Although some friends will receive him at the United Nations General Assembly, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows he will be in hot water tomorrow. When he left with wife for New York this morning for his speech on Monday, he gave a bitter farewell:
“In my address to the UN General Assembly,” he said on the tarmac, “I will refute all of the lies being directed at us and I will tell the truth about our state and about the heroic soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world.”
Already Netanyahu was fulminating yesterday over Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s newfound harshness delivered at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday. Netanyahu called Abbas “inciteful,” and promised, “In my UN General Assembly speech and in all of my meetings I will represent the citizens of Israel and will – on their behalf – refute the slander and lies directed at our country.”
Netanyahu will be backed into a corner on Monday defending Israel and his country’s military. “I think the UN would do itself a great favor if instead of the automatic Israel bashing, they actually turn their attention and their investigative committees against these terrorists,” he said earlier this month, responding to indications that the U.N. might not investigate Hamas for alleged violations of international law. In the backdrop of Netanyahu’s talk, he is facing a war crimes investigation from the United Nations Human Rights Council over his “most moral army in the world” and their summer war in Gaza. And already Israel is known inside of the United Nations as the violator of the most UNGA resolutions.
And Netanyahu’s speech is slated to take place days before the UNGA releases another annual round of censures against Israel for violations of international laws over the past twelve months.
Netanyahu’s abrasive tone comes on the heels of Abbas’s call for a United Nations Security Council Resolution to put an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza—and East Jerusalem—within a specific time frame vis-à-vis an immediate return to negotiations. It was a scaled down J’accuse moment in which Abbas characterized Israel in his strongest language yet, but ultimately his proposal lacked ambition. Abbas said Israel conducted “genocidal” policies in Gaza, constructed an “Apartheid” state, and he spoke readily of Israel’s “racist settlers.”
Expectations were running high for Palestinian leaders to announce they are joining the International Criminal Court so they can charge Israeli leaders for crimes against humanity, with a specific focus on how the army engaged in Gaza. Yet Abbas has not moved on submitting his signed copy of the Rome Statute to the United Nations and instead again has set his sights on yet another stream of talks with Israel. And while this time the parameters are predicated upon reaching an agreement on borders within a specific deadline, when exactly that deadline will be remains unknown, perhaps even unknown to Abbas himself.