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November 30, 2021 3:43 pm

‘Israel Does Not Define the Middle East,’ US Ambassador Tells UN Security Council Debate

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the UN, tours Israel’s missile defense system. Photo: US Mission to UN

The US Ambassador to the UN strongly criticized the behavior of Israeli settlers in the West Bank on Tuesday, in remarks to a Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East.

In a speech that reflected on her recent visit to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, US envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield voiced support for Israel on several key fronts, including its concerns over Iran’s destabilizing role in the region.

However, Thomas-Greenfield said she had seen “how serious the security situation is for Palestinians” during her trip.

“I heard stories about Israeli settlers attacking Palestinians, ransacking homes, and destroying property in the West Bank, and this is an issue that I discussed extensively with Israeli counterparts,” she told the Security Council.

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“I was told how many Palestinian families fear eviction from their homes because it is nearly impossible to get building permits as settlements expand,” she continued.

Thomas-Greenfield emphasized that “US disapproval of settlement expansion goes back decades. This is nothing new for us.” But, she continued, “the practice has reached a critical juncture, and it is now undermining even the very viability of a negotiated two-state solution.”

At the same time, she stressed that Israel had real and understandable security concerns, particularly with regard to the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions and its backing of terrorist groups like Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israel “is subjected to regular attacks by terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Hezbollah, both of whom are funded by Iran,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “The impact of Iran’s regional malfeasance, nuclear aspirations, and hatred for Israel cannot be ignored.”

She also addressed the structural bias against Israel within the UN, observing that Israelis “interpret the overwhelming focus on Israel in this body as a denial of Israel’s right to exist and an unfair focus on this one country — and they are correct.”

She continued: “The Security Council’s monthly meetings on the situation in the Middle East that focus almost exclusively on Israel are seen by Israelis as another example of this. This Council’s attention should reflect all areas that threaten international peace and security, and we should have open meetings on Lebanon and meet on Iran more regularly. Israel does not define the Middle East.”

Thomas-Greenfield expressed cautious optimism that progress on the negotiating front would be registered in the coming months.

Her visit to the region had “yielded several promising ideas we can pursue together,” she said, noting that “both sides spoke of the need for confidence-building measures to break down the walls of distrust.”

Thomas-Greenfield urged the Security Council to “facilitate constructive steps.”

“We can enforce Security Council resolutions intended to constrain Iran’s regional malign activities, nuclear threats, support for terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah,” she said. The Council could “also speak with one voice in denouncing the incitement to violence, whether by terrorist organizations or individuals,” and “promote steps to improving the lives of ordinary Palestinians, from urging Israel to issue more work permits to granting additional building permits in Area C of the West Bank.”

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