Israel's UN Ambassador Slams Qatar, Praises U.S. Envoy Bolton

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

In unusually blunt comments, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman criticized Russia, China and Qatar on Monday for disappointing Israel in their role as UN Security Council members this year.

Gillerman, addressing a New York meeting of B'nei Brith International, a Jewish humanitarian organization, heaped praise on U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, jokingly describing him at one point as "a secret member of Israel's own team at the United Nations."

Noting that just five diplomats worked in the busy Israeli UN mission, he told the group: "Today the secret is out. We really are not just five diplomats. We are at least six including John Bolton."

Israel's relations with the United Nations have generally been stormy since the 1967 Six-Day War, during which Israel captured Gaza and the West Bank, and the 191-nation General Assembly annually adopts dozens of resolutions criticizing it.

But things have taken a turn for the better in recent years, Gillerman said, citing a General Assembly commemoration of the Holocaust and an assembly resolution denouncing anti-Semitism, among other breakthroughs.

The United States, for its part, often acts as Israel's lead defender in the Security Council, using its veto power to kill critical resolutions.

But Qatar, which started a two-year term on the council in January and is currently its sole Arab member, "has played a very counterproductive role so far as a member of the Security Council," Gillerman said.

"It has shown a mixture of weakness and submission which most people did not expect," he said, noting that Qatar enjoys close ties to Israel's closest ally, the United States, and is seeking to improve relations with the West.

"We feel that this is very unfortunate. We hope there will be a change in the behavior, in the attitude which Qatar is showing," Gillerman said.

He said Israel, which fears Iran is building nuclear weapons to attack it, was "dismayed and disappointed" by the role played by Russia and China in the council debate on Iran's nuclear program.

Beijing and Moscow are "stalling and delaying" a council resolution on Iran, he said.

Their opposition has prevented Western powers, who accuse Tehran of pursuing civilian nuclear power as a cover for a nuclear arms program, from pushing through the council a legally binding resolution demanding that Iran curb its nuclear ambitions or face possible sanctions, he said.

Gillerman warned Iran was "months rather than years away" from acquiring the capability to make nuclear weapons. "Time is running out," he said.