After mediating Gaza ceasefire, Egypt sees envoy berate Israel at Security Council

Egypt’s ambassador to the United Nations praised Cairo for ending a three-day escalation in the Gaza Strip after Jerusalem brokered a ceasefire with Palestinian Islamic Jihad during a speech before the UN Security Council on Monday.

While Egypt and other Arab countries with ties to the Jewish state still traditionally maintain a critical line toward Israel at the UN, the rhetoric used by Ambassador Osama Abdel Khalek went far beyond what Egyptian officials have used publicly, particularly in recent years. Because Israel-Egypt relations are more heated.

The tongue-lashing also came after Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, thanked Egypt and its president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, “for what was necessary to restore peace and stability in our region.” Prime Minister Yair Lapid delivered a similar message to the Egyptian leader when the two spoke on the phone as the Security Council convened on Monday.

Abdel Khalek began his speech before the emergency Security Council session over the weekend of violence between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, lamenting the “43 martyrs” killed without distinction between PIJ soldiers and innocent civilians. They also used an incorrect figure for the death toll, which stood at 46 as of Monday afternoon, according to Tor Venesland, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process who spoke before the Egyptian ambassador.

The IDF estimates that innocent civilians were among the 11 killed during airstrikes targeting PIJ soldiers. Sixteen Palestinians were killed in a failed PIJ rocket launch into Gaza, according to the Israeli military.

Abdel Khalek made no mention of PIJ during his speech.

“He tore into Israel for allowing settlers to enter the compound of the Haram al-Sharif under the protection of Israeli police. [Temple Mount].” Israel did indeed allow more than 2,000 Jews to visit the Temple Mount on Sunday for the Tisha B’av fast day, but it sees such behavior as consistent with its commitment to preserving the status quo at the Jerusalem holy site. Muslims can visit and pray while non-Muslims can only visit. Police also enforced the policy by detaining many Jewish visitors who violated those conditions.

Jews visit the Temple Mount on August 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Ilian)

But many of Israel’s Arab neighbors saw things differently, and the UAE’s UN representative made a point during his subsequent Security Council address to condemn “the infiltration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by several extremists”.

Despite Egypt’s attempts to mediate between Israel and the warring parties in Gaza, with a commitment to help rehabilitate the Gaza Strip, Abdel Khalek insisted that Israel was “fully responsible” for the “occupied” coastal enclave. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and says Hamas is now responsible for the territory.

Since Hamas took over Gaza in a violent uprising in 2007, Israel has maintained a blockade of the territory, which it says is necessary to prevent the smuggling of weapons and dual-use materials used by Hamas and other terrorist groups in future wars. . Egypt also maintains a blockade on the region, but this was not mentioned by Abdel Khalek who focused on calling on Israel to end the blockade of the Strip.

He slammed Israel for mass arrests of Palestinians, expanding settlements, demolishing homes and using live fire on Palestinian protesters.

“Egypt will never abandon its historical responsibilities towards the Palestinian brothers and sisters and our efforts. [to build] A better future is what we all look forward to when peace, security and stability are established in the Middle East,” Abdel Khalek added.

The Israeli mission to the United Nations refused to respond to the claims made by the Egyptian ambassador.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid sits with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry’s head of protocol en caro, before their meeting on December 9, 2021 (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

Monday’s emergency session was held at the request of China, France, Ireland, Norway and the UAE. It was originally supposed to take place behind closed doors when the announcement was made on Saturday in the middle of the fight. Following pressure from the Palestinian mission to the United Nations, China – which currently chairs the body – decided to open Monday’s session to the public.

Focusing more on the latest round of Gaza violence, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas Greenfield delivered the most pro-Israel speech of the council’s members.

She lamented the deaths of civilians lost in the conflict and demanded an inquiry into each of them. But she explained that the parties “should refrain from jumping to conclusions until we can determine the facts. As just one example, Israel was originally blamed attack which killed civilians in the Jabaliya refugee camp. It now appears to have been caused by Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets. So let’s make sure to follow the facts and see where they lead us. “

Thomas-Greenfield supported Israel’s right to respond to PIJ threats and rocket fire, citing a favorite talking point of the Biden administration that “Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety and security.”

She highlighted that PIJ is a US-designated terrorist group as well as an Iranian proxy that has long targeted civilians. “It is telling that Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders have been in Tehran for days while the people they claim to protect have been left in harm’s way,” the US envoy said.

Thomas-Greenfield also revealed that PIJ’s ceasefire agreement “prolonged these hostilities” while Lapid’s “leadership…ultimately avoided further loss of life and suffering.”

The US ambassador closed by calling for the release of two Israeli citizens and two fallen IDF soldiers whose remains have been held by Hamas in Gaza for approximately eight years.

In this photo taken from UNTV video, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield addresses an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Ukraine on Feb. 23, 2022, at U.N. headquarters, to condemn Russia’s actions toward the country and to request diplomacy. (AP via UNTV)

Like Thomas-Greenfield, Waynesland also condemned the PIJ’s “inflammatory rhetoric” and “indiscriminate” rocket fire in his UN speech. However, he appeared to pan the IDF’s response, which contributed to the civilian death toll.

“While fully recognizing Israel’s legitimate security concerns, I reiterate that in accordance with international law, all use of force must be proportionate and all practicable steps must be taken to prevent civilian casualties. Children, in particular, should never be the target of violence or harm,” Wensland said.

In a statement on Friday, Israel expressed deep concern over the killing of senior PIJ commander Taisir Jabari, which began 66 hours of violence by the UN envoy.

This prompted an immediate protest from Erdoğan, who again raised frustrations at Monday’s Security Council session.

The Israeli ambassador tried to compare the IDF’s killing of Jabari to the US killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri last month.

“When al-Zawahiri was eliminated, this organization, as well as much of the world, gave its full support… Yet, when Israel neutralizes such terrorists to prevent an attack on its own citizens, UN officials suddenly issue ‘serious concern’. ‘ Such double standards are difficult to explain,” Erdan teased.

At a media stakeout before the Security Council session, Erdan said the IDF Air strike cancelled Killing senior PIJ commander Khaled Mansoor three times at the last minute when he realized that there were children in the area.

In this handout photo, Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, gives a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York on April 25, 2022. (courtesy)

“Israel carried out this operation with astonishing accuracy and precision, taking precautions rarely seen in conflict zones around the world,” he asserted.

This statement was rejected by the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour. “Israel claims for itself a right to security that would justify killing, imprisoning and torturing an entire nation,” he began.

“How many more times is Israel going to justify bombing our people in Gaza until someone says enough is enough?”
Is it enough?” Mansoor argued.

He called Israel’s decision to launch Operation Breaking Dawn “an unprovoked and unjustified attack” and claimed the real reason behind it was “the upcoming Israeli election and desperation to appeal and appease the militants”.

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour addresses the Security Council on August 8, 2022. (Screen capture/UN TV)

Israel says it is the first blow since the IDF launched a four-day strike near the Gaza border to prevent concrete threats to Israeli civilians from PIJ fighters from materializing. arrested The group’s West Bank leader, Bassem al-Saadi, in Jenin last week.

Mansour urged members of the Security Council to intervene to protect the Palestinians. “Those who really need your support for their safety are vulnerable Palestinian families, not nuclear power,” he said.

The Palestinian ambassador insisted that despite Ramallah’s frustration with Israel, its hand is still extended peacefully. He lamented that the same could not be said of Israel, but argued that the Security Council must still “pull both sides into the peace process”.

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