Tel Aviv – Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon lashed out at UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for calling on Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and accused him of “spreading misinformation”.
Guterres, marking 50 years since the start of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, reiterated a call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
“Now is the time to end the conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel,” Guterres said in his statement on the 50-year occupation.
“The occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan, which displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians, has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people”, he added.
The UN chief continued: “Among them are generation after generation of Palestinians who have been compelled to grow-up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children”.
He stressed that ending the occupation and achieving a negotiated two-state solution was the only way to lay the foundations for lasting peace that “meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty”.
He also recalled that in 1947, the world recognized the two-state solution and called for the emergence of “independent Arab and Jewish states” on the basis of UN General Assembly Resolution 181.
The Israeli ambassador to the UN strongly denounced Guterres’ statements, saying: “The attacks on Israel by our neighbors did not begin in 1967… Instead of spreading Palestinian misinformation, it would be best if the UN stuck with the facts.”
“It is ridiculous to blame terror and violence in the Middle East on the one true democracy in the region,” Danon stated, adding that when “the Palestinian leadership abandons terror, ceases to incite against our people and finally returns to direct negotiations, then real progress can be made towards peace.”
Meanwhile, UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper, issued a statement on the 50th Anniversary of Israel’s Occupation, saying “for humanitarians, this is the most long-standing protection crisis in the UN’s history”.
“It should be obvious, but it bears repeating, that Occupation is ugly. Living under foreign military rule for years on end, generates despair, suffocates initiative and leaves generations in a kind of political and economic limbo,” he added.
Piper also said: “Accompanying that ever-present security apparatus have been deliberate policies that have isolated Palestinian communities from each other, ruptured social cohesion, profoundly limited economic activity and deprived many of their basic rights – of movement, of expression, of access to health and much more. In too many cases, these policies have violated international humanitarian law as well as the human rights instruments to which Israel is a party.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war, said his country was seeking “true peace” with its neighbors but it has to ensure its own security.
“For that reason, in any agreement, and even without an agreement, we will maintain security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River,” he stated.