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Deputy FM Hotovely addresses UN Security Council on Counter-terrorism in the Middle East

Israel has learned in its own prolonged campaign against terror, that the ultimate source of our ability to vanquish terror lies in our reverence for the sanctity of human life and our fierce conviction to do battle with any and all who strive to defile it.

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Foreign Minister Lavrov, distinguished ministers:

I would like to thank the Russian Government for initiating this important debate on a topic which is deeply troubling to all peace-loving countries and people.

The scourge of terror is not new to Israel. Since before our establishment and throughout our existence, we have been contending with an ongoing terror campaign.

The Middle East and Africa are witnessing a broad expansion of terror throughout the region. Terror groups such as ISIS, Houti militants, Hamas and Hezbollah have a territorial dimension, having set up terror quasi-states which pose a particular challenge. Moreover, terror inspired by groups such as Al Qaeda or ISIS has struck as far afield as Australia, Belgium, France and elsewhere.

If some thought at first that the so-called Arab Spring would give rise to a newly democratic Middle East, the vast spread of terror regimes throughout the region has been an alarming wake-up call.

Israel is flanked by terror groups on all of its frontiers: Hezbollah and Jabhat al-Nusra in the north, ISIS-Sinai in the south and Hamas in Gaza.

Last year we were starkly reminded of the magnitude of the threat we face when Hamas launched thousands of missiles against Israeli civilian targets, while tunneling under the border to strike at innocent Israeli civilians. Israel dealt with this huge security threat while scrupulously abiding by international humanitarian law and in many cases going well beyond its strict requirements. Perhaps this explains why many democracies have expressed an interest in learning from our experience.

One of the greatest challenges is the fact that terror groups often exploit and misuse the principles of international law in order to advance their aims. Thus, we see non-state actors cynically inverting the purpose of humanitarian legal principles in order to inflict maximal harm on civilians on both sides of a conflict.

For example, in the 2014 Gaza war, Hamas turned the principles of international humanitarian law on their head in its attack on Israel, making massive use of human shields and launching indiscriminate attacks at innocent civilians from UN facilities, playgrounds, hospitals, mosques and schools.

In a further act of cynicism, Hamas is diverting construction materials - desperately needed to reconstruct the homes of the thousands of Palestinians it exploited last summer as human shields - for the expansion of its terror tunnel network. Clearly, Hamas sees their plight as an asset.

Since its last missile assault against Israel in 2006, Hezbollah has similarly embedded massive armaments throughout hundreds of villages in southern Lebanon. The time for the international community to act against this looming danger is now, before this powder keg once again ignites.

Like a crime syndicate, Middle Eastern terrorism would be nothing without its 'godfather'. Iran - emboldened and empowered in the wake of its agreement with the P5+1 - has made no secret of its intention to use the sanctions relief to expand its funding of its terror proxies in the region and world, in particular Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza - two groups which make clear their goal of wiping Israel off the map.

To defeat Iranian-backed terror and the parallel threat of Al Qaeda, ISIS and their many affiliates, the moderate states in the Middle East must act together in confronting extremism and in addressing its real root causes: poverty, absence of democracy and rule of law, absence of women's rights and the lack of education towards tolerance.

Palestinian society - where Hamas and other terror groups maintain strong support - exemplifies the effects of a deeply entrenched veneration of violence and extremism. Any society in which public squares are named for mass-murderers and children are encouraged to become martyrs will be fertile ground for extremism and terrorism.

Mr. President,

Terror has two main goals: to maim and kill; and to dispirit. Thus, of the many things needed to vanquish terror, one thing in particular stands out: clarity. Clarity of purpose and clarity of moral conviction.

United, the democratic world is capable of defeating the tidal wave of terror sweeping the Middle East and threatening the international community at large. To do so effectively, international norms and law need to be adapted to the changing nature of the 21st century battlefield and especially to the unique challenges that arise in asymmetric conflicts against rivals that deliberately blur the traditional distinction between military personnel and non-combatants.

In this regard, Israel is eager to continue playing an active role in the work of the UN bodies tasked with mounting a comprehensive international counter-terror strategy.

It has long been said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. We might similarly say that the price of victory in the fight against terror is unapologetic clarity.

Mr. President,

The fight of democracies against terror will always involve a balancing act between civil liberties and national security. Israel's commitment to the rule of law and to democracy means that our struggle to combat terrorism is more difficult but as expressed by our Supreme Court - “…a democracy must sometimes fight with one hand tied behind its back. Even so, the democracy has the upper hand.”

Israel has been contending for decades with these dilemmas and has succeeded in protecting its civilians from terrorism within the confines of the rule of law. All countries facing the threat of terror today are dealing with similar challenges.

Yet, terror groups have always underestimated democracies. They tend to confuse the democratic commitment to human rights and rule of law with weakness. They do not understand that these ‘weaknesses' are actually strengths. And they will ultimately fail because of this error.

As Israel has learned in its own prolonged campaign against terror, the ultimate source of our ability to vanquish terror lies in our reverence for the sanctity of human life and our fierce conviction to do battle with any and all who strive to defile it, even when they cynically try to use our own principles against us.

It is this conviction, ladies and gentlemen, will which ultimately ensure that the democratic world will prevail.

Thank you.
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Ambassador Prosor addresses UN Security Council

Charter of the United Nations: Maintaining International Peace and Security

This debate was convened to reaffirm international commitment to the principles of the UN Charter which speaks about the UN as a center for harmony among nations. The only harmony I hear is the chorus of condemnations against Israel.
Oscars for Maintenance of International Peace and Security

Seventy years ago, representatives of 50 nations met in San Francisco met to draw up the Charter of the newly formed United Nations. President Truman addressed the conference saying, “With this Charter the world can begin to look forward to the time when all worthy human beings may be permitted to live decently as free people.”

The signatories believed that every man and woman on this earth has dignity and rights. After witnessing the ravages of two world wars in the span of a generation, they understood that freedom is never free. It is not enough to write a charter or give a speech, freedom must be fought for.

Mr. President,

Article 1 of the UN’s Charter outlines the institution’s four purposes.

The first is to maintain international peace and security and take effective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace.

The greatest threat to global security is posed by radical Islamist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram. The battle being waged against these groups is a battle between civility and barbarism, between pluralistic and totalitarian societies, between tyranny and freedom.

Day by day extremism is spreading its ugly tentacles and in the process, destabilizing communities and nations. The threat is obvious and it is growing, and yet this Council has been reluctant to take decisive action. Worse, it has on occasion, surrendered to those nations that harbor, fund and support terrorist groups.

On January 28th Hezbollah terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at an IDF vehicle in northern Israel, killing two Israeli soldiers and injuring seven others. Hezbollah immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. One would think that in light of this clear admission of guilt, the Security Council would immediately and unequivocally condemn Hezbollah. Yet it took an entire week to release a statement that didn’t even mention the terrorist group.

If we intend to fight terror, we must not differentiate between terror and terror - there is no good terror or bad terror group, and we must treat them all alike.

Hezbollah has held Lebanon hostage for the better part of three decades and now seems intent on holding the Security Council hostage as well. Thanks to the backroom dealings of its Iranian patron, Hezbollah has been allowed to continue its reign of terror.

Here in the theater of the absurd, it wouldn't surprise me if ISIS was given a starring role on the Human Rights Council. Let me be clear - this institution cannot claim to uphold international security while indulging those nations that are actively undermining peace and security.

Mr. President,

The second purpose of the UN Charter is to advance relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights.

If we are honest with ourselves then we will admit that we have not done enough to defend basic freedoms. One example is the Middle East - Across the Middle East repressive regimes seek to control what people think, how they are educated, whom they can love, and what they believe.

For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the landscape of the Middle East. Today that figure has dwindled to less than 10 percent. We saw an example of this brutal persecution just last week when ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.

But it’s not just Christians being persecuted; all minority groups are at risk. As we speak, Yazidis, Bahai, Kurds, Christians and Muslims are being executed and expelled by radical extremists at a rate of 1,000 people per month.

Extremists have unleashed a plague of persecution believing that by silencing individuals, they can silence civilization. Nobel prize winner and humanitarian activist, Elie Wiesel said (and I quote), “Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.”

Millions of men and women look to us to defend their dignity and their rights and we are simply not doing enough to help them.

Mr. President,

The third purpose of the Charter is to promote and encourage respect for human rights.

The primary body responsible for upholding this principle is the Human Rights Council. Members of the Council currently include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, and Venezuela. I imagine there isn’t a person in this room who would want to be placed on trial in one of the countries. And I would think that no one here would be willing to write an article criticizing one of these governments while living under its dominion - certainly not if you valued your liberty or your life.

Yet these and other human rights offenders are given leadership roles in this institution. In 2008, for example, Saudi Arabia - a regime notorious for public executions, lashings, and beheadings - was elected the special rapporteur of the UN’s Third Committee dealing with human rights.

The fact of the matter is that this institution has been hijacked. The ruthless autocracies that jail journalists rush to lecture us on the virtues of a free press. The repressive dictatorships that persecute political opponents filibuster on the sanctity of free and fair elections. And the mass-murdering tyrannical regimes preach to us about human rights.

Yet, instead of criticizing these regimes, the very nations that undermine international peace get elected to the UN bodies responsible for maintaining global security. In 2013, the General Assembly elected Iran to the UN committee that deals with disarmament and international security. This is like inviting North Korea to write a resolution on cyber security.

But the absurdity doesn’t end there. Last year Iran was elected to serve as Vice Chair of the UN’s legal committee - an unusual choice given that Iranian citizens are denied due process and fair trials. It’s remarkable that Iran is so active in international affairs given that its citizens are not afforded opportunities to participate in Iranian national affairs.

Mr. President,

The fourth and final purpose of the Charter is to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.

Mr. President - you convened this debate to reaffirm international commitment to the principles outlined in the UN Charter. The Charter speaks about the United Nations as a center for harmonizing the actions of nations, but the only harmony I hear, is the chorus of condemnations aimed against Israel.

This institution will never live up to the principles in its charter so long as it persistently, consistently, and insistently focuses on Israel. Last year, the General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions singling out Israel for condemnation and only three resolutions to protest the actions of all other nations combined.

The worst humanitarian crisis of our generation is taking place in Syria where over 200,000 men, women, and children have been murdered by a regime that employs torture, starvation, chemical weapons, and barrel bombs. And yet the General Assembly passed just one resolution condemning the brutal Syrian regime.

Since 2006, more than half of all resolutions adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council in criticism of a particular country have been directed at Israel. This isn’t logical, it isn’t moral - it is simply prejudice.

When the actions of the UN are placed against the yardstick of its Charter, the institution simply doesn’t measure up. We are failing those who need us most.

Mr. President,

Last night Hollywood celebrated the Oscars, and as millions tuned in, I thought of the following.

If the Oscars for Maintenance of International Peace and Security were given at the UN, I would not be surprised if these candidates were awarded prizes.

In the Best Actor Category - for acting like a peace loving country while developing nuclear capabilities, denying the Holocaust, and threatening the destruction of another member state... the Oscar goes to Iran.

In the category for Best Supporting Actor - for its unrelenting support to the Assad Regime in killing hundreds of thousands of civilians... the Oscar goes to Hezbollah.

In the category for Best Visual Effects - for making women disappear from the public sphere, the Oscar goes to... surprise surprise... Saudi Arabia. No competition there.

And finally, for rewriting history, the Oscar for Best Editing goes to... the Palestinian Authority. But the truth is - the Palestinian Authority already received enough prizes from this institution.

Mr. President, Oscars aside, if we want to pursue peace and security in the real world, it is time to bring down the curtain on this theater of the absurd and return the original values of the UN Charter back to center stage.

Thank you, Mr. President.
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Ambassador Prosor addresses UN Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East

President Abbas could learn a great deal from King Hussein of Jordan about demonstrating his commitment to making peace.

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor addressed the Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East. Ambassador Prosor attacked the Palestinian leadership's continuous incitement against Israel and discussed the violence and instability afflicting the Middle East.

Ambassador Prosor said: "President Abbas could learn a great deal from King Hussein of Jordan about demonstrating his commitment to making peace. I and most Israelis will never forget the sight of King Hussein consoling the Israeli families whose children had been killed in a terrorist attack.

Contrast this picture, with a picture from just a few weeks ago when released terrorists were given a heroes’ welcome by the Palestinians and embraced by President Abbas. Murderers were met with fireworks and festivities and showered with candies and congratulations. The Palestinian Authority is rewarding terrorists with tens of thousands of dollars. The motto of the PA’s pension plan seems to be ‘the more you slay, the more we pay.'

From cradles to kindergartens and from schools to soccer stadiums, Palestinian children are besieged by messages of hate. They are born in hospitals named after violent Palestinian groups, attend schools named after terrorists, and are taught from textbooks that describe Zionism as racism."

Referring to the ongoing peace talks, Ambassador Prosor said: "The Palestinian leadership has yet to learn that real peace requires real commitment. You cannot condemn terrorism to international media and congratulate terrorists on Palestinian media. You cannot victimize others and then insist you are the victim. And you cannot use this forum to spread destructive messages and expect constructive results. "

Ambassador Prosor also referred to the new Iranian president and emphasized that since his election, Iran is still persecuting minorities, imprisoning journalists and targeting political adversaries.

He said: "Rather than cleaning house, the new president believes he can sweep Iran’s atrocities under the Persian rug. Behind Iran’s smiling façade, President Rouhani and Ayatollah Khamenei continue to preach hatred and provoke hostility. The ink is barely dry on the interim nuclear agreement and Iran is already showing its true colors. This is a regime that crosses red lines, produces yellow cake, and beats its citizens black and blue.

It doesn’t take a crime scene investigator to see Iran’s fingerprints on the violence erupting in parts of the Middle East."

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