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Lapid demands closure of UN Israel probe over member's anti-Semitic comments

The prime minister says the U.N.’s credibility is undermined by perpetuating anti-Semitism in its ranks

Navanethem Pillay (center right), chair of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel, briefs reporters on the first report of the Commission. On the right is Miloon Kothari. (Photo: UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid demanded the disbandment of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Israel probe in a letter addressed to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday. 

Lapid’s demand follows U.N. official Miloon Kothari’s recent accusation of the “Jewish lobby” controlling social media, in an interview with radical anti-Israel media outlet Mondoweiss.

“We are very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by – whether it is the Jewish lobby or specific NGOs,” Kothari had said. Accusations of Jews controlling global finances and the world media are central components in classic anti-Semitic conspiracies. 

The Indian-born U.N. official also questioned Israel’s membership in the U.N. organization.

“I would go as far as to raise the question of ‘why are they [Israel] even a member of the U.N.?'” Kothari told Mondoweiss.

The Israeli prime minister urged Guterres to combat anti-Semitism and warned of the consequences of failing to do so.

“Excellency, I call on you today to honor your word in this egregious case, to set the record straight,” Lapid said. “This cannot stand. Slurs about a ‘Jewish lobby’ that acts to ‘control’ the media are reminiscent of the darkest days of modern history.”

The Israeli premier further stressed that combating anti-Semitism requires action. 

“The fight against anti-Semitism cannot be waged with words alone; it requires action,” Lapid said. 

“This is the time for action; it is time to disband the commission,” he said, referring to the so-called U.N. Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel. “From Mr. Kothari’s outrageous slurs to Ms. Pillay’s defense of the indefensible, this commission does not just endorse anti-Semitism – it fuels it.” 

While Kothari is at the center of the controversy, Lapid also blasted U.N. COI head Navi Pillay for defending Kothari’s anti-Semitic remarks with a claim that the “Jewish lobby” comments were taken out of context. In Pillay’s letter, addressed to UNHRC President Federico Villegas, she also said the commission she chairs “feels it necessary to clarify certain issues given the seriousness of the accusations.”

Lapid said these anti-Semitic comments undermined the credibility of the entire U.N., an organization established after World War II to promote peace and coexistence worldwide. 

“These anti-Semitic remarks are a stain on the entire United Nations and are not befitting a person with such a position of responsibility,” he said. “As such, they were firmly condemned by representatives of the United States, France, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Austria, the European Union and others.” 

The controversial U.N. Commission of Inquiry was established after the latest war between Hamas and Israel in May 2021. The commission’s official purpose was to investigate human rights abuses in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. 

While the commission, in theory, is supposed to investigate misconduct committed by both sides, in practice, it has only focused on attacking Israel.

In a report in June, the COI blamed Israel for “all underlying root causes” of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 

“Ending the occupation of lands by Israel... remains essential in ending the persistent cycles of violence,” the report stated, while accusing Israel of deliberately perpetuating the “occupation.” 

“It is this lack of implementation coupled with a sense of impunity, clear evidence that Israel has no intention of ending the occupation and the persistent discrimination against Palestinians that lies at the heart of the systematic recurrence of violations in both the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel,” the report stated.

Conversely, the report ignores how Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 only escalated the violence of Hamas and other terrorist groups against Israel, as well as decades of continual terrorism against Israel. The document, likewise, fails to mention multiple Arab rejections and Israeli acceptances of a peaceful two-state solution designed by the international community. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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