Yair Lapid, the Israeli newsman-turned-politician, says the United Nations has an obsession with Israel.
“We tell them, you know what is going on in Israel. Israel is a democracy. We have human rights, we have women’s rights, we have gay rights, we are doing everything in our power to prevent the death of innocents in every conflict we have, and yet you are condemning us,” Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid Party and a former finance minister, told reporters Aug. 10 in a conference call held by the Israel Policy Forum.
Speaking from Israel, the Knesset member talked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and improving Israel’s relations with the United States, but saved his indignation for the U.N. Human Rights Council, which he said has issued 67 condemnations against Israel in the last decade, compared with 61 against the rest of the world.
“This is beyond bias,” Lapid said, calling on Americans to scrutinize the United Nations’ actions.
“I think everyone should write his congressman and say, ‘Listen, you are using my money in order to finance the [U.N.] campaign against the only democracy in the Middle East.’”
Lapid said he hopes the next secretary general, scheduled to be appointed at the end of this year, will urge the United States and other democracies to address what he called the United Nations’ “structural problem” of singling out Israel.
Turning to Middle East peace talks, Lapid, whose party sits in opposition in the Knesset, said that presidential transitions in the United States are a “dangerous time for Israel.” He favored Secretary of State John Kerry having “another try at it,” or for President Barack Obama to give a speech on the matter. But the “worst possibility” would be for the Security Council to broker a peace deal.
The damage from even a Security Council resolution that doesn’t threaten Israel with sanctions but declares that settlements are illegal “will be huge,” he said. “This is counterproductive, even for those of us that believe Israel needs to separate from the Palestinians and evacuate the settlements.”
Lapid said the most successful environment for a peace deal would be at a summit that includes other countries in the region, such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, plus the permanent members of the Security Council and Germany.
Lapid said one area of improvement between Israel and the United States is the communication between Democratic American Jews and Israel’s government. He said he plans to meet with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and several other Jewish Democrats in Congress. He also emphasized the need for Israel’s haredi community to accept non-Orthodox denominations, noting that the majority of American Jews who are affiliated with a synagogue are Reform and Conservative.
“The fact that [the Israeli] government is assaulting Reform and Conservative Jews is agonizing to me and maybe it’s time for us here in Israel to talk not in the language of religion, not in the language of freedom, not even in the language of security,” he said. “But you have to understand that security is based, upon other things, that “these are our people.”