became country director for Human Rights Watch, a global NGO.

Addressing the forum on Friday, El-Ad accused Israel of minimizing international criticism of its policies in the West Bank by labeling it antisemitism.

"Palestinians who oppose the occupation are terrorists, Israelis who oppose the occupation are traitors, and those in the international community who oppose the occupation are of course anti-Semitic," El-Ad said.

"The Israeli government is prepared to undermine the real fight against anti-Semitism in order to preserve the occupation with minimal repercussions from the international community," he charged.

Israeli-Arab lawmaker Aida Touma-Suleiman addressed the forum on Friday, warning that Israel was "a country that is developing clear signs of apartheid."

"There can be no democracy with occupation, there can be no social justice with the oppression of an entire people," she said, adding that the conflict is moving farther and farther away from a two-state solution.

Fabrice Coffrini (AFP/File)

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams, the forum's keynote speaker, on Friday urged participants to make "life hell" for Israel until it withdraws from Palestinian territory.

"Israel has a right to a narrative [which] may or may not be valid," she said, but added that it was "disturbing... that the state of Israel does not wish to allow the Palestinians to have their narrative heard."

Panelists did not address any of the issues raised by Israel, such as the crippling rule of the Islamist militant faction Hamas in the Gaza Strip, or the Palestinian Authority's policy of providing financial stipends to convicted terrorists and their families.

A demonstration against the forum, organized by the World Jewish Congress, was held across the street from the UN headquarters.

The group said in a statement that the forum's organizing committee is "the only UN body dedicated to an individual group of people, despite the many pressing human rights concerns facing peoples around the world."

"Established in November 1975 after the UN General Assembly passed its notorious ‘Zionism-equals-racism’ resolution, the [Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People] continues to encourage that poisonous notion," the WJC said.

"While it claims to support the Middle East peace process and the achievement of a two-state solution, the Committee in fact regularly disparages Israel and administers events questioning its legitimacy," it added, calling on the UN to dissolve the committee and on the international community to back the resumption of direct, bilateral negotiations between the Israel and the Palestinians.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been at a standstill since 2014, when US-brokered talks fell apart.

US President Donald Trump hopes to revive the moribund peace process, however, saying that achieving a “lasting peace agreement” between Israel and the Palestinians is a “top priority” for his administration.

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