B'Tselem head speaks at Security Council, denounced as traitor by Israeli amb
United Nations, New York
Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights NGO, spoke at the UN Security Council Thursday where he told the international community that the time had come for action on the Palestinian situation.
His speech was critical of various Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians, which he compared to the policies of aprtheid-era South Africa. He urged the international community to take action on behalf of Palestinians.
The Security Council session invited El-Ad to speak on the behalf of Israeli civil society organizations. The discussion was led by UN Middle East Envoy Nikolay Mladenov, who cautioned Thursday of the dangerous situation on the brink of exploding in Gaza.
El-Ad said “it is difficult and perhaps impossible to convey the force of the humiliation, rage and pain that is the fate of a people who have been denied their human rights for over fifty years." El-Ad told the Council that the time had come for action.
El-Ad also addressed the issues of Khan al-Ahmar, a West Bank village facing looming demolition by the Israeli government. He acknowledged that the village had been built without proper permits, but still placed responsibility for the demolition with the Israeli government.
“ It is all but impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits from the Israeli authorities because the israeli-Establisehd planning regime in the West Bank is meant, by design, to serve settlers and dispossed Palestinians,” El-Ad stated.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon reacted harshly to El-Ad’s statements, at one point switching to Hebrew in the middle of the Security Council session to accuse El-Ad of cooperating with Israel’s enemies.
“Mr. El-Ad, you are a citizen of the State of Israel who serves our enemies. They use you against us. The IDF soldiers are guarding you and you are coming here to defame them,” Danon exclaimed in Hebrew. “Shame on you, collaborator!”
“Show me a Palestinian or a Bolivian who would come to the Security Council and dare slander his country,” Danon continued.
Earlier in the week, Danny Danon condemned the decision to invite El-Ad to the session, who said that the invitation represented “a crossing of red lines by foreign countries with an anti-Israel agenda.”
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour followed El-Ad's speech by calling the looming evacuation and demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar a "war crime."
After the session adjourned, Netanyahu echoed ambassador Danon’s disavowal of El-Ad in statement.
“While our soldiers are preparing to defend Israel's security, the Director-General of B’Tselem chooses to make a speech full of lies at the UN in an attempt to help Israel’s enemies,” Netanyahu said. “The conduct of B’Tselem is a disgrace that will be remembered as a brief and fleeting episode in the history of our people.”
B'Tselem campaigns against Israel's military control over the Palestinian territories and uses Palestinian photographers and videographers to document the conduct of Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank.
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