Gillerman: France demonstrates excessive eagerness to 'understand' terror
Israel's UN envoy furious at resolution condemning Israel over Beit Hanun errant shelling calling for 'fact finding.'
Israeli envoy to the United Nations Dan Gillerman on Saturday was furious at a UN resolution to establish an investigative team to probe a recent incident in which some 20 Palestinians were killed in the north Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun.
The UN General Assembly on Friday night overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the errant shelling of a Beit Hanun house. Representatives of 156 countries voted in favor of the resolution, seven objected and six abstained.
In an interview with Haaretz, Gillerman was highly critical of France, which was particularly active in raising the majority at the UN vote, pressuring European nations that considered abstention to support the resolution.
"The French demonstrated excessive eagerness to understand terror while exhibiting utter insensitivity to the pain of (Israeli) terror victims," Gillerman said.
Voting "no" were the United States, Israel, Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau. Abstaining were Canada, Ivory Coast, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Europe's envoys cast their votes unanimously in favor of the resolution.
"The French were more active in promoting the resolution than the Qataris who submitted it. As a result of France's persuasion efforts, [other] delegates submitted amendments to the original draft resolution, written by the Arabs, which made significant changes that allowed them to support the resolution," he said.
Gillerman is of the opinion that "what spurred the French were tensions in Lebanon. The French expressed at the UN their chagrin at Israel for the overflights of Israel Air Force jets near French army positions in southern Lebanon, which they believe jeopardized their troops."
On Sunday morning Gillerman told Israel Radio: "If the French feel under attack then I think it would be a classic case depicted by the childhood phrase 'the thief's hat is on fire' (meaning the culprit's guilt is clear to all)."
"As I said over the pulpit, what a country like France would do if it were under rocket attacks? Would they be sending out flowers to those who launched the missiles? This (UN) resolution is like sending out flowers to terror, flowers that, God forbid, might be laid at the grave of another victim from Sderot."
"Anyone who saw the French ambassador leaning over the shoulder of the Palestinian envoy during my speech realizes this is more than a reasonable effort to try pass this resolution and to force other European countries to join in on the effort," Gillerman said.
Dan Gillerman walked out of the voting session in protest Friday, saying his words were falling on deaf ears and that he was better off holding a nearby press conference.
Prior to the debate, Gillerman said the session is a "humiliation and cynical exploitation of the UN, and whoever lends a hand to this decision is lending a hand to terror."
The United States ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, warned member states against approving the proposal, saying it would undermine the organization's relevance.
"Such a decision will only strengthen the widespread doubts regarding the UN, and lead many to conclude that the global organization cannot fulfill a role in the region," said Bolton.
Bolton called the resolution "one-sided" and said its adoption would only "increase tension and serve the interests of those hostile to Israel and that do not accept Israel's right to exist."
Bolton also slammed the UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, which called Wednesday for an inquiry into the Beit Hanun shelling.
"Since its inception, the new Human Rights Council has focused solely on Israel while completely ignoring human rights abuses in Darfur, Burma, and North Korea," said Bolton.
The Palestinian Authority's representative to the UN, Riad Mansour, called for "Israeli war criminals" to be put on trial for the shelling.
European states lead efforts to soften the proposed condemnation. The original draft, presented by Arab states, called for an "international mechanism" to protect Gaza Strip residents.
The draft also includes a clause urging UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to dispatch a "working investigative team" to Beit Hanun to conduct an inquiry into the shelling. American media reported former United States president Jimmy Carter is set to lead the team.
The clauses were included in a Qatari-proposed Security Council resolution that was vetoed last week by the U.S.
European states succeeded in changing the proposal's language, replacing the condemnation of the shelling with an expression of sorrow over the incident. A call on Palestinians to halt Qassam rocket fire at Israeli communities along the Gaza Strip had also been added..