Israeli Foreign Minister’s Missteps at the U.N.

During his visit to the U.N. to participate in the General Debate of the 54th Session of the General Assembly, the missteps of Israel’s Foreign Minister, Mr. David Levy, managed to anger many people.  In statements to the media, he distorted his discussions with the Secretary-General of the U.N., H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, claiming that the Secretary-General had agreed with him on certain positions. This was in fact later denied through diplomatic channels by Mr. Annan’s assistants.  Moreover, in other comments to the media, Mr. Levy actually stated that the U.N. should not be involved in the Middle East peace process.

During his statement before the Assembly, Mr. Levy failed to even congratulate the new president of the General Assembly, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Namibia, upon his election, a minimum courtesy that should be extended under all circumstances.  The text of the statement itself angered many representatives, especially the Palestinians.  The statement did not mention the Palestinian people and did not mention Security Council resolution 242 and the principle of land for peace, which are the basis of the current peace process.   It also misrepresented the recent controversy with the Disney Corporation, accusing Arabs of blackmail in this regard, in addition to stating excessive falsities and making provocative assertions regarding Jerusalem.

During his stay in New York, Mr. Levy clearly seemed to be stressing two things: The need to end what he referred to as “anti-Israel” U.N. resolutions and Israel’s attempts to gain membership in the regional group of the Western countries of the U.N.   In response, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N. issued a press release on 29 September 1999, stating, inter alia, the following:

 “As far as I know, there are no anti-Israel U.N. resolutions. There are, however, many U.N. resolutions that are anti-illegal Israeli actions, including settlement activities and attempts to change the status and demographic composition of Occupied East Jerusalem. Those resolutions will continue because Israel continues with its illegal actions and because what began as illegal will always be illegal and does not become less illegal with the passage of time.  Moreover, other U.N. resolutions will continue to reaffirm the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, in line with the Charter of the United Nations and other instruments of international law and human rights. The U.N. has a permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine and the international community must uphold international law…

…As far as U.N. engagement in the peace process, we find the position of the Israeli Foreign Minister very unfortunate and reflective of the same old anti-U.N. position long-held by Israel, which does not serve Israel to fully normalize its situation and its relations at the U.N.  In this regard, we believe that the normal geographic group for Israel is the Asian Group, and we look forward to a different Israeli attitude and to the achievement of a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, which will remove the obstacles to such a membership.”