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Washington envoy blasts Abbas, Jewish violence in UN meeting

Linda Thomas-Greenfield took aim at Palestinian Authority leader, calling his recent comments “blatantly antisemitic,” which “wrongly maligned the Jewish people and distorted the Holocaust.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, at the U.N. Security Council Open Debate on Multilateralism on May 7, 2021. Credit: Freddie Everett/U.S. State Department.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, at the U.N. Security Council Open Debate on Multilateralism on May 7, 2021. Credit: Freddie Everett/U.S. State Department.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, had harsh words for both Israelis and Palestinians at the U.N. Security Council’s monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian file on Wednesday.

The U.S. envoy criticized Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria regarding the “sharp rise” in violence against local Arabs, which she said was deeply alarming. She added that those who commit violent acts against civilians, whether Israeli or Palestinian, must be held accountable.

She also blasted Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas over his recent Holocaust denial, which included blaming Jews for the Shoah. 

The comments were “blatantly antisemitic” and “wrongly maligned the Jewish people and distorted the Holocaust,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “These kinds of divisive and hateful remarks only undermine prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Moving the Golan-posts

Despite a Washington-approved UNSC resolution last month that referred to the Shebaa Farms, located on the southeast flank of Mount Hermon and claimed by both Lebanon and Israel, as “occupied,” Thomas-Greenfield insisted that the Biden administration has not changed the U.S. policy, which dates back to the Trump era, that Israel has Israeli sovereignty over the area.

The vote, which renewed the mandate of the U.N.-backed peacekeeping force along the Israel-Lebanon border, “did not change any other aspect of U.S. policy, including as pertains to the status of the Golan Heights,” Thomas-Greenfield told the council.

Biden administration officials have said previously that they disagreed with the resolution’s language but weren’t willing to vote the draft down, after having achieved concessions in other texts.

Nicolas de Rivière, the French ambassador to the United Nations, had particularly harsh criticism for Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria. Paris will “never recognize those illegal activities and their legalization,” he said. 

France condemns “acts of terrorism,” according to de Rivière, who did not specify the sources of the terrorism and who claimed that Paris has unwavering commitment to Israeli security. He also expressed support for last week’s meeting on Middle East peace on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly.

De Rivière also lent his “full support for the initiative,” which the Arab League, Saudi Arabia and the European Union led, and which was intended to kick-start negotiations on a political settlement.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, speaks at the U.S. State Department press briefing in Washington on Feb. 1, 2023. Credit: Freddie Everett/State Department.

Mohamed Abushahab, of the United Arab Emirates, also welcomed last week’s side meeting and said he hoped it would lead to concrete steps toward negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah. 

Thirty years since Oslo

The Russian envoy slammed Israel during the meeting, continuing Moscow’s verbal assault on the Jewish state at the council.

With no apparent hint of irony, Vassily Nebenzia claimed that the “ongoing explosive situation is a direct result of aggressive Israeli abuses,” including settlement legalization and “violation of the status quo of the holy sites of Jerusalem.”

Nebenzia also took aim at Washington, blasting the United States for continuing to promote Arab-Israeli normalization, “circumventing the logic of the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Geng Shuang, the Chinese envoy, called for a “higher priority to be given” on the U.N. international agenda to the Palestinian issue and urged the Security Council to send a visiting mission to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 

Several ambassadors at the meeting lamented the lack of progress on a political settlement since the Oslo I Accord was signed 30 years ago this month.

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