Israel’s leading human rights group, B’Tselem’s leader, Hagai El-Ad strongly criticized Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu’s government for its “supremacy and oppression” of the Palestinians during a UN Security Council meeting Thursday, AP reported.
In response, Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon accused him of staging “a circus” in the council and then in Hebrew telling him: “Shame on you! You are a collaborator!”
B’Tselem is one of the groups that out rightly opposes Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It has also documented abuses committed by Israeli soldiers leading many Israeli hardliners to accuse it of treason.
It angers Israeli leaders due to its accepting of foreign donors including the European Commission and due to its nature of criticizing the country on international platforms like the UN.
Netanyahu told a recent meeting with Christian media outlets that he defined B’Tselem as “a disgrace.”
In his speech, the leader underlined “the indignity, the outrage, the pain of the people denied human rights for more than 50 years.”
He described how Israel is fragmenting Palestinian land, separating Gaza from the West Bank, walling off east Jerusalem which the Palestinians want as their future capital, and how Israeli courts legalize demolitions of Palestinian homes and the relocation of people.
The Israeli government is “quite expert at constructing this facade of legality which has been very successful at allowing us not to have to deal with any international consequences,” El-Ad said. And this has enabled Israel to continue “oppressing millions while it somehow is still being considered a democracy.”
He said ongoing efforts to legislate against Israeli human rights organizations “now go hand-in-hand with the routine in which opposition to the occupation is being equated with treason.”
“So to president Netanyahu I say this: You will never silence us, nor the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who reject a present founded on supremacy and oppression and stand for a future built on equality, freedom and human rights,” El-Ad said.
El-Ad urged the world to “let Israel know that it will no longer stand idly by, that it will take action against the continued dismantling of the Palestinian people.”
Israel’s Danon said B’Tselem was invited by Bolivia, “a country with a terrible human rights record to defame our strong democracy, but it actually had the opposite effect” and proved “the strength of Israel’s vibrant democracy.”
“I challenge you all, all of you, to find a Palestinian or a Bolivian who could dare defame his government at the Security Council,” Danon said. “At best he might be thrown in jail but he would more likely end up dead.”
Danon then accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of inspiring a “rampant culture of hate” during his 13 years in office and “enabling an imminent war” between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Israel.
“Far from a peace partner, Mahmoud Abbas is the obstacle for peace,” he said.
Bolivia’s deputy UN Ambassador Veronica Cordova Soria, who presided over the meeting said: “On behalf of this council I want to apologize for the way he was mistreated today. We’re not here to discuss Bolivia’s human rights.”