The UN Security Council needs to have more “open meetings” on Lebanon and Iran, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Monday, while criticizing Israeli attacks on Palestinians.
Speaking after a recent trip to the West Bank, Jordan and Israel, Greenfield said the practice of Israeli settlement expansion went back decades.
“This is nothing new for us. But the practice has reached a critical juncture, and it is now undermining even the very viability of a negotiated two-state solution,” she told a UN Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East.
The Biden administration has been uncharacteristically critical of Israel’s moves to expand illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.
Last month, the State Department blasted announcements by Israel that 1,300 new settlement homes would be built in the occupied West Bank, in addition to discussions over 3,000 more homes.
“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. I was told how many Palestinian families fear eviction from their homes because it is nearly impossible to get building permits as settlements expand,” Greenfield said Tuesday.
But Greenfield pointed out that Israel was subjected to regular attacks by terrorist organizations, “including Hamas, Hezbollah, both of whom are funded by Iran.”
She added: “The impact of Iran’s regional malfeasance, nuclear aspirations, and hatred for Israel cannot be ignored.”
As for what could be done to advance a two-state solution, Greenfield said Palestinians and Israelis needed to work things out between themselves.
The UN Security Council could 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.”
Greenfield also noted that Israeli officials voiced their concern that the UN was “intrinsically biased against Israel.”
“They 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 said, adding that Security Council monthly meetings on the Middle East focus “almost exclusively on Israel.”
“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,” the US diplomat said.