LONDON: Arab nations criticized Israel during a heated meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday that focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Representatives of several Arab states spoke out against the actions of Israeli forces against Palestinians, especially violence over the weekend in East Jerusalem and at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel criticized the UNSC for ignoring the activities of Palestinian terror groups and the rising threat from Iran.
Tor Wennesland, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said 23 Palestinians — including three women and four children — were killed in clashes with Israeli forces, and 541 had been injured by police and settlers.
Twelve Israelis — including two women — and three foreign nationals had been killed by Palestinians, and 82 had been injured.
Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s permanent observer to the UN, said Israel had “resorted to its favorite justification — security” for the violence carried out by its forces.
“It is the one-size-fits-all justification: Security to justify illegal occupation, security to justify forcible displacement, security to justify inhumane blockade, security to justify killing children on their way to school, security to justify bombing entire neighborhoods, security to justify attacking our people, our land and our holy sites,” he added.
“They labeled our worshippers ‘terrorists’ — the distortions are endless, offensive and dangerous.”
Gilad Erden, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said Israel found itself in the midst of a “terror wave” of attacks.
He criticized the UNSC for failing to raise the issue of Iran, its activities in Lebanon and its nuclear program, which he labeled “a true threat to regional security.”
Hezbollah “has multiplied its arsenal in Lebanon tenfold,” he said, adding that it “represents only one tentacle of terror belonging to an even more menacing threat: Iran.
“Hezbollah is one of six terror proxy armies that Iran funds and arms, and Iran, as the world’s number-one state sponsor of terror, uses these armies to spread death and chaos across the region.”
Erden said: “As we speak, advanced Iranian centrifuges continue to spin. The ayatollahs’ regime is now mere weeks away from enriching enough uranium for a nuclear bomb.
“How is it possible that the body tasked with global security does not dedicate the majority of this debate on the Middle East to the Iranian nuclear threat?”
He added: “Try to imagine what the Middle East will look like when Iran’s terror proxies can operate under a nuclear umbrella.
“How much bolder will the Houthis’ attacks on international trade routes and civilian infrastructure get once they have nuclear backing?”
Other nations, however, criticized Israel for its actions against the Palestinians in recent days. Algeria reminded the UNSC that the session came just days before the 74th anniversary of the dispossession of the Palestinian people when Israel was created in 1948, “a people whose only fault was the rejection of an occupation of its land, and calling for the right to self-determination.”
Jordan, Turkey, Morocco, Lebanon and the UAE also criticized Israel, calling on it to de-escalate the situation.
The UAE called the moment “a critical juncture” and condemned “the repeated incursions by Israeli forces into Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as the assault carried out by settlers in the courtyards of Al-Haram Al-Sharif.”
Richard Mills Jr., deputy US ambassador to the UN, warned that the situation in Gaza had also become desperate and required international assistance.
“In Gaza, the need for humanitarian relief, reconstruction and recovery remains acute,” he said. “We encourage all member states to provide concrete assistance, including financial contributions … to help meet the needs of ordinary Palestinians.”